The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


A mother, a son and his father, a priest — UPDATED

posted by jmcgee

This story is tragic on so many levels: 

With three small children and her marriage in trouble, Pat Bond attended a spirituality retreat for Roman Catholic women in Illinois 26 years ago in hopes of finding support and comfort.

What Ms. Bond found was a priest — a dynamic, handsome Franciscan friar in a brown robe — who was serving as the spiritual director for the retreat and agreed to begin counseling her on her marriage. One day, she said, as she was leaving the priest’s parlor, he pulled her aside for a passionate kiss.

Ms. Bond separated from her husband, and for the next five years she and the priest, the Rev. Henry Willenborg, carried on an intimate relationship, according to interviews and court documents. In public, they were both leaders in their Catholic community in Quincy, Ill. In private they functioned like a married couple, sharing a bed, meals, movie nights and vacations with the children.

Eventually they had a son, setting off a series of legal battles as Ms. Bond repeatedly petitioned the church for child support. The Franciscans acquiesced, with the stipulation that she sign a confidentiality agreement. It is now an agreement she is willing to break as both she and her child, Nathan Halbach, 22, are battling cancer.

Read on for more at the link. And, if you can, whisper an extra prayer for all concerned.

UPDATE:  The priest in question has now been suspended.  



Advertisement
Comments read comments(8)
post a comment
Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted October 16, 2009 at 12:07 am


This is such a tragedy for this young man and his mom, both victims of this predatory priest.
People fail to realize that any sexual relationship that a priest has, whether with an adult or a child, is abusive because of the nature of the priest’s role.
The Church, (in this case, the Franciscans and the priest/perpetrator) owes Ms. Bond and her son medical care, counseling (if the poor boy lives long enough to benefit from it), a sincere apology, and living expenses. I am usually opposed to lawsuits as a means to this end, but in this case, I am tempted to change my mind.
How dare the Franciscans hold Ms. Bond to any “confidentiality agreement” she might have made in the past. Most dioceses and religious orders who made any such agreements with victims have voided them in attempts to reconcile with and heal the victims.



report abuse
 

Deacon Clayton Nickel

posted October 16, 2009 at 9:26 am


Such a tragedy goes deeply into the hearts of all those who are ordained.
As always the word of the Gospel in today’s liturgy speaks to us:
“Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.”
These word of Christ can reassure us, be words of comfort or they can be a warning to us.
Prayers are indeed needed.



report abuse
 

Jim

posted October 16, 2009 at 9:38 am


I wonder how many more stories like this are out there waiting to surface? Fiften years ago, I would have seen this as an aberration, but now I don’t know. These are consenting adults after all, but there is a disparity of (for lack of a better word) power or authority. This story will get some coverage, so stand by…..



report abuse
 

Ed

posted October 16, 2009 at 11:40 am


Now that the initial furore over the abuse scandal has died down it is possible to glimpse the true dimensions. I was previously inclined to dismiss the comments of George Weigel on the Church’s part in the scandal as being a bit over the other edge. Two features, especially, from this story that make me rethink Weigel’s views of “Catholic Light” are the “spiritual” character of Mrs. Bond’s experience and the apparent spiritual and moral indifference of Willenborg and the Franciscan community. Not to mention the alleged pervasiveness of this circumstance. This seems clear evidence of the institutional dysfunctionality of the church that was commonly pointed out, but should also be seen as a clear sign of spiritual dysfunction as well. But I think that the spiritual dysfunction has not been as well characterized as yet. In the meantime we must continue to pray for the victims and the Church



report abuse
 

DML

posted October 16, 2009 at 1:03 pm


It is a sad affair to be sure, and the concerns of the mother and her child still deserve to be looked after. I think this offers us a teachable moment, that if learned from, could mitigate these issues in the future.
Archbishop Levada and the Church’s lawyers argued in a very similar case in 1994 where a mendicant had fathered a child that the mother was not entitled to any support because…”in unprotected intercourse . . . when (she) should have known that could result in pregnancy.”
Now Levada is the head of the CDF, so I think we should consider what he has to say on the matter. As such, we should explore the situational ethics of this matter.
The cleric is a mendicant and has no salary, so the money used in the settlement could be seen as a misappropriation of Church monies. The laity relies upon the Church to use donated money in good faith.
He encouraged the woman to have an abortion during her first pregnancy, which according to Church teaching is a grave evil. On the other hand, if he had been encouraged to use contraception instead as Archbishop Levada has argued, a lesser evil could be avoided in the future.



