IN--Abuse victims challenge newly-elected bishop
For immediate release: Monday, Dec. 19, 2016
Indiana bishop wins bid for national office
Victims challenge him to “do more to protect kids”
Last month, a top Indiana Catholic official won his bid to head a national church sex abuse panel. Now, a victims group that supported him is urging him to “do more to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded and expose the truth about clergy who commit and conceal child sex crimes.”
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, backed Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette over Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima for the chairmanship of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. Doherty won that election.
“Doherty is taking over a committee that’s done very little for a very long time. We hope he’ll take immediate, concrete steps to safeguard kids,” said David Clohessy of SNAP.
SNAP is calling on Bishop Doherty to take two immediate steps.
“First, he should post names of predator priests on his church websites. This is the quickest and easiest way any Catholic prelate can protect kids right now,” said Judy Jones of SNAP. “As head of the “child protection” committee, it’s crucial that Doherty lead by example.”
Roughly 30 US bishops have taken “this simple, proven, inexpensive safety measure,” SNAP says (starting with Tucson and Baltimore dioceses in 2002). The Philadelphia archdiocese posts the names, photos and work histories of predator priests.
“Second, he should mount an aggressive campaign to persuade his colleagues to post their own lists of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics,” Jones said.
“By their own admission, some 7,000 US priests are accused of molesting girls and boys. Some are dead. A few are behind bars. But most, we are convinced, are living and working among unsuspecting neighbors and colleagues,” Clohessy said. “Most get little or no supervision or monitoring. Those who are monitored, we believe, are not monitored well.”
“Why are so many child molesting clerics not in prison?” Jones asked. “Because Catholic bishops hid their crimes until the statute of limitations expired and they could not be prosecuted.”
“Catholic bishops recruited, educated, ordained, hired, trained, transferred and protected most of these pedophile priests. And by stonewalling police, deceiving prosecutors, intimidating victims, threatening whistleblowers, discrediting witnesses, fabricating alibis, destroying evidence and exploiting legal loopholes, Catholic bishops prevented the prosecution of these predator priests,” she said.
So now, the SNAP leader believes, “the absolute least Catholic bishops can do is to post the names of their child molesting clerics on parish and diocesan websites so that parents, parishioners and the public can be warned about these dangerous clerics.”
“We hope Doherty shows - by his actions, not his words – that he takes his new post seriously and will lead courageously,” Clohessy said.
Last month, SNAP wrote Tyson asking him to abandon his race for the post. The group stresses that it knows little about Doherty but believes he’s likely “a tad better” than Tyson “when it comes to protecting the vulnerable and healing the wounded.”
“Frankly, we don’t know a ton about Doherty, in part because Indiana has a predator-friendly statute of limitations that helps keep child sex crimes and cover ups covered up,” said Clohessy. “But Tyson’s a terrible choice.”
In 2013, Doherty held a meeting with parishioners whose pastor, Fr. Patrick R. Click, was accused of abuse.
SNAP says Tyson has “done virtually nothing to undo the damage that your predecessor did when he protected clergy who abused children,” nor done anything “above the legally required bare minimum, to safeguard kids.”
“It’s not necessarily that we’re convinced Doherty is much or even any better than his competition,” explained Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “But he may be a tad more amenable to reform that Tyson, who has clearly ignored or concealed clergy sex crimes.”
Regardless of the election results, the organization is urging Doherty to “aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes” by Charles “Chuck” Cichanowicz, a former Franciscan priest who worked recently (or may still work) at a counseling center in Lafayette despite facing several child sex abuse lawsuits in New Mexico.
According to an independent research and archive group called BishopAccountability.org, there are eight publicly accused Lafayette diocesan priests: Fr. Kenneth Bohlinger, Fr. Donald Eder, Fr. James Grear, Fr. Robert E. Moran, Fr. Arthur A. Sego, Fr. Donald Tracey, Fr. Ronald J. Voss and Fr. Raymond H. Wieber.