IL--Church-goers are warned about Accused “Practicing Priest”
Members of two national groups to leaflet at two local Catholic churches
They identify nine credibly accused sex-offending priests from the Rockford Diocese
Groups urge parishioners to “search for wounded survivors” and call police with information
SNAP: “Church officials refuse to do aggressive outreach”
They demand all offenders be defrocked and all files of offenders be made public
In the wake of a recently-filed lawsuit against the Rockford Diocese and on the cusp of Pope Francis’ first-ever visit to the US, members of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and VOTF (Voice Of The Faithful) will hand out fliers as church-goers arrive for or leave mass at two parishes where the accused priest named in said lawsuit, John C. Holdren, had been assigned.
These fliers will briefly inform church-goers of the lawsuit and also of the ineffective and dangerous records of both the pope and the diocese regarding clergy sexual abuse. The flyers will ask church-goers to do three things:
- Call police if they have seen, suspected, or suffered the accused cleric’s crimes and prod others to do the same
- Question loved ones about these clerics (“Did any of these clerics ever hurt you?”)
- Urge their pastor and bishop to respond to the lawsuit in five ways:
- Create a safe and compassionate environment for victims and others to come forward and treat all accusers with kindness and compassion
- Aggressively “search for wounded survivors,” witnesses, and whistleblowers using parish bulletins, websites, and pulpit announcements
- Defrock and remove all known predators from the diocesan payroll
- Turn over all files of all offending clerics to protect other kids from their crimes
Sunday, Sept 13 at 10:15 am (St. Thomas the Apostle) and 11:45 am (St. John the Baptist)
Outside the front entrance of St. Thomas the Apostle, 451 W. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, IL 60014 (off of Rte 176)
On the sidewalk in front of St. John the Baptist, 2302 W. Church St., Johnsburg, IL 60051
2-5 members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and/or of a Catholic reform group called Voice of the Faithful (VOTF).
A man who grew up in Aurora has filed a child sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against a priest, John C. Holdren, and the Rockford Diocese. The suit charges between 1972 and 1973, a boy, then 7 to 9 years old, “was sexually assaulted” by Holdren at St. Rita of Cascia parish in Aurora. The acts included “inappropriate rubbing, groping and fondling his genitals, masturbation, anal sex, and unwanted sexual advances,” according to the suit.
The suit also charges the Catholic officials in Rockford and elsewhere “allowed (abuse) to occur by making fraudulent representations, concealing criminal activity, obstructing justice and criminal investigations, evading civil and/or criminal liability, and by inculcating parishioners to keep their scandals secret through the guise of religious teachings and spiritual instruction and counseling.”
Unlike other Catholic dioceses, Rockford has yet to release to the public its files on sex-offending priests.
While officials at the diocese insisted this week Holdren “hasn’t been active with the diocese since the ‘90’s,” Holdren claims he is “still a practicing priest” who “helps out” at Our Lady of Mercy in Aurora which is in the Joliet Diocese.
If the Rockford Diocese cut ties with Holdren in the 1990’s, parishioners deserve to know why. If it was because they knew he was a sex offender, parishioners deserve to know why he hasn’t been defrocked like Mark Campobello, another sex-offending priest of the Rockford Diocese who was also assigned to St. Thomas the Apostle in Crystal Lake and whose files are still secret despite his criminal conviction.
While Catholic officials pretend the on-going clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis is waning, thousands of proven, admitted, and credibly accused predator priests are living among unsuspecting neighbors with little or no supervision. (Several hundred are on sex-offender registries but most are not. And most have not been defrocked.)
For the safety of parishioners, SNAP and Chicagoland VOTF want Pope Francis to “defrock, demote or discipline” bishops who continue to “protect predators and endanger kids,” especially by keeping names of child molesting clerics secret as it seems Rockford officials has done for decades in the case of John C. Holdren.
Now, SNAP and Chicagoland VOTF want rank-and-file Catholics to circulate lists of publicly accused predator priests in their diocese and ask loved ones if any of them were hurt by any of the priests.
According to http://BishopAccountability.org (an independent on-line archiver of the church abuse and cover-up crisis), the publicly accused child molesting clerics in this diocese are:
MARK A. CAMPOBELLO
AL F. HARTE
JOHN C. HOLDREN
WILLIAM I. JOFFE
Kate Bochte (630-768-1860, firstname.lastname@example.org); Sandy Stilling-Seehausen (847-987-8188, email@example.com); David Clohessy (314-566-9790, firstname.lastname@example.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.