MI- Allegations against priest deemed credible, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Child sexual abuse allegations against a Michigan priest have been deemed credible by church officials. We are glad they have come to this conclusion and hope they do more than just the bare minimum to ensure the safety of children.
We are also grateful to the brave victims who came forward and reported their abuse. Their actions will help protect other children.
Father James Menapace was reported to have sexually abused boys in the late 1990s in the Diocese of Marquette.
Often times church officials do the bare minimum after allegations are found credible. But church officials train, ordain, hire, and transfer priests; they have an obligation to prevent them from hurting more children even after they are suspended.
Bishop John F. Doerfler should immediately move Fr. Menapace to a remote and secure treatment facility so that he cannot harm any more children. He should tell parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public where Fr. Menapace is now. He should disclose when the abuse report was made. (We fear it's taken weeks or months for Doerfler to act.) And he should disclose whether other accusations against Fr. Menapace have been made in the past.
(We again call on Doerfler – as we did months ago – to warn parents, parishioners and the public about a former Marquette priest, Fr. Benedict Van der Putten, who was defrocked due to credible child sex abuse allegations and who now lives in Hawaii, and to post on the Marquette diocesan website the names, photos and whereabouts of every proven, admitted and credibly accused Catholic child molesting cleric who has ever worked or lived in the diocese. Roughly 30 US bishops have done this. It’s the quickest way to protect kids. We also urge Doerfler to uses his bully pulpit and diocesan resources to aggressively seek out individuals who were hurt by the nine credibly accused predator priests in the diocese.)
We hope anyone who is suffering in silence and self blame will find the courage to speak up, help protect children, 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)