For immediate release: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Victims blast controversial speakers
SNAP objects to three prelates being honored
Each one, group says, concealed clergy sex crimes
In one case, three Catholic organizations also objected
And in that case, retired NYC Cardinal won't attend event
Two top church officials should discourage such invitations, SNAP says
Three times last week, a victims' group raised concerns about Catholic prelates who allegedly concealed child sex crimes speaking at church events, and one of those appearances was cancelled. Now the group is asking the head of the US bishops' conference to urge his colleagues to avoid similar controversies.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Joliet Bishop Daniel Conlon about public appearances by bishops who “protected predators and endangered kids.” Kurtz is the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Conlon heads the conference's sex abuse committee.
SNAP recently objected to these prelates:
--Retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan was to preside over a children's choir mass at St. Ignatius Loyola parish in Manhattan this month.
The parish had announced the event on its website. But last Friday, the parish announced that Egan would not be coming. http://www.stignatiusloyola.org/
--Retired Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Rigali, who is to be a featured speaker at the Catholic Men Servant Leaders annual conference at Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Kentucky on March 22.
--Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez-Maradiaga, who spoke last week at the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles.
“One reason bishops keep hiding clergy child sex crimes is because they never experience any consequences for it,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “”Wrongdoers like these disgraced prelates keep getting praised and promoted, instead of being denounced and demoted. These extreme, insensitive and callous clerics simply should not be invited into Catholic settings.”
“Honoring men like Egan, Rigali and Maradiaga rubs salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of thousands of suffering victims and millions of betrayed parishioners” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “These actions show that many bishops still put their needs and wishes and the comfort of their friends ahead of the pain of victims and Catholics.”
“Will we soon start seeing prelates honoring and inviting convicted Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn to speak?” Dorris asked.
Leaders of the National Survivor Advocate Coalition and Voice of the Faithful - both the national group and its Bridgeport chapter – joined SNAP last week in expressing disapproval of Egan's appearance.
“Egan's visit sends the wrong message and hurts already suffering victims and betrayed Catholics,” said Jamie Dance (email@example.com, 203-801-9532) who heads the Bridgeport chapter of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF). “It encourages future cover ups by saying ‘no matter how much you put children in harm's way, you can still be rewarded.”
"Retired Cardinals should have a lot of time to think. We think Cardinal Egan should think about what he can do to end the crisis not add to it,” said Kristine Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org, 937 272 0308), who chairs the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC). “How about Cardinal Dolan invite Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to say this Mass? At least, he tried to cast out the snakes of sexual abuse instead of whitewash it. It would be a far better St. Patrick's Day message for these young people than honoring Egan would. "
“New York Catholics deserve to know who played roles in planning and in cancelling Egan's appearance,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “But we doubt that even one church official - Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Egan, the local Jesuit provincial or St. Ignatius staffers – will break the deeply-rooted culture of secrecy in the church around child sex crimes, cover-ups and controversies to share this information.”
“We hope the Egan cancellation will deter other managers – inside and outside the Catholic church – from concealing heinous child sex crimes in the future,” said Clohessy.
“We understand the Kurtz and Conlon can't order their colleagues to avoid inviting complicit church officials,” he said. “But they can write to and plead with their brother bishops to show some courage, compassion and common sense and avoid exacerbating already widespread pain.”
A copy of SNAP's letter to Kurtz, sent today by fax and email, is below:
(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 25 years and have more than 15,000 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)
March 20, 2014
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz
Archdiocese of Louisville
212 East College Street
Louisville, Ky 40203
Fax: (502) 585-2466
Dear Archbishop Kurtz:
We are members of a sexual abuse support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and we are asking you to use your influence, bully pulpit and office to help stop Catholic officials who have handled clergy sex abuse and cover ups irresponsibly from being honored or allowed to speak at church events.
As the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, you have the authority to urge your brother bishops to prevent this hurtful and dangers action. Just last week, we raised concerns about three Catholic prelates who concealed child sex crimes speaking at church events.
It sends a dangerous message when those who endangered kids and hid crimes are publicly praised or invited to speak at Catholic events. It says that “no matter how much you endanger children you won't be punished, in fact, you will be honored.”
Imagine how victims, their families and friends feel when they find out about events honoring disgraced Catholic officials. Imagine how church employees who are concealing known and suspected child sex crimes feel when they see these disgraced Catholic officials receiving honors and opportunities. We strongly suspect they'll continue hiding such crimes when they see that even the most egregious wrongdoers continue to enjoy exalted status and fine reputations in the church.
And imagine how they will feel when they realize that you could have done something but instead did nothing.
You can try to stop this. You can try to spare others more pain. If you try, you may even succeed.
This isn’t rocket science. It’s simple compassion. It’s simple justice. And it’s simple abuse prevention.
So we are asking you to take three steps:
-- publicly denounce any event honoring disgraced Catholic officials,
-- strongly urge your brother bishops do the same, and
-- write your colleagues and do all you can to prevent similar events supporting those accused of committing child sex crimes or cover-ups.
Again, we urge you to at least publicly denounce this kind of incredibly insensitive and intimidating behavior.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
David Clohessy, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)