MI--SNAP: Kalamazoo bishop makes more hurtful remarks
For immediate release: Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016
Lest anyone feel too positive about Archbishop John Nienstedt’s leaving Michigan, let us make a sad, simple point: It should not take outrage by parents, parishioners and the public to get a Catholic official who’s credibly accused of committing and concealing clergy sexual misdeeds and crimes out of ministry.
Catholic officials in Michigan and Minnesota continue to ignore the fact that six or eight or ten seminarians have accused Nienstedt of “unwanted sexual advances” against them. One reports that he faced retaliation for rejecting Nienstedt’s inappropriate and hurtful sexual moves. Several have apparently filed formal affidavits detailing their suffering.
In letters today, Kalamazoo Bishop Paul Bradley Bradley (269-903-0153, firstname.lastname@example.org) cites "the emotional reaction" and “the emotional factors" surrounding Nienstedt. Fr. John D. Fleckenstein of Battle Creek (269-903-0227, email@example.com) cites his flock’s supposed “anger” and “fear.”
These are self-serving and hurtful remarks. It’s perfectly legitimate and logical for people to oppose giving credibly accused sexual abusers, or their “enablers,” more positions of power. That’s a rational response, not an irrational one. Parishioners should be praised, not put down.
Bishop Bradley and Fr. Fleckenstein are subtly blaming prudent parishioners for some sort of alleged “mob mentality” when in fact these lay people are simply bring careful with their loved ones, as well they should be. It is disingenuous and insulting for their “shepherds” to claim or suggest otherwise.
And it’s hurtful to the seminarians who Nienstedt tried to sexually exploit when Bishop Bradley asks parishioners to pray for Nienstedt but ignores Nienstedt’s victims.
Fiinally, it’s selfish for Bishop Bradley (269-903-0153, firstname.lastname@example.org), Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, St. Paul Archbishop Bernard Hebda, St. Paul Auxiliary Bishop and Vatican officials to ignore these serious, credible allegations, some of which were made in signed, formal affidavits.
We say it all the time. We’ll say it again now: It’s crucial that people speak up with any information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes, misdeeds or cover ups. That’s how innocent kids and vulnerable adults will be protected. That’s how the truth will be revealed. And that’s how wrongdoing will be deterred.
But it’s important to call independent secular professionals, not self-serving, biased church officials.
NOTE – SNAP president Barbara Blaine issued a statment about this earlier today. It’s on our website.
(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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, email@example.com, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, firstname.lastname@example.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.