CT--Victims blast Bridgeport Catholic “healing service”

CT--Victims blast Bridgeport Catholic “healing service”

For immediate release: Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com)

Bridgeport Catholic officials have scheduled a “healing service” on Wednesday, Nov. 2. At worst, this is a cynical public relations move. At best, it misses the mark. 

Bishop Frank Caggiano's focus should be on real reforms that actually make kids safer, not symbolic gestures that make him seem nicer or that make a few adults temporarily feel better. And events like this imply that the crisis is past when in fact it’s not. 

By focusing on “healing,” Caggiano wants us all to believe that prevention is no longer needed. That’s backwards. Only when every cleric who has committed or concealed child sex crimes is identified, ousted, punished and kept away from kids should bishops concentrate on healing.

Caggiano’s first job should be protecting the vulnerable. And much remains to be done on this front. There are 40 publicly accused Bridgeport diocese predator priests. Where are they now?

Caggiano should permanently and prominently post on parish websites – the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of these proven, admitted and credibly accused clerics. (About 30 US bishops have done this.)

He should discipline – publicly and harshly - those who hid or ignored clergy sex crimes, to deter such irresponsible behavior in the first place.

He should support – not oppose – reforming Connecticut's secular child safety laws, especially the archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations.

He should house – in remote, secure, independent treatment centers – every proven, admitted or suspended and credibly accused child molesting cleric, so that kids will be safer.

He should stop using past tense language – like “forgiveness for past harm” – which promotes complacency, not vigilance, and suggests that kids are not still at risk today from child molesting clerics and complicit colleagues and supervisors.

We could go on and on and on.

Quite frankly, adults can heal themselves, with or without action by Bishop Caggiano. (It certainly helps when church officials provide therapy to victims of course.) But kids need bishops to take strong action to protect them from child molesting clerics.

Bishops often talk of persuading parishioners to trust them again. Yet bishops act in ways that undermine trust in them.

Some might argue that many Bridgeport predator priests are elderly and thus somehow “safe” now. That’s wrong.

It takes only seconds for a man to shove his hands down a boy's pants or his tongue down a girl's throat. And who would parents or kids trust more than an elderly, balding, stoop-shouldered, grandfatherly-looking figure?

It's irresponsible for anyone to assume that because a child molester is older, he's somehow safer.

We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Bridgeport diocesan priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and other church employees to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.

But Caggiano should be doing this. And he should have started years ago.

Again, we encourage anyone who saw, suspects, or suffered child sex clergy sex crimes or cover ups to immediately come forward, report what you know, and start healing.

This kind of action is what truly safeguards kids, not gestures like “healing” masses.

Finally, it’s frustrating to watch prelates like Caggiano posture about clergy sex crime and cover ups. By shrewdly using words like “forgiveness,” he perpetuates the comforting but irresponsible myth that most of this is “in the past,” when he knows that’s just not true.

No one ever asks “Do teachers still molest kids?” Or day care workers. Or Scout leaders. We know child molesters always have and always will seek out those jobs. It’s the same with priests.

Caggiano knows that earlier this year, Vatican officials lifted the suspension of a priest who pled guilty to molesting a girl last year. (Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul)

Caggiano knows that in January, two US bishops who’d resigned for hiding child sex crimes were quietly put back on the job in different states. (Bishop Robert Finn and Archbishop John Nienstedt)

Caggiano knows that seven year old girls and 12 year old boys don’t ride their bikes downtown to the prosecutors’ office to report current child sex crimes. There always has been and always will be decades of delay between when child sex crimes happen and when they’re reported. So years from now, we’ll hear from the kids being assaulted today by priests. It’s silly to assume otherwise.

Caggiano knows that earlier this year, a high-ranking Catholic official told bishops in Rome they need not report child sex crimes to police.

Caggiano knows that no bishop on earth has been defrocked, demoted or disciplined for enabling child sex crimes.

Yet instead of aggressively being open, prodding his colleagues to reform, and denouncing those who won’t, Caggiano insists on gestures that comfort adults instead of action that protects kids, while pretending that the crisis is over when he knows it is not.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 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, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747bblaine@snapnetwork.org)

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