San Antonio Winery - La Times photo
Imagine turning on the television today, and viewing a documentary on a historical California winery on the screen produced by the California Bountiful Foundation. Now expand that thought, and picture the San Antonio Winery in Southern California, a landmark that has survived 97 years, and is commissioned by the Catholic Church to produce "Sacramental Wines" used in Holy Mass, throughout the USA.
This specific wine is claimed to literally and symbolically represent "the blood of Jesus Christ" during the holy mass, and is poured into the sacred chalice on the altar in celebration of the revered Catholic Sacrament.
So far, my suggestion may seem innocent, and the show can be interesting and educational. You may even have a glass of San Antonio sacramental wine to enjoy as you watch the presentation. The winery is beautifully depicted by the producers at California Bountiful Foundation.
Recently, I did in fact, turn on the television to surprisingly watch this holy wine inspired documentary, and I found it entertaining for several minutes. But then, the show took me on a dark journey into past recollection. Irony has a way of sneaking up on me, and haunting me to remind me that I have experienced an undeserved evil that can surface like a plague at any moment. It's called PTSD.
Now imagine that you were raped by a San Francisco Catholic priest, and your childhood was derailed and you were repeatedly violated, and in the year 2003 you came forward with your story; and you were countered with vehement opposition. To make matters worse, the Catholic church officials and spokesperson in San Francisco claimed you were "fabricating a tale" and that the priest was unjustly accused.
This is not an episode of the Twilight Zone, although it could be.
This horrific, and factual scenario escalated into a five year legal battle with the Catholic priest abuser Fr. Whelan, the Salesians of San Francisco, and numerous battles with Cardinal Levada's SF Diocesan representatives. All of which, I, the accuser won - by court jury verdict in July 2006, and also in the Supreme High Appellate Court in August 2008.
This nightmare insipidly reappeared a few days ago, simultaneously as my jaw dropped when I viewed the expert spokesperson for the Catholic Church proudly revealing the details concerning the purity of Sacramental Wine. The priest chosen for the interview for the show was none other than the infamous child molester who sexually abused me - Fr. Stephen Whelan, from St. Peter and Paul's Catholic Church in San Francisco.
According to the quotes on the California Bountiful show, and on their website, "the (sacramental wine) must be natural, made from natural grapes, and not corrupt".
How ironic. What about the clergy spokesperson for the holy wine? Is he allowed to be corrupt? The show then continues to quote the clergy sex abuser, Fr. Whelan: "Sacramental wine is pure wine. You don't add colorings, flavorings, sugars, preservatives, or water".
Another audacious line quoted by the show itself:
" Many members of the clergy value San Antonio's wine for more than just religious purposes".
Well, that's an understatement. Take it from a knowledgeable victim of the church. They absolutely do use the wine for more than religious purposes. Especially Fr. Whelan.
The audacity of the Catholic church, to allow the child abuser Fr. Whelan to boldly represent the wine they claim is transformed into their quoted "blood of Jesus Christ", is an insult to all clergy abuse victims, and a testament to the continued debasement of ethics by the Catholic Church in San Francisco. It is also insulting to the Catholic Church, and California Bountiful, whether they choose to realize it or not.