IL--Victims respond to full Bishop Paprocki statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 10
Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki blasted our group and the news media today, twice deceptively using the phrase "rumors and gossip" and accusing journalists of reporting “without question” allegedly “false and defamatory claims.” (We've just now gotten a copy of his statement.)
Again, he’s being disingenuous.
Paprocki knows that our information came directly from the Official Catholic Directory. Not the Official SNAP Directory. Not the "Make It Up Yourself” Directory. The Official Catholic Directory. Maybe he should complain to the publishers of the Official Catholic Directory about “rumors and gossip” and “false and defamatory claims.”
Paprocki also knows that media outlets don't report "rumors and gossip" and that mistakes, even by the Official Catholic Directory, are not “defamatory.”
He's trying, again, to deflect attention away from his irresponsible refusal to
---be more honest about the 12 publicly accused predator priests who have been in his diocese,
---post their names on his diocesan website and in his parish bulletins, and
---aggressively reach out to anyone who may have been hurt in the Springfield area by Fr. Frank R. Martinez or Fr. J. Vincent Fitzgerald.
With these two clerics, Paprocki splits hairs. Accusations against one of them happened before he was in Springfield, he says. Accusations against the other happened after he left Springfield, he says. But who cares?
The simple fact is that both priests were in this area, both are credibly accused predators, and Paprocki’s responsible for the well-being of his flock. It doesn’t matter at all in which hemisphere or decade they committed their crimes. What matters is that in this diocese, there may be a woman who gets drunk every night or a man who is suicidal. And the cause of their pain may well be Fr. Martinez or Fr. Fitzgerald or one of the other ten publicly accused Springfield area predator priests (who were raised here and ordained here and worked here and mostly molested here).
Paprocki could reach out to these wounded victims. Instead, he attacks our support group and local journalists. He should be ashamed of himself.
Finally, he goes on at length about the procedures and policies of the diocese, neglecting to mention that these are all national church requirements. It’s as if he pretends the income tax he pays is a voluntary donation to the government. The weak, small, grudging and belated steps being taken in Springfield, and other dioceses, are public relations and legal defense maneuvers forced on recalcitrant bishops by decades of horrific scandal, criminal prosecutions, civil lawsuits, scathing editorials and outraged parishioners.
Bishop Paprocki, stop being thin-skinned. Start being warm-hearted. Take off your lawyer hat. Put on your shepherd’s hat. Quit being whiny. Start being compassionate. Use your skills, smarts and vast diocesan resources to seek out and help that one struggling, traumatized man or woman who was assaulted years ago by a pedophile priest, and be the bishop you were meant to be.
(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)