For immediate release: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013
Juneau’s top Catholic official is the new head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Child and Youth Protection.”
We call on Bishop Edward Burns to take two immediate steps.
First, Burns should post names of predator priests on his church websites. This is the quickest and easiest way any Catholic prelate can protect kids right now. As head of the “child protection” committee, it’s crucial that Burns lead by example.
Roughly 20 US bishops have taken this simple, proven, inexpensive safety measure (starting with Tucson and Baltimore dioceses in 2002). Days ago, Minnesota’s top Catholic official pledged to do so soon. The Philadelphia archdiocese posts the names, photos and work histories of predator priests.
Second, Burns should mount an aggressive campaign to persuade his colleagues to post their own lists of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
By their own admission, some 7,000 US priests are accused of molesting girls and boys. Some are dead. A few are behind bars. But most, we are convinced, are living and working among unsuspecting neighbors and colleagues. Most get little or no supervision or monitoring. Those who are monitored, we believe, are not monitored well.
Why are so many child molesting clerics not in prison? Because Catholic bishops hid their crimes until the statute of limitations expired and they could not be prosecuted.
Catholic bishops recruited, educated, ordained, hired, trained, transferred and protected most of these pedophile priests. And by stonewalling police, deceiving prosecutors, intimidating victims, threatening whistleblowers, discrediting witnesses, fabricating alibis, destroying evidence and exploiting legal loopholes, Catholic bishops prevented the prosecution of these predator priests.
Now, the absolute least Catholic bishops can do is to post the names of their child molesting clerics on parish and diocesan websites so that parents, parishioners and the public can be warned about these dangerous clerics.
We hope Burns shows - by his actions, not his words – that he takes his new post seriously and will lead courageously.