Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In this Cristmas season, an infant is found in a Walmart trash can: "Where ox and ass are feeding"

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?

William C. Dix
What Child Is This?

On the Friday before Christmas--the eve of Christmas eve--an infant was found in a Walmart restroom trash can in the town of New Roads, Louisiana. Kyandrea Thomas was arrested, and she faces charges of attempted second degree murder. Police say Thomas gave birth to the child in a Walmart bathroom and deposited the baby in a trash can.

A local district attorney believes Thomas is the same woman who pled guilty to negligent homicide in 2011 for the death of a three-year old who was left in a day-care center van for nearly six hours in "scorching heat." 

In this Christmas season, it is hard not to compare the birth of a baby in a Walmart restroom to the birth of Christ more than two millennia ago. Surely a Walmart trash can is the modern day equivalent of a stable where ox and ass were feeding. Surely a child born in a Walmart restroom lies in mean estate equivalent to the manger of the Christ.

"Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Til he appeared and the soul felts its worth."

I embraced Catholicism more than 20 years ago. I was attracted by its beauty, its rigor, and the glorious witness of the saints. I see it now in simpler terms. 

When all the bishops and priests, cathedrals and theological tomes are set aside, my Catholic faith is simply this: God entered the world in the form of a child and affirmed the dignity of humankind. That child is the Christ, who continues to be present to us in the sacraments.

Our politicians and pundits assure us we live in "the best of all possible worlds," a world of rising prosperity and increased devotion to human rights. After all, transgender people can urinate in the restroom of their choice. Isn't that a sign that the trajectory of secular humanism will bring us to the Promised Land?

Indeed, some us do live in a kind of ersatz Promised Land. The people who read the New York Times and buy the luxury goods the Times advertises may think they live in the best of all possible worlds. 

But less than a week ago, an infant was found in a trash can in a small-town Walmart restroom. And this child, unlike Jesus, did not have Mary to nurse her, did not have Joseph to protect her and keep her safe.

Surely this is still a world where the soul does not yet feels its worth. 


Newborn found in trash at New Roads Wal-Mart in stable condition Monday. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, December 27, 2016, p. 1B.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Which sin is worse--divorce or child rape? Let's ask Monsignor Richard Mouton

Awhile back I posted a letter I had written to Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel, reporting that I been treated rudely by Monsignor Richard Mouton in the confession booth. After asking several shocking sexual questions, Monsignor Mouton refused to confess me because I was divorced.

I delivered the letter to Bishop Deshotel on September 14, 2016. It is now December, and I have yet to receive Bishop Deshotel's response. I don't expect one.

Since that experience, I have learned that Monsignor Mouton was one of the priests in the Lafayette Diocese who figured in the the sexual abuse scandal involving Father Gilbert Gauthe, who was eventually convicted of sexually abusing children. In 1984, the Lafayette Diocese settled claims by nine child victims for more than $4 million, with the children's attorneys getting about a third.

Father Gauthe's hellish behavior, which included anal intercourse and oral sex with children, first became public in 1983, but it came to light in the course of litigation that Monsignor Richard Mouton had received reports from parents in 1976 that Father Gauthe had kissed two boys.

Monsignor Mouton was the pastor of the Catholic church in Abbeville at the time, and Father Gauthe was the assistant pastor. According to reporter Jason Berry, who wrote a book about the Gauthe tragedy, Monsignor Mouton responded to this news by "ordering [Gauthe] to move to an upstairs bedroom in the rectory."

Seven years later, Gauthe's sexual predations came to light; and parents of some of the victims contacted  a lawyer.

 Monsignor Mouton, apparently hoping to quiet things down, invited Roy Robichaux, father of three of Gauthe's victims, to come to the rectory for a little chat. Robichaux told Monsignor Mouton that he was notifying other parents whose children might also have been victimized by Gauthe.

According to reporter Berry's account, Monsignor did not approve. "Should anyone get hurt, Mouton admonished, the guilt would rest on Roy [Robichaux] for making it public."

Monsignor Mouton then said something that shocked Mr. Robichaux profoundly: "Think how Gauthe's mother would feel."

Robichaux responded as any good Cajun father would under the circumstances. "How in the fuck do you think the mothers of these kids feel?"

But Mouton continued to downplay what happened to Robichaux's three children. "The boys were young, Mouton said gently. They would bounce back and get over these things."

Later, Mouton telephone Robichaux and offered to hear the three children's confessions. Robichaux reportedly said no. "My sons do not need confession! They did nothing wrong."

So here's a theological question. In the eyes of God,who is the worst sinner--a priest who puts his penis in a child's rectum  or a divorced Catholic who seeks the consolation of the sacraments?

I'll ask Monsignor Mouton that question the next time I see him, but I think I already know his answer.

Father Gilbert Gauthe


Jason Berry. Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children. New York; Doubleday, 1992.

Jason Berry. The Tragedy of Gilbert Gauthe (Part 1). Times of Acadiana, May 23, 1985.

Mary Gail Frawley O'Dea. Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2007.