Victims want bishop's help
"Warn flock about predator," they plead
And kick him out of your diocese, group says
Kentucky priest is accused of molesting 4 kids
Yet he is not being supervised and still does "ministry"
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will urge Lexington’s Catholic bishop to
--warn his flock about a predator priest,
--personally visit nearby parishes this weekend,
--aggressively seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered the cleric’s crimes, and
--pressure other Catholic officials to put the pedophile in a secure treatment facility.
Friday, May 10, at 11:00 a.m.
Two members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Cincinnati man who heads the organization’s Ohio chapter
Outside the Lexington Catholic diocese headquarters, 1310 W. Main St. (corner of Forbes) in Lexington
Late last month, the Chicago Tribune reported that a Chicago area priest, suspended for sexually abusing Illinois boys, still lives and works - unsupervised - in a remote area of eastern Kentucky. The cleric – Fr. Carroll Howlin – has also molested two Kentucky boys, one of whom committed suicide.
In 2002, Howlin, then 67, pastored Good Shepherd Chapel in Whitley City in McCreary County. He was put on administrative leave when abuse reports against him surfaced that year, according to a statement yesterday from the Catholic Diocese of Lexington. (One man says he reported Fr. Howlin’s crimes to Catholic officials in 1993, however.)
Despite his suspension, however, the Tribune reports that Howlin’s supervisors in both the Lexington and the Joliet Catholic diocese have basically ignored him. The Vatican has reportedly “sentenced” Fr. Howlin to a lifetime of "prayer and penance" and banned him from unsupervised contact with minor. But the Tribune found that “he serves as his own minder here in rural Kentucky. The choice of whether to follow the Vatican's restrictions involving ministry or being alone with children remains entirely up to him.”
And Joliet Catholic officials let their parishes collect money for Howlin’s alleged “ministry” to the poor (even after a Joliet pastor warned church officials that Fr. Howlin was putting church donations in his personal bank account). Fr. Howlin, according to the Tribune, allegedly used money to garner sexual favors from impoverished boys. (Fr. Howlin gets a $1,100/month pension.)
So in theory and in public, SNAP says, Catholic officials have purportedly ordered Fr. Howlin to stay away from kids. In reality, the Tribune article reveals, they’re doing nothing to make sure this happens.
SNAP believes Fr. Howlin should be put in a remote, independent treatment center far from Kentucky and Illinois.
SNAP suspects that there may be more victims of Fr. Howlin who are “trapped in silence, shame and self blame.” SNAP also worries that there are more predator priests living in other dioceses - perhaps dozens of them – who are, like Fr. Howlin, not monitored or supervise and live/work among families who are unaware of the danger they present. (According to BishopAccountability.org, eight Lexington diocesan priests are proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesters.)
SNAP wants Lexington’s Bishop Ronald William Gainer to disclose where other pedophile priests are living and move them to secure sex offender treatment and housing facilities.
SNAP also wants Bishop Gainer to aggressively reach out – using parish bulletins, diocesan website, pulpit announcements and personal visits - to anyone who saw, suspects, or suffered crimes by Fr. Howlin (or any other Catholic official) to come forward and report to police.
Gainer should, SNAP says, go to every parish where Fr. Howlin worked (and/or every parish nearby), begging victims to come forward. He should give every shred of paper he has about Fr. Howlin to law enforcement, in Illinois and Kentucky, SNAP asserts.
Fr. Howlin, while officially on temporary suspension, remains a priest on the Joliet diocese payroll.
When Fr. Howlin was suspended, he declined to comment but denounced news coverage of the church sex abuse and cover up scandal.
The Tribune based its article on thousands of pages of long-secret church records recently disclosed thanks to civil child sex abuse lawsuits in the Joliet Diocese.
SNAP is an independent, Chicago-based non-profit self-help group for those molested in institutional settings, whether secular or religious. It’s been around since 1988 and has 12,000 members worldwide.