Quoted from "A Standing Ovation for a Child Molesting Priest" by Daniel Florien
"In a packed sanctuary that held hundreds, Father Mike, as he was known, stood before the congregation he had led for a dozen years. Reading from a statement, he told them that 19 years ago he had “transgressed the personal boundaries of an adolescent.” (Only later would it emerge that the diocese knew he, in fact, had been accused of sexual misconduct with several other children.)
With the diocese’s zero-tolerance policy now in place, he said he was being forced to step down. The tone of his statement made him sound like a martyr—someone who had been kicked out of ministry for a single mistake, a simple boundary violation—nearly two decades ago. As he read his short statement, the parishioners sat in stunned silence. Some women fished in their purses for tissues to wipe away their tears. As Father Mike walked out of the church, the congregation rose and gave him a standing ovation….
When the applause started, my first reaction was disbelief. A standing ovation? Though the language softened the act, I had just heard this priest admit that he had molested a minor. Diocesan officials had kept the information secret from the parishioners of San Francisco Solano, who until now would never have thought twice about leaving their children in the pastor’s charge.
As a parent, my response was outrage and disgust. Imagine that a beloved schoolteacher who had taught your children had admitted to once sexually molesting a child but the school district never called the police, kicked him out or bothered to tell the parents. Would you rally around the teacher? Or would you be angry that a predator was left in a position of great trust with easy access to children—without your knowledge? I’d guess that the school superintendent would be forced to resign under pressure from parents—and face criminal charges for aiding and abetting a criminal.
—William Lobdell, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace (2009), p. 152-3
Only in a church would a child molesting priest get a standing ovation."