IL--Victims to Joliet Catholic officials: “More to be done”
For immediate release: Wednesday, April 15
Statement by Kate Bochte of Chicago, SNAP leader (630 768 1860, email@example.com)
Now that Joliet Catholic officials have settled more child sex abuse and cover up cases – involving five priests, 14 victims and $4.137 million – the question is “What will Joliet’s bishops do now to protect kids from and help other victims of the 39 publicly accused predator priests in this relatively small diocese?”
If bishops refuse to take action, we urge Joliet’s dozens of priests to act.
In particular, we call on Bishop Daniel Conlon and Bishop Joseph M. Siegel to warn families about and protect kids from a four-time predator priest who continues to minister even now. He’s Fr. Carroll Howlin:
But with all 39 of these priests, more outreach should be done and more warnings should be issued. If I knowingly let my unsafe violent dogs loose, one bites you, and I pay you, my obligations don’t end there. I still have a duty to make sure my pets don’t hurt others. Bishops have that duty too. But they rarely take it seriously.
This latest settlement involves one priest who was on the job as recently as 2012. At least two of them showed troubling signs of deviancy in seminary (but were ordained anyway). At least two of them worked outside the diocese, and we suspect that Catholic officials elsewhere have not warned their flocks about those two.
(The five are Fr. Lawrence Gibbs, Fr. James Nowak, Fr. Fred Lenczycki. Fr. Michael Gibbney and Fr. Myles White.)
We commend Steve Janik of Wheaton and the other brave men who reported their suffering and took legal action to expose wrongdoers, get justice, warn others, protect kids, start healing and deter cover ups. We hope this settlement will bring them some sorely-needed and long-overdue comfort and closure.
We encourage them to stay in recovery programs and therapy and continue the painstaking, tough process of rebuilding their lives and restoring their trust. No one event – a conviction, a trial, a settlement, a suspension, a defrocking – can magically erase decades of pain or reverse decades of self-destructive behaviors that plague most child sex abuse victims. So we beg these courageous men to stay focused on their own care and well-being, and not assume that the lingering effects of horrific childhood betrayal will suddenly vanish because this legal struggle has ended.
Finally, we beg every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Joliet to break their silence, get independent help and take steps to safeguard other innocent kids and vulnerable adults from clerics who commit or conceal heinous crimes.
(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)