Why Does Dana Point's St. Edward the Confessor Church Continue to Honor a Teen Rapist?

By Gustavo Arellano
Orange County Weekly
March 6, 2009

[See also other articles by Gustavo Arellano.]

Leninan second from right, in a picture Brown would eventually Stalinize

Poor St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Dana Point. They have the inglorious Diocese of Orange record of having hosted the most pedo-priests (five) in its history. Just recently, Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown settled another suit involving one of them: Denis Lyons. So, a question: given this sordid past, why on Earth does the parish continue to honor teenage rapist John Lenihan?

On its history page, the St. Edward the Confessor website spins this pretty tale:

In July, 1995, St. Edward parish welcomed its new pastor, Fr. John Lenihan. Fr. John came from St. Boniface parish in Anaheim where he had been a pastor for thirteen years. Full of energy and enthusiasm, he embraced the challenges of Fr. Knight's legacy and worked with the community to face the needs of the future.

In 1999, Fr. John began a capital campaign to purchase 2.5 acres of adjacent property for additional parking, expand and renovate the religious education building, and replace the old church building (Knight Hall) with a functional parish center. The first 2 phases of construction, the parking lot and Religious Education building expansion, were completed in 2001. With the 2005-2006 school year, St. Edward the Confessor parish school will reach its full capacity of 2 classes per grade level, Kindergarten through 8th grade.

In 2001, Fr. Steve Sallot, the rector at Mater Dei High School, was appointed as temporary administrator at St. Edward the Confessor.

What a swell guy, huh?

Here's what the mini-history doesn't tell:

*Lenihan left St. Boniface after the outrage of him having admitted to molesting a 15-year-old girl during the 1970s became too hot.

*Lenihan supervised Lyons and roomed with him. Oh, the stories they must've shared in the kitchen!

*Lenihan left St. Edward after admitting to a consensual sexual relationship with adult women, 'cause, you see, that's too much for Brown.

*In 2003, Lenihan admitted to having molested another teenage girl; the Orange diocese paid out a million and change to settle the civil suit.

So, the question remains: given this sordid past, why on Earth does the parish continue to honor teenage rapist John Lenihan? Even Santa Margarita High has removed all references to pedo-priest Michael Harris from its history page, even though Harris is by far the main reason for its existence. If this scenario bothers you, join the protest outside St. Edward the Confessor this Monday at 3 p.m. outside its steps, a protest led by Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). See you there!



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