IL--Victims predict Springfield bishop’s criticism
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 10
Statement by David Clohessy of SNAP (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
In his news conference today, we suspect that Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki will criticize our group for raising concerns about what he’ll call “old” cases.
If he does, we hope citizens and Catholics will ask him about these more recent cases:
--Why, just last week, did Paprocki try to evade responsibility for out-of-state predator priests who spent time in the Springfield diocese, and claim that other Catholic officials should be more forthcoming about these predators, not him?
--Why, 1.5 years ago, did Paprocki let a priest who’s accused of child sex crimes temporarily resign, instead of suspending him? (That’s what the US bishops pledged to do when credible child sex abuse reports surfaced. That’s what the US bishops’ official sex abuse policy mandates.)
--Why, 1.5 years ago, did Paprocki keep the allegations against that priest, Fr. Robert “Bud” DeGrand, secret for weeks, giving Fr. DeGrand plenty of time to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, fabricate alibis and even flee the country?
(Remember: Every day a child sex abuse report is kept hidden, a child sex abuser is free to keep abusing. Every day of secrecy and delay makes it harder for police and prosecutors to pursue child predators.)
--Why, 1.5 years ago, did Paprocki refuse to even respond to our pleas that he personally go to parishes in Jacksonville, Winchester, Bluffs, Granite City, and other places where Fr. DeGrand worked?
--Why in 2013 did Paprocki remove two thing from his diocesan website: a report on clergy sexual misconduct (and financial misdeeds) in the diocese by ex-U.S. attorney J. William Roberts and any hint that Bishop Daniel Ryan “engaged in illicit sex or otherwise did anything improper” which Roberts’ report had found?
--Why, that same year, did Paprocki not address allegations that the diocesan panel “that once screened candidates for the seminary is no longer active, according to one panel member.”
--Why, that same year, did Paprocki refuse to do an interview about all this?
--Why, in 2010, did Paprocki refuse to reach out to anyone in the Springfield area who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misdeed by Fr. Henry Willenborg?
--Why has Paprocki refused to post predators’ names on his website, as 30 US bishops have done?
Paprocki relentlessly promotes the myth that the Catholic church’s abuse and cover up crisis is entirely in the past, trying to deflect attention from his recent and repeated efforts to keep as much about clergy sex crimes concealed as possible.
We suspect today, Paprocki will also
--repeat his irresponsible claim that the church is “the safest” place for kids.
--tout all the church’s policies, protocols, and procedures about abuse. But policies, protocols and procedures are meaningless in monarchies in which the guys at the top face no “checks and balances” on their power and can therefore violate those policies, protocols and procedures with impunity.
More than 6,300 US priests have been publicly accused of sexually assaulting kids. It wasn’t a lack of policies, protocols and procedures that caused this. It was a lack of courage, compassion and honesty that caused this - the same lack of courage, compassion and honesty that Paprocki continues to display.
Since their bishop refuses to warn parishioners and the public about predators, we hope Springfield citizens and Catholics will help us do this. And since Paprocki refuses to do real outreach to abuse victims, we hope Springfield citizens and Catholics will help us do this too.
We beg Springfield citizens and Catholics: If you care about innocent kids and wounded victims, please spread the word about the ten publicly accused Springfield priests (See BishopAccountability.org)
Please spread the word about the two out-of-state priests, Fr. Frank R. Martinez and Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald, we exposed last week as having spent time in the Springfield diocese.
Please ask your friends and family if they saw, suspected or suffered any crimes by these clerics. And if so, please urge them to call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids, deter cover ups and start healing.
(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)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.