South Bend Tribune: Mass addresses sexual abuse issue

Author: Lauren Beck

Holy Cross priest: ‘No denying’
p. SOUTH BEND — Members of the Congregation of Holy Cross are praying harder than ever in light of the recent sexual abuse allegations within the order, said the Rev. William Dorwart, provincial superior of the congregation’s Indiana Province.

“The family is praying for the people it may have hurt and for its own members,” he said.

Dorwart celebrated a Mass on Thursday for the healing and reconciliation of all those affected by the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. The Mass was held in Alumni Hall Chapel at the University of Notre Dame.

Although he said it would be easier to erase the crisis from memory, sexual misconduct was an issue the church had to address.

“We religious in the Congregation of the Holy Cross are painfully aware that people have been hurt by members of our order and have suffered because of our sinfulness,” he said.

“Oh, that we could edit that away,” he said. “But that’s not how the journey works. There’s no editing or denying.”

Dorwart acknowledged that the church and specifically the Holy Cross order were going through a difficult time, as he referred to, but did not name, a Holy Cross priest who has been charged in Arizona.

That priest, the Rev. Paul LeBrun, was arrested Friday. He faces a felony charge of sexual misconduct with a minor.

LeBrun, 47, served at Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend in the 1980s and was transferred to the Phoenix Diocese in 1986. He returned to Little Flower in 1993 but resigned in 1999.

“Internally, like any family, we Holy Cross religious are suffering, just like if this happened in your family — you’re just devastated,” Dorwart said.

“People do what they can to support one another and to talk through this, and to pray,” Dorwart said.

Throughout the investigation of LeBrun, Dorwart said he and the order have remained committed to eradicating the problem.

“Holy Cross has done everything it can to cooperate with civil authorities, because that’s our responsibility. We’ve done everything we can to cooperate with the Bishop’s Conference as well,” he said.

Among the measures the order has taken to address the crisis in the church and among its own members is a revised policy on sexual misconduct, written over the past six months.

Dorwart said celebrating the Mass was also a crucial part of healing and forgiveness for the church amid allegations of sexual abuse. Other dioceses across the nation have held similar services, he said.

June 6,2003

TopicID: 3502