- Victims want Cardinal to oust colleague
- They demand that Joliet bishop be pushed out
- Prelate heads US Catholic child sex abuse panel
- But he’s putting a suspended predator priest back on the job
- The charges against the priest are “credible,” local church officials admit
- Still, Bishop Conlon restores him to ministry, citing obscure 1917 church policy
- “Dangerous and hurtful betrayal” makes it crucial for George to act, SNAP says
Clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will physically tear up a copy of the US bishops’ child sex abuse policy to protest a decision by Joliet Catholic officials to return a suspended and credibly accused predator priest to ministry. Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, they will also
--demand that Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George lead an effort to oust Joliet’s bishop as head of America’s child sex abuse committee,
--urge Chicago area Catholics to withhold donations to the church until the Joliet bishop is removed and the predator priest is put into a treatment center, and
--disclose new private emails – sent this week by a church staffer – about the Joliet bishop’s decision.
TODAY, Thursday, Sept., 13, at 2 p.m.
Three-five members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
Outside the Chicago Catholic archdiocese HQ (“chancery office”) 835 N. Rush St. (north of Chicago Ave)
The Chicago Tribune and Southtown Star are reporting that Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon is putting a suspended and credibly accused predator priest back on the job this week. Conlon heads the US Conference of Catholic Bishops sex abuse committee. Because his decision is so “reckless, callous, hurtful and hypocritical,” SNAP wants Chicago Cardinal Francis George to mount an effort to get Conlon removed from his committee chairmanship. (George is the immediate past president of the USCCB and Illinois’ highest ranking Catholic official.)
SNAP has obtained and will make public a private email – sent Monday by a Joliet chancery office staffer – showing that Conlon is restoring Fr. Lee Ryan to active ministry. In May 2010, Ryan was removed from St. Edmund’s parish in Watseka, IL after a man reported that he had been abused by Ryan at a Catholic school during the 1970s. The victim was informed later that a Joliet diocesan abuse committee found his accusations were “credible.”
Despite this, and despite a decade-old “one strike” abuse policy and pledge made by America’s prelates, Conlon is putting Ryan back into ministry, a move that SNAP leaders decry as “selfish and dangerous.”
The decision is especially egregious, SNAP says, because Conlon heads the USCCB’s Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. They want him ousted.
A decade ago (in November 2002), under intense pressure, America’s bishops adopted a “Statement of Episcopal Commitment” in which they promised to "fraternally correct" their colleagues who mishandle abuse cases (http://old.usccb.org/bishops/commit.shtml)
SNAP wants Cardinal George to lead the effort to remove Conlon. And they want Conlon to reverse course, keep Ryan out of ministry, and put him in a treatment center so that children will be safer. They also want Conlon to explain his decision making process, and make public his alleged correspondence with Vatican officials who, Conlon claims, are essentially insisting that he put Ryan back on the job.
SNAP is also begging anyone with knowledge or suspicions of Ryan’s crimes or misdeeds to speak up, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing.
Molly Fara, who wrote the email, is the director of the Joliet Diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection (firstname.lastname@example.org 815-722-6606).
In recent years, other proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesting clerics have been restored to ministry in San Diego (Fr. Jose Alexis Davila, 2012), Kansas City (Fr. Michael Tierney, 2011), Los Angeles (Fr. Martin P. O’Loghlen, 2011), Newark (Fr. John Fugee, 2009), Fresno (Fr. Eric Swearingen, 2006), Chicago (Fr. Kenneth Martin, 2003), St. Louis (Fr. Vincent Bryce and Fr. Alex Anderson) and elsewhere.