LA- Houma-Thibodaux bishop makes odd claim

LA- Houma-Thibodaux bishop makes odd claim

For immediate release: Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach  Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

In an unusual and troubling twist, a Louisiana bishop paid an alleged child sexual abuse victim even though he doesn't think the accusation is true.

The Lafayette Advocate newspaper quotes a spokesman for Houma-Thibodaux's Bishop Shelton Fabre, as saying even though the diocese has made at least one financial settlement with a man who said he was abused in the 1990s, “there has not been a case that we deemed to be true.”

The paper went on to report that “{Louis} Aguirre said that since the 2002 bishops charter the diocese has not alerted parishioners about allegations against priests because none have been credible.”

Huh?

We strongly suspect – and evidence strongly suggests – that this alleged victim is in fact a legitimate victim. But why on earth would Bishop Fabre give money to someone he thinks is besmirching a priest's reputation by making up a story?

He owes Houma-Thibodaux parents, parishioners and the public an explanation, especially in light of his repeated pledges to be “open and transparent” about predator priests.

Here's what we think is really happening: Bishop Fabre wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to avoid an embarrassing lawsuit by paying off a reported victim. But he wants to protect the accused priest and keep him on the job.

That's immoral. Either the priest is guilty and should be exposed and ousted. Or the accuser is mistaken and Bishop Fabre should say why. (Or, even less likely, the accuser is a scammer, in which case he should be reported to police.)

We're very upset by this duplicitous and dangerous decision. And Catholics should be outraged.

Bishop Fabre's spokesman, Louis Aguirre, also answered disingenuously when asked why the diocese refuses to disclose names of predator priests.

“When we make a settlement ... we have given the alleged victim the pledge of confidentiality,” Aguirre said.

That's a blatant dodge. Protecting the privacy of a crime victim is different than protecting the identity of a criminal. For the sake of public safety, Catholic officials can and should disclose the identity of child molesters and safeguard the confidentiality of child molestation victims.

We hope Bishop Fabre reconsiders his callous and reckless decision to protect predators and endanger kids by his ongoing secrecy. We hope he'll join 30 of his brother bishops in the US who have sided with vulnerable kids and wounded adults by disclosing and posting the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.

We hope that Louisiana parishioners, police, parents and prosecutors tell officials - both secular and religious - for the safety of innocent kids and the healing of suffering victims, these names should be public.

Finally, we hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in the Houma-Thibodeax diocese will call police, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.

(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 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)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

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