For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 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)
The Vatican has announced that Bishop Cirilo Flores is the new head of the San Diego diocese. We’re disappointed and worried by this move.
Flores spent years in the Diocese of Orange, a diocese with a very troubling track record in concealing crimes and endangering kids. For more than a decade, he was on a small panel there dealing with clergy sex crimes and cover ups. Flores did little or nothing that showed any real courage or compassion.
In fact, while he was in leadership posts, he helped keep secret the crimes, status and whereabouts of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
Often Catholics feel hopeful when a new bishop is named. Many of them naively assume the new guy will do better at protecting kids than the old guy. But that’s rarely the case.
The newer breed of bishop is usually just more media savvy than the older breed. Prelates like Flores seem more warm and outgoing and open. But when it comes to dealing with clerics who commit or conceal child sex crimes, they almost always act in the same reckless, callous and deceitful ways as their predecessors.
So we urge San Diego Catholics and citizens to avoid the temptation to become complacent. Complacency protects no one. Only vigilance protects children.
And we urge San Diego Catholics and citizens to share anything they know or suspect about child sex crimes and cover ups with law enforcement, no matter how old, small or seemingly insignificant the information or suspicions may be. It’s our duty to contact police and prosecutors if we see, suspect or suffer crimes. It’s their duty to determine whether action can be taken.
And when law enforcement cannot pursue a case, we urge victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to contact other independent sources of help – therapists, support groups, loved ones – rather than give up and carry the burden alone.