report abuse
 

Clare Krishan

posted October 17, 2009 at 9:37 am


Theology off track ( as opposed to ‘on tap’): we are obliged by our faith to trust the Church’s sacramental graces as efficacious so I have no bone to pick with the priest reconciling with our loving God after reception of the escatalogical* healing of absolution and returning to ministry, BUT and its a B I G B U T, the sinner (and his Church superiors) still are on the hook for the temporal consequences of the sin, those are not “washed away” so easily — even St. Augustine maintained a relationship with his son Adeodatus, until his death soon after his grandmother St. Monica’s.
Have those morally responsible * ever really been held accountable for the total extent of such consequences? No. Many of us will never fully make amends this side of death for the temporal consequences of sin, that’s why we are consoled by the promises of Purgatory, we may relax and enjoy works of mercy offered on our behalf (assuming we die amongst the souls of the faithful departed, otherwise, you know… there’s another destination designed for Justice’s sake).
Consider the kid in the candy store example here:
Sin has both eternal consequences and temporal consequences. As an example, if I were to take an innocent life, an objectively gravely sinful matter (one of the three conditions for mortal sin), under the subjective conditions of mortal sin (full knowledge, full consent of the will), and died unrepentant, I would go to Hell. My going to Hell would be the eternal consequence of my sin.
The temporal consequences of that sin range from the death of the innocent person; the suffering of my family who endured the shame and ramifications of my arrest and incarceration or enduring capital punishment; the effects of the loss of the innocent person on the family of the innocent person; the costs to the community of the loss of the innocent person; the costs to the community of litigation; the spiritual effects on the weaker members of the community whose view of the world and God’s Justice and Mercy could be affected knowing that innocent life can be taken so easily; the tarnishing of the image of the Body of Christ and the bringing of scandal upon the Church; the loss of grace in my soul and the predisposition to sin again as sin can become habitual, penance I would have to do to pay for the effects of my sin (this includes penance given to me during Confession, personal penance, and the penance assigned to me by God to be paid on earth and/or in Purgatory), etc.
If I were to repent and receive forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance, the eternal consequences — satisfied for by Christ at Calvary — are no longer an issue because I receive the effects of His atoning Sacrifice (I will have been justified) when I reconcile with the Church through a good Confession. But I still have to pay for the temporal consequences of my sin because God is not only merciful, He is just. An example of this is that of a child who steals a candy bar and then then tearfully, with true contrition, confesses his crime to his parent. The parent, being loving and good and merciful, as our Father in Heaven is, will forgive that child and allow the child back in the parent’s “good graces” — but he will also still expect the child to pay back the store from which he stole. Another example is the common one of, say, an imprisoned murderer repenting and coming to know Christ — but who still must serve out his time in prison or give up his life as punishment.
The temporal effects of repented sins that are not paid for in life through the effects of natural law, personal penance, penance given by the priest at Confession, or mystical penances given to me by God, are paid for in Purgatory. St. Augustine, in City of God (A.D. 419), sums up Catholic thinking on such things:
Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment [i.e. when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead]. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment.
which we could parse for the penitent “philandering cleric” thusly:
“…still expect the (priest/baby-daddy) to pay back the (ecclesial spouse(Christ) / ecclesial members / baby-mommy / baby) from which he (infidelity/deceit/adultery/abandonment).
(we can expect from the baby-mommy a pay back for the temporal consiquences of fornication – in other words, “to take care of it” (abortion pun intended, why do you think that diabolical procedure is so prevalent?) A quick fix, preferably for irrascible perps, like adoption, but for those of us more sanguine, a lifetime spent raising the wee one. This she has done. Her account is NOT in arrears.
The baby daddy?
One could say that this whole episode is a spiritual abortion – the boy’s soul may be lost to the Church and his Heavenly Creator also, if something is not done soon to assist him before its too late.
Pray for all indeed.
______
* the Franciscans as “community” whose member’s digressions have caused an injury to the rest of us, digressions we must tally to get a real sense of the magnitude, but are actually hidden behind a ‘confidentiality’ threat of fiscal “damages”, so much for witnessing tenderness of mercy, he threatens “she has more to lose”



report abuse
 

Clare Krishan

posted October 17, 2009 at 9:41 am


oops my bad, missing citation
http://www.communityofhopeinc.org/Catholic%20Beliefs/Gaining%20Indulgences.html
the quotation text here:

Sin has both eternal consequences and temporal consequences. As an example, if I were to take an innocent life, an objectively gravely sinful matter (one of the three conditions for mortal sin), under the subjective conditions of mortal sin (full knowledge, full consent of the will), and died unrepentant, I would go to Hell. My going to Hell would be the eternal consequence of my sin.
The temporal consequences of that sin range from the death of the innocent person; the suffering of my family who endured the shame and ramifications of my arrest and incarceration or enduring capital punishment; the effects of the loss of the innocent person on the family of the innocent person; the costs to the community of the loss of the innocent person; the costs to the community of litigation; the spiritual effects on the weaker members of the community whose view of the world and God’s Justice and Mercy could be affected knowing that innocent life can be taken so easily; the tarnishing of the image of the Body of Christ and the bringing of scandal upon the Church; the loss of grace in my soul and the predisposition to sin again as sin can become habitual, penance I would have to do to pay for the effects of my sin (this includes penance given to me during Confession, personal penance, and the penance assigned to me by God to be paid on earth and/or in Purgatory), etc.
If I were to repent and receive forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance, the eternal consequences — satisfied for by Christ at Calvary — are no longer an issue because I receive the effects of His atoning Sacrifice (I will have been justified) when I reconcile with the Church through a good Confession. But I still have to pay for the temporal consequences of my sin because God is not only merciful, He is just. An example of this is that of a child who steals a candy bar and then then tearfully, with true contrition, confesses his crime to his parent. The parent, being loving and good and merciful, as our Father in Heaven is, will forgive that child and allow the child back in the parent’s “good graces” — but he will also still expect the child to pay back the store from which he stole. Another example is the common one of, say, an imprisoned murderer repenting and coming to know Christ — but who still must serve out his time in prison or give up his life as punishment.
The temporal effects of repented sins that are not paid for in life through the effects of natural law, personal penance, penance given by the priest at Confession, or mystical penances given to me by God, are paid for in Purgatory. St. Augustine, in City of God (A.D. 419), sums up Catholic thinking on such things:
Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment [i.e. when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead]. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment./b>


