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Letter: Do not spurn church because of abusers

I would like to respond to a recent letter encouraging Catholic victims of clergy sexual abuse to seek joining a Protestant denomination. I am one of the victims and an accepted claimant in the diocese who came forward about 14 years ago. My abuse was by Father Joseph Friel, at St. Aloysius Gonzaga parish in Cheektowaga. It occurred about 1962, when I was 10 years old.

To my brothers and sisters who were also victims of Catholic Clergy abuse; be careful of “ambulance chasers” in the Protestant religious community, the legal profession, and others. Some (not all) will capitalize on our pain for their own gain. Another point is Martin Luther being human like the rest of us also suffered from mental disorders like OCD, depression and anxiety etc.

In the last several years I have researched, and studied about childhood sexual abuse. There are abusers in all walks of life including Protestant clergy.

Due to the recent public admission of one of the Catholic pedophile priests of victimizing several dozen people, the Buffalo diocese has had to come to terms with the past abuses. It was a shock to me for this to have occurred, because pedophiles all go to their graves denying what they did.

Again there are pedophiles in all walks of life. In fairness to the Diocese they have been 95 percent of the focus by the local media due to the priests admission and the brave “coming forward” of one of his victims, bringing about the coming forward of others to the media including myself. For the diocese there may eventually be an upside to this with the beginnings of healing for all involved, the innocent and the guilty.

It is important to remember that the Catholic Church as an institution is the human part of the church and contains the human elements of good and evil. The structural part of the Catholic Church is a separate entity.

Michael Stockmeyer


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