KY--SNAP to Archbishop: “’Cooperating’ isn’t enough”
For immediate release: Friday, Aug. 21
Louisville’s archbishop claims he’s ‘cooperating’ with law enforcement in the child porn case involving Fr. Stephen Pohl. That’s not enough.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and his staff must use their vast resources – church websites, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements, across the whole archdiocese - to aggressively seek out victims, witnesses and whistleblowers and actively help police and prosecutors pursue this criminal cleric.
In our experience (26 years), we’ve learned that when a Catholic official claims he’s ‘cooperating’ with secular authorities, that essentially means he’s merely responding to – rather than fighting – subpoenas. That’s not optional. Ignoring subpoenas is illegal.
As president of all US bishops, however, and the head of a particularly scandal-ridden archdiocese, Kurtz, however, can and should do much more than this.
---publicize the names of every church facility where Fr. Pohl worked, even briefly,
---personally visit each of them, begging those with information or suspicions to call police,
---turn over Fr. Pohl’s full personnel file to law enforcement, whether asked to do so or not, and
---ask his flock to seek out former church staff and members who spent time with Fr. Pohl and specifically ask them if they saw, suspected or suffered any crimes or wrongdoing by the priest.
This case brings to mind the horrific Fr. Shawn Ratigan situation in Kansas City Missouri, which ultimately led to the belated resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, the only US bishop ever convicted of withholding evidence and endangering kids. (Fr. Ratigan also took “inappropriate” photos of parishioners’ kids.)
We urge anyone – Catholic or not – to call law enforcement if they have any information that might help prove or disprove these troubling allegations. We especially urge church employees to speak up. It may sound trite, but you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. If you know or suspect anything – however old, small or seemingly insignificant it may seem – you have a moral and civic duty to call secular authorities.
Finally, our hearts ache for St. Margaret Mary parishioners who must wonder whether their son, daughter, niece, nephew or neighbor’s child is one of the kids that Fr. Pohl took “inappropriate” photos of and may have shared with others. We urge these families to prod their church officials to do more to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded and expose the truth.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)