Saturday, August 28, 2010

God’s Stand-In

God’s Stand-In
The way Newport Beach molestation survivor Joelle Casteix sees it, the Lord eventually will deal with those in the Roman Catholic Church who tolerate and shield abusers. In the meantime, she’s busy reminding anyone who’ll listen who they are and what they did
By Patrice Apodaca / Photo Illustration by Sean Teegarden
Orange Coast Magazine
Published September 2010

Sunday Mass is under way at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Brea. It’s barely 10 a.m. and the temperature already is in the mid-80s, but inside the sanctuary the air remains cool as the priest preaches to the faithful that God is always present.

Outside on the hot pavement, Joelle Casteix waits. As Mass concludes and the church empties, Casteix quietly approaches departing worshippers and hands them fliers accusing Diocese of Orange Bishop Tod D. Brown of shielding clerics accused of sexual misconduct and failing to warn parishioners of alleged molesters in their midst. “Please HELP US Keep Kids Safe and Protect Victims,” the fliers exhort.

Most of the churchgoers accept the handout silently and move on. Some deposit the fliers in a nearby trash can. A few ask questions and offer support. One woman repeatedly tells Casteix, “I don’t think you’re supposed to be here.” The woman goes back inside, then moments later a church representative emerges. His tone is polite but firm as he cautions Casteix to stay off church property, and it’s tough to miss that he outweighs her by about 100 pounds. She takes a step back, checks to see that her feet are planted on the public sidewalk, and murmurs, “They always send the biggest guys out to deal with me.”

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