In e-mail comments to CNA, Padusniak said he wrote the piece not to shame the woman behind This Catholic Girl, but he said he felt it was the right thing to do to let her followers know about her true identity.
“I felt I had a responsibility to let people know so they could heal, forgive, and pray for this person, who is clearly deeply in need of our love.”
Padusniak said he has appreciated that the reaction to his piece has been mostly heartfelt, with people offering him kind words and prayers.
Some reactions, though, have been more angry, negative or sarcastic. It’s understandable, Padusniak said, because many people were hurt by this woman’s deception, but ultimately he said that the woman behind This Catholic Girl is the one who is most in need of prayers, love and forgiveness at this time.
“She hurt a lot of people and that's horrible, but she's not an evil person; she's hurt, broken, stuck in darkness,” he said.
Padusniak said that while he does feel hurt about being lied to, he doesn’t otherwise feel particularly violated by the situation, because the deception of This Catholic Girl was so widespread and affected not just him but many others.
Another person on Catholic Twitter, who preferred to remain anonymous, relayed to Catholic News Agency that he had had a similarly confusing and deceitful experience with El after they had formed a relationship over the social media forum.
But it could have been so much worse, Padusniak said.
“This woman didn't try to take money from me. We're Catholic, so it wasn't a sexual relationship. She turned to this in pain, maybe loneliness, and we'd do best to keep that in mind. Again, she has hurt many (her husband included), but the reality is that most people know less about this than I do; they don't understand that this person hurt others not from some deep, malicious evil, but from sadness,” he added.
When asked if he could give his past self advice to protect himself from catfishing, Padusniak said he does wish he would have video chatted with El to confirm her identity, even though he is usually averse to video chatting.
“I would certainly tell my former self to video chat at least once - it's an easy way to check, even if you aren't a fan of the medium,” he said.
Looking back, the only other suspicious thing about El’s online presence was that there seemed to be very few if any photos of her uploaded by other people, and very few photos of her with other people.
“At minimum, it's a good sign that someone is real if they appear with others, especially in others' pictures,” he said.
Several times in his comments, Padusniak reiterated that while the incident hurt him and many others, the person who is most suffering the fallout of this incident is the woman behind the facade, who largely acted out of sadness and loneliness rather than out of true malice, he said. He asked that Catholic Twitter and all who hear about her story offer This Catholic Girl prayers and forgiveness.
“She's repenting, and that's all we can ask. Who of us has not been in need of forgiveness? The only Christian response is love and forgiveness.”