FL--Victims prod bishop to act re soon-to-be-freed predator priest
For immediate release: Monday, Feb. 16
For the safety of children, Tampa’s Catholic bishop must take action now about Fr. Robert Schaeufele, a just-freed serial predator priest.
Bishop Robert Lynch should visit every parish where Fr. Schaeufele ever worked, imploring anyone with information or suspicions about the predator priest to call law enforcement.
Of the 20 publicly accused Tampa/St. Petersburg predator priests, Fr. Schaeufele is among the most prolific. He faces at least two dozen accusers.
Lynch’s predecessors and colleagues recruited, educated, ordained, hired, trained, transferred and shielded Fr. Schaeufele, repeatedly giving him access to hundreds of kids. So Lynch can’t wash his hands now and pretend to have no responsibility for or power over this child molester or this troubling situation.
Lynch can and should use pulpit announcements, church bulletins and parish websites to beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered Fr. Schaeufele’s crimes to call police. He should send mailings to former church members and staff who may have spent time around Fr. Schaeufele, urging them to do the same. He should get out from behind his desk, shove his public relations staff aside, and personally hold a news conference pleading with parishioners and the public to step forward if they might, in any way, be able to help police and prosecutors file more charges against this dangerous man.
In short, Lynch should stop acting like a cold-hearted CEO and start acting like a compassionate shepherd.
Lynch reportedly is making counselors available to Schaeufele’s victims. But again, Lynch’s top priority should be to help vulnerable kids who Schaeufele may assault in the future.
Our hearts ache for Chris McCafferty and every single person who was hurt by Fr. Schaeufele. Our hearts also ache for every single child sex abuse victim in Florida who never saw their perpetrators jailed or exposed because of the state’s archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations.
(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)