Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others. . .

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Letter to the Editor

Pembroke Daily Observer

10 December 2011


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.

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.

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

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. 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

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.

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.

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?

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. 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.

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? 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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Al Donohue, Pembroke,ON

10 Responses to Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others. . .

  1. Suzanne says:

    Maybe Mr. Donohue should have a copy of the court transcripts; so that he can read the words of “Bob Borne”; Sylvia has it right…”unbelievable”; why are these defenders of criminals not able to separate family from the individual and HIS crimes? Recently I had an aunt from up the valley; defend in a similar fashion; her words were; “it’s such a long way he had to fall…” and “for years families hid things in the closet and this is no different”…all I can say is she got an earful; the lines are probably still ringing up the Douglas way… education; education; education; tell everyone you meet and know about this site and hopefully their eyes will become more open to the REAL story of clergy abuse and not just the grocery gossip lines…

  2. Leona says:

    I’m assuming the Pembroke Observer is a secular newspaper. It’s hard to believe they printed such tripe. It would seem that a massive letter writing campaign should be in order. This man needs an education.

  3. 1yellowknife says:

    Why would a responsible newspaper publish something so hurtful for the victims. This was not a victimless crime.

  4. Julie says:

    In the event that Mr. Donohue actually reads this site, I offer the following to him directly.

    Sir, after reading your comments, I find myself thankful that, for whatever reasons, you chose to leave your studies in the seminary. Had you continued, I fear that your attitude would have greatly contributed to the coverup that has unfortunately plagued so many cases of clerical abuse. You suggest that a dialogue between a victim, his or her parents, the offending priest and his bishop would solve the problem and prevent additional victims. What do you base your opinion on sir? If you were aware of sex offender research, you would realize that the majority of child sexual offenders have several victims before they are caught and sadly they often have more even after they have been. Perhaps your desire to see the good in people is blinding you to reality. Are you seriously suggesting that Monsignor Borne’s offensive behaviours should somehow be excused because he did good for other teens? I hope this was simply a rashly typed sentiment. Albeit on perhaps an arguably different scale, history would suggest that Hilter also did good things for Germany at the outset of his time in power there. Should we simply excuse the fact that he was responsible for senseless murders of so many victims because of the good that he did?

    Perhaps in future, before you sit at your computer to exercise your right to speak your opinion, you could take a moment and think about the real victims and the harm that your ill chosen words cause. Then, if you decide to proceed with expressing such a blindly emotional response at least you won’t be able to say you didn’t know and you will have to own the consequences of your decision. You can choose to support the victims (and for that matter Monsignor Borne should he be willing to accept responsibility for his actions) or you can simply continue to enable.

  5. Larry Green says:

    It truly is mind boggling 1yellowknife and I really wish it didn’t bother me as much as it does. In the grander scheme of things though maybe there is an inadvertent good produced insofar as it exposes in full view a prevailing twisted mindset that is in my view fostered by the church and it’s secretive enablers. Perhaps it is for the better that they come out into the open , I’m not sure how but maybe it is, at the very least so that the world can see what a fool really looks like.
    It is so frustrating. I know these people and I know that if you don’t have the capacity to turn water into wine , then you will not shed any light on the truth for them and I’m not sure that even He can.

  6. Ceilidhe says:

    To Al Donahue: You forgive Borne after he molests your children and ruins their lives!

    That this letter was published by a newspaper, even a rag like the Pembroke Observer, is unbelievable. I guess we should turn the other cheek when a priest molests a child? Maybe offer him your other child?

    The ‘Al Donahue’s’ of the world have enabled child molester priests long enough and we aren’t going to stand for it anymore! I don’t care how ‘good’ Bob Borne’s family is. He is still a child molester, a CONVICTED child molester!

  7. Mike says:

    Al Donohue; Please do not whitewash this issue! The fact of the matter is that Robert Borne was a trusted civic and church official, who was not forced into deviant behaviour bu anyone but himself. To ask for sympathy for him because of the “lonely life” priests have to live is like slapping the face of the complainant. He freely chose to become a priest of God, and he also freely chose to abuse his position. I am quite sure that you would have a different opinion if it had been you, or one of your children, that had been abused by Borne. Please think a bit more about this, Al.

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