which we could parse for the penitent “philandering cleric” thusly:
“…still expect the (priest/baby-daddy) to pay back the (ecclesial spouse(Christ) / ecclesial members / baby-mommy / baby) from which he (infidelity/deceit/adultery/abandonment).
And we can expect from the baby-mommy a pay back for the temporal consequences of her fornication – in other words, “to take care of it” (abortion pun intended, why do you think that diabolical procedure is so prevalent?) A quick fix, preferably for irrascible perps, like adoption, but for those of us with more sanguine temperaments, a lifetime spent raising the wee one. This she has done. Her account is NOT in arrears.
The baby daddy?
One could say that this whole episode is a spiritual abortion – the boy’s soul may be lost to the Church and his Heavenly Creator also, if something is not done soon to assist him before its too late.
Pray for all indeed.
______
* the Franciscans as “community” whose member’s digressions have caused an injury to the rest of us, digressions we must tally to get a real sense of the magnitude, but are actually hidden behind a ‘confidentiality’ threat of fiscal “damages”, so much for witnessing tenderness of mercy, he threatens “she has more to lose”



report abuse
 

Clare Krishan

posted October 17, 2009 at 9:45 am


so sorry Greg, still missing credit where credit is due (temporal consequence of my goof up – this third attempt to rectify my error, your patient indulgence much appreciated)

Sin has both eternal consequences and temporal consequences. As an example, if I were to take an innocent life, an objectively gravely sinful matter (one of the three conditions for mortal sin), under the subjective conditions of mortal sin (full knowledge, full consent of the will), and died unrepentant, I would go to Hell. My going to Hell would be the eternal consequence of my sin.

The temporal consequences of that sin range from the death of the innocent person; the suffering of my family who endured the shame and ramifications of my arrest and incarceration or enduring capital punishment; the effects of the loss of the innocent person on the family of the innocent person; the costs to the community of the loss of the innocent person; the costs to the community of litigation; the spiritual effects on the weaker members of the community whose view of the world and God’s Justice and Mercy could be affected knowing that innocent life can be taken so easily; the tarnishing of the image of the Body of Christ and the bringing of scandal upon the Church; the loss of grace in my soul and the predisposition to sin again as sin can become habitual, penance I would have to do to pay for the effects of my sin (this includes penance given to me during Confession, personal penance, and the penance assigned to me by God to be paid on earth and/or in Purgatory), etc.

If I were to repent and receive forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance, the eternal consequences — satisfied for by Christ at Calvary — are no longer an issue because I receive the effects of His atoning Sacrifice (I will have been justified) when I reconcile with the Church through a good Confession. But I still have to pay for the temporal consequences of my sin because God is not only merciful, He is just. An example of this is that of a child who steals a candy bar and then then tearfully, with true contrition, confesses his crime to his parent. The parent, being loving and good and merciful, as our Father in Heaven is, will forgive that child and allow the child back in the parent’s “good graces” — but he will also still expect the child to pay back the store from which he stole. Another example is the common one of, say, an imprisoned murderer repenting and coming to know Christ — but who still must serve out his time in prison or give up his life as punishment.

The temporal effects of repented sins that are not paid for in life through the effects of natural law, personal penance, penance given by the priest at Confession, or mystical penances given to me by God, are paid for in Purgatory. St. Augustine, in City of God (A.D. 419), sums up Catholic thinking on such things:
Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment [i.e. when Christ comes again to judge the living and the dead]. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment

Taken from http://www.communityofhopeinc.org/Catholic%20Beliefs/Gaining%20Indulgences.html
which we could parse for the penitent “philandering cleric” thusly:
“…still expect the (priest/baby-daddy) to pay back the [ ecclesial spouse(Christ) / ecclesial members / baby-mommy / baby conceived in the sin ] from which he [ infidelity / deceit / adultery / abandonment ]….”
And we can expect from the baby-mommy a pay back for the temporal consequences of her fornication – in other words, “to take care of it” (abortion pun intended, why do you think that diabolical procedure is so prevalent?) A quick fix, preferably for irrascible perps, like adoption, but for those of us with more sanguine temperaments, a lifetime spent raising the wee one. This she has done. Her account is NOT in arrears.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.