At its best, the Catholic Church is a refuge for the damned of society–witness the sanctuary movement of the 1980s, when the Church offered refuge to illegal immigrants fleeing war-ravaged Central American countries. It comforts convicts–witness Homeboy Industries. At the very least, priests will personally hear out and respond to the pleas of criminals–witness the prison priests and nuns, as best exemplified in the television show Oz.
The Diocese of Orange, of course, is far from the best. And a recent exchange between the office of Bishop Tod D. Brown and a sex-abuse survivor only confirms that Brownie is as inept in being a shepherd as the sun is good at rising every morning.
On May 16, according to email shared with the Weekly by a source that requested anonymity, a sex-abuse survivor who was part of one of many sex-abuse settlements under Brownie's reign sent an email to Tuan Pham, His Excellency's secretary, with the request that Pham forward it to Brownie. The survivor confessed to Brownie he was a fugitive hiding from Orange County authorities* and didn't know what to do except commit suicide. Admitting to having spent nearly half of his life in prison, the survivor blamed his wayward life on the trauma he suffered as a victim of Eleuterio Ramos, the most prolific pedo-priest in the history of the Orange diocese.
“I have anger issues and can not make friends,” the survivor wrote to Brownie. “I cry every day and I ask God why me? The money that I settled with the Diocese is all gone. I am so sick that I can not even control money. My family has abandoned me again because of my choice of life. When I received the money from the settlement they were all there with open arms but then they were gone again.
“Please Bishop Brown I am begging you for your guidance,” the survivor concluded. “I have no one to turn to.
I have no friends and no one I can confide in. I do hope you get back to me soon and whatever you think is best for me I will do.”
Rather than respond, Brownie relegated the task to Maria Rullo Schinderle, general counsel for the Orange diocese. “Certainly, he regrets the position you find yourself in at this time but there is no advice or guidance Bishop Brown can give you except that you seek help, legal counsel and do what is right,” Schinderle wrote to the survivor. She also told the survivor the diocese forwarded his email to his former attorney, which upset the survivor greatly.
“First of all I was writing to the Bishop for his spiritual advice not for a hand out,” the survivor wrote back to Schinderle on May 22. “Second why would you forward my confidential e-mail to an Attorney who no longer represents me in any matters. I would think that would be considered under private conversation between your spiritual advisor and myself. Bishop Brown continues to not care of someones well being. I am frustrated with this outcome and I only thought that I would be consoled for my depression and what was best for me to do. Now I know why I do not go to church and will continue not to.”
Heckuva job, Brownie!
*The Weekly is withholding the name of the survivor per our policy of not naming sex-abuse victims without their permission–we're not the Orange County Register, after all–but his name has been identified in news reports as that of an Orange diocese sex-abuse survivor, and court records show he is currently a fugitive.