For immediate release: Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A Delaware priest, who claims there’s a “war on the Roman Catholic priesthood” has just been elected head of America's Catholic religious orders. He also insists that two convicted child molesters are innocent and that prosecutors are “overzealous.” We think he’s an extremist.
He is Fr. James J. Greenfield, an official with the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. He insists that his colleague Fr. Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Spero, who were found guilty of child sex crimes in January by a Philadelphia jury, were wrongly convicted.
Fr. Greenfield is the new president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, purportedly representing some 17,000 religious order clerics in the US. ( http://www.cmsm.org/ )
Some of Fr. Greenfield’s more incendiary remarks were made on a Philadelphia blog by Ralph Cipriano called “Big Trial.”
Fr. Greenfield’s election sends a depressing and chilling message to thousands of clergy sex abuse victims. Decades into the church’s horrific and on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis, Catholic officials are still elevating colleagues who deny and mischaracterize the scandal.
We strongly doubt that Fr. Greenfield spent hours with Fr. Engelhardt’s victim, as police and prosecutors surely did, or spent weeks and weeks listening to testimony from all sides, as jurors did.
Much like disgraced Philadelphia Archbishop Justin Rigali, who publicly blasted law enforcement officials over dozens and dozens of local pedophile priest cases, Fr. Greenfield also attacks Philadelphia’s prosecutors.
"In my opinion, there is something not right inside the D.A's office," Fr. Greenfield told a blogger.
There are thousands of religious order priests in the US who don't claim there’s a “war” against Catholic priests and who don’t claim that they’re right and that police, prosecutors, jurors, a victim and a judge are all wrong. We wish one of them had been elected to head the CMSM. We hope America’s religious order priests had made a more judicious choice and that they don’t end up regretting their decision to boost the career of such an extremist as Fr. Greenfield.
As a Catholic physician who has met many who have been sexually abused by priests, and who myself was sexually assaulted by a Carmelite priest when I was a young doctor in Ireland, the election of Fr Greenfield reinforces in me the reality of the arrogance and pathology of some in the leadership of the priesthood, where there seems to be no conscience about raping children and no desire to follow the dictates of Jesus to protect the innocence of children. More and more parents are moving their children out of Catholic schools, since there seems to be a lack of interest by the church to become accountable for clergy sexual abuse, and children remain at risk.
Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago