Canada- Victims blast Ottawa bishop over abuse
For immediate release: Thursday, March 6, 2014
For more info: Melanie Jula Sakoda 925-708-6175 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cappy Larson email@example.com, David Clohessy 314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
Victims blast Ottawa bishop
He professes "neutrality" in clergy sex case
But group says that "helps criminals & hurts kids"
They want diocese-wide ban on backing predators
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is blasting an Ottawa bishop for claiming to be neutral in a dispute over a fundraising event for a convicted archbishop.
Last week members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, wrote to the leader of the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), asking him to denounce a proposed March 5th fundraiser in Ottawa for Archbishop Seraphim Storheim. The group also asked the bishop to order church employees and to urge parishioners to refrain from publicly supporting Storheim. The archbishop was convicted in January of sexually abusing an 11 year old altar boy.
In an email to SNAP on March 04, 2014, Bishop Irenee Rochon (613-223-7780, firstname.lastname@example.org), the bishop of Québec City, refused to help. He wrote, “This painful affair is still before the courts and until the process is complete, the Church will continue its position of neutrality. … The Church has not engaged in any fundraising activities, but it cannot condemn the activities of parishioners while the matter is still before the courts.”
(The complete text of the email is pasted below.)
Rochon was appointed as the administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada after Storheim’s arrest in November, 2010, on charges of abusing 11 year old twin boys.
“This bishop is rubbing salt into the wounds of child sex abuse victims and deterring others from speaking up,” said Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP. “Neutrality should have ended when Archbishop Seraphim was convicted. And neutrality in child sex cases always favors the predator. Leaders can make it either harder or easier for those who suffer, see or suspect child sex crimes to come forward. Men like Bishop Irenee are making it harder. Shame on him!”
Cappy Larson, also of SNAP added, “Orthodox officials would certainly denounce parishioners who threatened witnesses or sent death threats to prosecutors. Why? Because such actions are hurtful and impede justice. Allowing members of the Orthodox community to publicly support a convicted child molester intimidates victims, witnesses and whistleblowers. This may be a lot more subtle, but it just as harmful and impedes justice just as much.”
SNAP wants Rochon to apologize for his "insensitive" remarks and publicly urge all parishioners to "stop public displays of support for convicted child molesting clerics."
(The complete text of the victims’ group letter to Rochon is pasted below.)
SNAP leaders also think it’s disingenuous to refer to some of those public supporters of Storheim as mere “parishioners.” “The testimonies supporting Archbishop Seraphim on the website which advertized the fundraiser include those of a retired OCA bishop, an OCA subdeacon who is also a member of an archdiocesan fundraising committee, and two men who have held leadership positions in the archdiocese for years,” said Larson.
“Archbishop Irenee issued a memorandum last week reminding church officials not to participate in fundraising efforts for Archbishop Seraphim. But talk is cheap. I want to know what he plans to do to those who continue to defy his directive, and when he’s going to step up to the plate and do it,” added Sakoda.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo (604-826-9336, email@example.com) is a retired OCA bishop. He is listed on the OCA website as the “Former Archbishop of Ottawa.”
Jeremy Scratch is a subdeacon and a member of the Saint Tikhon Archdiocesan Stewards Committee (613-233-7780, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alexander Ovodov (604-904-9550, email@example.com) is a parishioner and webmaster at Sobor of the Holy Resurrection in Vancouver, British Columbia (Rector: Archpriest Mikhail Fourik 604-325-1922 work, 604-322-0024 home, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ovodov was also the webmaster of the Canadian archdiocese’s site from 2007 until, according to a newspaper account, Storheim’s conviction.
Rod Tkachuk (780-428-1593, email@example.com) served on the archdiocesan council for many years.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, email@example.com)
From: Bishop Irénée [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2014 7:28 AM
To: Elizabeth Fahling
Subject: Re: Fundraiser for Archbishop Seraphim Storheim
H.G. Bishop Irénée
31, Rue LeBreton N.
Dear Mr. Clohessy, Mrs Larson and Mrs Sakoda,
I acknowledge receipt of your letter about the fundraiser in Ottawa. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
This painful affair is still before the courts and until the process is complete, the Church will continue its position of neutrality, continuously praying for all who are suffering.
The Church has not engaged in any fundraising activities, but it cannot condemn the activities of parishioners while the matter is still before the courts.
The Archdiocese has sent a directive to all clergy and those holding a position within the Archdiocesan administration reminding them to maintain their neutrality in this matter until the completion of the judicial process.
Wishing you a peaceful Lent, I remain yours truly in Christ,
Bishop of Québec, Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada.
Right Reverend Irenee Rochon
Archdiocese of Canada
9600 rue St-Denis Apt A101
Montreal, QC H2M 1P2 Canada
SENT BY FAX and EMAIL:
March 5, 2014
Re: Your email of March 4th, 2014
Dear Bishop Irenee:
We are in receipt of the above referenced email. We are extremely disappointed to read that “the Church will continue its position of neutrality. … The Church has not engaged in any fundraising activities, but it cannot condemn the activities of parishioners while the matter is still before the courts.”
Bishop Irenee, the time for neutrality has ended. Archbishop Seraphim has been convicted in a court of law. He will commence his sentence before an appeal can be resolved.
Moreover, neutrality in child sex cases always favors the predator. Leaders can make it either harder or easier for those who suffer, see or suspect child sex crimes to come forward. Sadly, Bishop Irenee, you are making it harder.
We hope that you will take a second look at this hurtful situation, apologize for your thoughtless and extremely insensitive words, and speak out boldly on this deplorable situation. Please, urge your entire flock to stop the public expressions of support for a convicted, child molesting cleric.
David Clohessy of St. Louis, MO, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Cappy Larson of San Francisco, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (email@example.com)
Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (925-708-6175 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org)