We wish Archbishop Buechlein well with his health struggles. At the same time, however, we are glad he’s stepping down -- although we have little confidence that his successors - either the short term or long term ones - will do much to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded in the Indianapolis archdiocese.
Buechlein, like many of his colleagues in the church hierarchy, did the absolute bare minimum regarding child safety. He and his particularly aggressive lawyers worked hard, and successfully, to prevent the truth about the complicity of archdiocesan staffers from ever surfacing in court.
Less than a year ago, Buechlein settled a civil child sex abuse and cover up case involving Indiana’s most prolific predator priest, Fr. Harry Monroe (who continues to live unsupervised now in Tennessee).
One of our leaders, Peter Isely, said at the time:
We continue to be astonished at the callousness of the Indianapolis Catholic archdiocese. Playing 'good cop, bad cop,' the archdiocese feigns concern for this brave victim, while at the same time letting its lawyer 'talk tough.' (Like a hot-headed, petulant teenager who was spoiling for a fistfight that was thwarted, the archbishop's lawyer growls "we coulda beat him.") The truth is that the archbishop settled this case because he's afraid that a trial would show how much top church staff knew of Monroe's horrific crimes and how little they did to stop him or protect others.
The (archbishop’s) claim that this settlement enables the victim to "avoid the emotional distress and expense of a public trial," is bogus. The settlement enables corrupt and complicit church supervisors who ignored and concealed Monroe's felonies to "avoid the emotional distress" of being publicly exposed as irresponsible accomplices.
When Coyne was promoted to Indianapolis, from the scandal-ridden Boston archdiocese where he acted as Cardinal Bernard Law’s mouthpiece, SNAP director David Clohessy said:
It’s irresponsible and callous for the Pope to promote one of disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law's top aides to be a bishop. It's thumbing your nose at the hundreds of men, women, and children who were sexually assaulted by Catholics clergy in Boston and Indianapolis.
A Boston Globe columnist calls Coyne "Law's chief spokesman during the abuse scandal." A mediocre track record with public relations doesn't make for a promising bishop.
As long as the Vatican keeps rewarding tainted clerics with close ties to horrific scandals, the church will keep being tainted with more horrific scandals.
We hope Coyne, or Indianapolis' new archbishop, will at least promptly post on the archdiocesan website the names, whereabouts and work histories of every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric who lives or works (or lived or worked) in the archdiocese. Roughly 26 US bishops have taken this simple public safety step. Buechlein didn’t. We hope Coyne will.
When someone retires, especially with health concerns, it’s safe and tempting to say little or nothing about his or her wrong-doing. That approach may be comfortable for well-intentioned adults. But it’s hurtful to vulnerable kids.
Grown ups have a duty to tell the truth and expose wrongdoing, even at times like this. It’s irresponsible to do otherwise. Keeping quiet about those who enable, ignore or conceal child sex crimes is reckless.
For far too long, too many child molesting clerics have done too much harm to too many children because too many otherwise reasonable adults have stayed silent about wrong-doing, valuing their own comfort over the safety of kids.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)