The Deacon's Bench

A remarkable odyssey has finally come to a close.

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

In the annals of people who returned to their childhood faith after a time of alienation, few have had a longer sojourn than James O’Bryan.

The Louisville native has reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church after being away from it for more than 80 years.

In the end, O’Bryan reconciled with the church because of the actions of a priest — the same reason he said he left in the first place.

O’Bryan, now 89 and living in northern California, was one of three plaintiffs who sued the Vatican in 2004, alleging that the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church had orchestrated a cover-up of sexual abuse through centuries of secret policies. He said he was sexually abused by a Louisville priest in 1928.

That lawsuit effectively ended on Monday when the plaintiffs asked the court to dismiss their case. They conceded they faced insurmountable legal obstacles, including the Vatican’s status as a sovereign nation, which made it immune to most lawsuits, and the limited evidence on how bishops handled abuse cases decades ago.

But even as that lawsuit proceeded, O’Bryan was finding his way back to church.

In January, his wife of 52 years, Grace, was dying, he said. She was an Irish-American from Boston’s deeply Catholic culture, but had herself been long estranged from the church. However, she asked for last rites. the Rev. Louis Nichols, a local priest, came and performed them, then did the funeral Mass.

“I saw how compassionate he was and how caring he was,” O’Bryan said. So O’Bryan called Nichols for a follow-up appointment, and “I’ve been going to church ever since.”

Check out more at the Louisville link.

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