For immediate release Thursday, December 19, 2013
Yesterday, Archbishop Allen Vigneron’s public relations mouthpiece admitted that three times, a brave victim urged Detroit Catholic officials to take action against the priest who molested her but was still on the job.
The third time, Detroit Catholic officials took action: they offered her therapy.
That is incredibly irresponsible.
Three times, Detroit Catholic officials acted selfishly, callously, recklessly and deceitfully. Three times, they opted to protect a predator priest, and their own reputations and wealth, instead of protecting vulnerable kids.
Shame on every single Detroit archbishop, bishop, priest, defense lawyer and public relations staffer who helped Fr. Harry Walsh stay in ministry around unsuspecting families.
A special shame on archdiocesan public relations man Ned McGrath who told the Detroit Free Press yesterday that he and his church colleagues and supervisors “could have done better to follow up if anything was done” by St. Paul-Minneapolis Catholic officials to address the accusations against Walsh.
That’s baloney. McGrath knows better. But he – like thousands of other corrupt Catholic officials across the world – pretend that their reckless secrecy is somehow a “goof” or a “slip up.” It’s not. It’s part of an ancient, deliberate pattern of protecting the church hierarchy from embarrassment and lawsuits and prosecution, and letting parents and families and kids essentially fend for themselves.
Adding insult to injury, McGrath also said that “Detroit Catholic officials are reviewing their procedures now,” implying that something may be wrong with the formal abuse policies of the archdiocese.
That’s a pathetic dodge. The problem isn’t words on paper. The problem is the callousness of McGrath and his co-workers. They know it’s wrong to stay silent about credible child sex abuse reports. But that’s what they have done for decades and continue to do today.
No newly-tweaked internal, toothless church ‘procedures’ will magically reverse decades of self-serving secrecy.
We hope that anyone who was hurt by Fr. Walsh after 1993 – when the victim told Detroit church officials about Fr. Walsh’s abuse (allegedly the first time Detroit officials got such a report) – will sue the Detroit archdiocese. We hope that lawsuit goes to trial, so that the cold-hearted actions by top Catholic officials will be laid bare to parishioners, parents and the public. And we hope a jury punishes those officials with a huge award to the victim. Tragically, that may be the only way to forced Detroit archdiocesan officials to act with a modicum of decency regarding the safety of kids in the future.
We also hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes or wrongdoing by Fr. Walsh or any of the other 65 publicly accused Detroit area Catholic clerics (see BishopAccountability.org) – will come forward, call police, expose criminals, protect others and start healing.