Parishioners Feel Blindsided over Priest's Past Sex Abuse

By Cameron Jahn
Sacramento Bee [Sacramento CA]
July 14, 2003

Standing in the sun outside St. Francis of Assisi church Sunday, Felipe Sanches looked at the ground, took a deep breath and struggled to describe his conflicted emotions.

It was the first Sunday Mass since it was revealed Friday that for the past six weeks a priest who had admitted to sexually abusing minors decades ago had been living on the property. Due to "an extraordinary degree of public attention," church officials removed the Rev. Gus Krumm the same day.

Sanches wondered aloud how long it would take for a parish to accept a priest tainted by sexual misconduct or whether two decades was long enough. Some at St. Francis expressed anger that Krumm had been allowed to live at the parish, while others thought the priest had redeemed himself by seeking treatment. Many people interviewed, however, wanted to know why church leaders had kept the congregation in the dark about Krumm.

"As a teacher, what do I do?" asked Sanches, who teaches catechism classes to children at St. Francis. "The big thing is that the actions of one do not negate the people in the community who have been hurt."

Six weeks ago, Krumm, 49, was moved from an Oregon parish to St. Francis in midtown, where he lived with the friars near the adjoining elementary school. Church officials insist that Krumm did not deliver sermons and had no interaction with children or the school.

Parishioners will have an opportunity to further discuss the issue at a forum Tuesday night at the church. More than 150 people applauded the Rev. Anthony Garibaldi after he announced the meeting during Sunday's noon Mass. The meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. in Brunsman Hall.

Sheila Logan said the gathering is a good idea but that problems in the church should be handled behind closed doors.

"I think this is an intensely personal struggle that we have within our own family, and it doesn't need to be discussed in the news," she said.

Garibaldi said he was "saddened by the decision" to remove Krumm but offered no details on where the priest might end up. "Father Gus was placed here because he is our brother," he said. "At times, members of our family behave in ways that we do not condone or believe in, but we do not cast them off or reject them."

Over the past year and a half revelations of sexual abuse by priests have sprung up in dioceses across the nation, including a few in Sacramento. The Roman Catholic Church has been criticized for keeping abusive priests in their posts or secretly shuffling them to other parishes.

Krumm was one of 11 friars implicated in 1993, by an independent review board, of sexually abusing 34 boys at a Santa Barbara seminary during the 1970s and 1980s. Krumm left the seminary in 1987.

Krumm disclosed his past sexual misconduct in May 2002 while working at a Portland, Ore., parish, and he was immediately removed. Shortly afterward, Krumm began working with the Independent Response Team, a group of five psychologists and counselors specializing in sexual abuse that was set up by the Franciscan Friars after the 1993 Santa Barbara incident. One member of the group will attend Tuesday's meeting.

Standing near the steps of St. Francis, Peggy Partington said the church should devote its energy to forgiving Krumm.

"We don't condone what happened, but it's all about forgiveness," said Partington, a single tear streaking down her cheek behind dark sunglasses.


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