Comments on “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

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The following is my commentary (in italics) on a Letter to Editor which appeared in both  the Pembroke Daily Observer, (Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others, 10 December 2011) and Eganville Leader (Forgive Us Our Trespasses, 07 December 2011) by Al Donohue,  Pembroke,  ON following the conviction of Monsignor Robert Borne



It could be a sad day for sinners, and for all of our Christian churches, alike, if the only people allowed inside our rectories are those with proven track records in sanctity.

It would be good if the only priests allowed in sanctuaries and hence rectories are those who have never had credible allegations of sexual abuse against them and/or have never been convicted for sexually abusing a child. It is a sad day when convicted are allowed to grace sanctuaries and hence rectories:  Ditto those clergy who have had credible allegations of sex abuse against them.

Yet, this may have to come to pass, or else our pastors are leaving themselves wide open to the same kind of torture that Monsignor Bob Borne has endured for almost three years, coming to a head in recent weeks. During the week of November 21, his name was splashed all over our Valley newspapers.

And why was Monsignor Borne’s name splashed all over the papers?  Perhaps Msgr. Borne  would have done well to think of the consequences before executing his crimes?

But what about his family, a family I have known and loved for more than 50 years?

It is Monsingor Borne who has inflicted the suffering on his family.   It is unfortunate for his family that Msgr. Borne did not foresee the consequences of his actions.

Or, does anyone care any more? The way our modern society operates, as soon as the word “charged” is associated with our name, we have become a criminal, automatically. It doesn’t matter a damn whether we win, or lose in court, the brand still sticks in their minds.

Does Mr. Donahue not know that Monsignor Borne was convicted? Monsignor Robert Borne is a criminal.

But, let us try to find some fairness in the Borne situation. In delicate matters such as this, it takes two to tango, and if one name can be published, both names should be published.

What, pray tell,  is delicate about a predatory priest?  What is delicate about a priest preying on a teenage boy?  

And what precisely does Mr. Donahue mean when he says it takes two tango?  Is that when a boy discovers that a Roman Catholic priest is performing oral sex on him in the middle of the night?  Is that it? Where are the two tangoing here? 

 As for publishing names of the victims, why would Mr. Donahue want the names of the victims published? What purpose would that serve him?  

Or, does Mr. Donahue actually believe the victims are criminals?  Is that it?

If it was a 10- or 12-year-old, by all means, protect him. But when he is a teenager who considers himself mature enough to consume alcohol, I believe he is old enough to suffer the consequences. Nowhere that I’m aware of was there any evidence of anyone else pouring a drink for him, or pouring it down his throat.

A sign of the immaturity of virtually every teenage boy is that he thinks he is  mature enough to consume alcohol when his parents don’t know.  Because a child of any age thinks something is so does not make it so.  Any parent who ahs raised children knows that. 

But, all of the dancing on the head of pin aside, does Mr. Donahue truly believe that Monsignor Borne – a Roman Catholic priest – is entitled to sexually molest any teenage boy because the boy has been drinking?

I have not tasted liquor or beer for over 42 years, but both are available in our home, at all times. I am not always present where they are stored, so have no rigid control over who consumes them.


We have to wonder just how level are the playing fields, where an adult and teenager are

involved? The youth is likely to draw the sympathy of the majority, almost without saying. He is coddled by the Young Offenders Act, or the Youth Justice Act, while the adult has no protection, except his own word. 

The youth is likely to draw the sympathy of the majority? 

Where has Mr. Donahue been?  He apparently has never heard about victims who were spat upon by parishioners?  Nor, apparently has he heard of the countless victims who have been called  liars by  parishioners? 

As for publishing names, the publication ban on the victims names has nothing to do with the Young Offenders Act or Youth Justice Act.  The Borne victims came forward as adults.  

Finally, as for protection, the truth is that, in most instances, it is the word of the adult victim against the word of a Roman Catholic priest.  In some instances, it is the word of a teenager against a Roman Catholic priest. 

Once a charge is laid, this is where the real injustice is more evident, because the police and Crown adopt devious ways of putting pressure on the complainant, because these people never want to lose face. They have three faces to save – the defendant has only himself. Let them try to deny that they apply pressure, I doubt if many would believe them.


The police and Crown put pressure on Monsignor Borne?  How?  When?  Where?  Mr. Donahue should elaborate here. 

What sticks in my mind here is that, let me see, how many charges and victims were whittled away before Borne went to trial?  So, who put pressure on who?  And who stood to gain?  Did the  victims who summoned the courage to come forward only to have their charges dismissed gain?  Or, did Monsignor Borne gain?

Then, when the litigation lawyer appears on the scene, the complainant is constantly reminded of the big bucks he is going to haul in – the more graphic his evidence, the greater the pile of money. We wonder if they confess to him that they are going to skim possibly 25%, 35%, or more off the top, before he sees any of the money? 

If, according to Donahue, the more graphic the evidence the bigger the pile of money, the victims at the Borne trial fell abysmally short of his mark.  In accord with Donahue’s theory they should have testified that they were sodomized nightly for four years.  They did not.  They should have lied and said they were 9 or 10 years old.  They did not. 

As for  lawyers skimming “off the top”- why the sudden concern for the victims?

Once this kind of situation hits the legal level, it becomes messy, and should never escalate to that level. If there is to be real justice, these matters should be settled with nobody else present, except the claimant, his parents, the priest, and the bishop. It is the only way that is fair to all concerned because the identity of both parties can be protected

So, in the mind of Mr. Donahue, “real justice” consists of the priest, the bishop, the complainant and the complainants parents meeting –  behind closed doors.  

Isn’t that what brought us to the mess we’re in in the Church right now?  Gag orders?  Episcopal promises?  Dirty little secrets? Silence? Recycling known predators? 

I don’t know how many parents were involved in behind closed door meetings over the years, but there has been no lack of behind closed door meetings over the years, and all that the large majority of these meetings – if not all –  accomplished, was the recycling of predatory priests, more victims, further betrayal, scandal and loss of faith in the priesthood and/or the Church. 

One more point here.  For a variety of reasons the overwhelming majority of victims of clerical sex abuse do not come forward until they are adults.  As adults they are beyond having their parents in a behind closed door meeting with the bishop and their molester.  A number of these adults had tried as children to tell their parents and/or Church officials about their abuse -.  Mr. Donahue needs to read some of the horrors which befell some of those victims who reached out for help, and were shunned.   

And all of that aside, why would Mr. Donahue or any other Catholic want to protect the identity of a predatory priest? 

Unless there is a real breakdown between bishop and priest, it is highly unlikely that there will be a second offence – once is too often.

Where oh where has Mr. Donahue been?  

It is “highly unlikely” that there will be “a second offence”? 

Is he really serious? 

Does Mr. Donahue really think these predatory priests molest once, and that’s it?  Does he truly believe that a behind closed door meeting with the bishop et al will fix Father’s little problem? 

Is there a convicted clerical molester anywhere who molested once, and only once?

It is common knowledge that where there is an effect, there also has to be a cause.

Why do some priests go wrong? A more fitting question would be: Why are there so few who step over the traces, while there are hundreds of thousands, world-wide, who live up to our high expectations of them?

I think Mr. Donahue  should frame the question as:  Why do Church officials and others tolerate, protect and enable predatory priests?

We expect them to be God, while we overlook the fact that they are, also, just as human as we are. Has anyone who read all this sensational stuff in the newspapers recently, given any thought to what the life of a priest is really like?

I don’t think adults expect their priests to be God, but most expect them to be chaste. That is not an unreasonable expectation, is it?

Having studied in a seminary for 3 1/2 years, I believe I can hazard an educated guess. As I see it, our training is directed more to the positive side of priestly life, but not enough training to prepare us for the negative side, the greatest hurdle being how to cope with loneliness. No question about it, the life of a priest can be more lonely than that of a Maytag repairman, especially starting out, where he is assigned to a parish way back in the boondocks.

Loneliness is an excuse for a priest to sexually abuse children? 

Is that loneliness excuse to be combined with the excuse that priests are free to molest boys who consume alcohol??  Or, does Mr. Donahue think that it can be one or the other, ie,  some priests molest boys because the boys were drinking alcohol, and other priests molest children because they are  so lonely that they just have to go out and sexually abuse a child?  

So, following Mr. Donahue’s logic…. 

A man loses his wife to cancer.  He is terribly lonely after her death.  

So, that’s a good excuse for a widower to start molesting children?  

How far do we go in excusing the inexcusable?

Too often, liquor can be his constant companion, and we are told that liquor played a part in Bob Borne’s nightmare. The real tragedy is that there was no mention, during the trial, of the hundreds of youths he helped to set on the right path.

The kudos for all the ‘good’ Monsignor Borne has done will probably come at sentencing. 

I personally believe that just because the wolf  looks like a sheep he is still very much the wolf. 

I was involved in sports for a great number of years, both in Pembroke, and in the township, where I served as clerk-treasurer, and heard nothing but high praise for the young priest, from the young people who knew him well. Not one — I repeat, NOT ONE – ever mentioned one word about questionable behaviour, and many of them had served Mass for him, and had gone with him to out-of-town sports events.

Mr. Donahue really does need to read up on the deleterious effects of clerical sexual abuse on a child.  And, lest we forget:  “A thief doesn’t rob every house on the block.”

Never, in his lifetime, has he needed those friends to rally around him, more than right now. It may do all of us the world of good to remember that old admonition: Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.

St. Mark 9:42 

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea.



1 Response to Comments on “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

  1. Mike says:

    Mr. Donahue;
    Perhaps you should have stayed in the seminary and became a Roman Catholic priest. You’d fit right in! Keep your head buried in the sand, be a practising hypocrite, and use the whole world to your advantage, all in the name of God. You make me sick to my stomach! Mike

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