MI - Victims to Cardinal: Keep Your Promises
For immediate release:
Tuesday, March 2, 2004
For more information:
Bill McAlary of SNAP Metro -Detroit (248) 705-3416
David Clohessy of St. Louis MO, National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago IL, President (312) 399 4747 cell
Group Calls For Prompt Action and Real Outreach From Archdiocese
The Detroit chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is calling Archbishop Adam Cardinal Maida to stick to his word regarding abusive clergy.
Maida recently promised that the Church will "do all we can to protect children and young people." His Review Board recently said that accusations of sexual abuse by clergy are being "handled in a timely and sensitive fashion." These promises need to be kept.
Statement by Bill McAlary, spokesman for SNAP Metro Detroit:
The removal of Fr Richard Kelly from Active ministry leaves us with questions that deserve honest answers.
If the Archdiocese knew about accusations of sexual abuse of a minor by Fr Richard Kelly before December 9, 2003, why did they wait until the end of February to remove him from active ministry? All of those weeks, children may have been at risk.
We do not consider waiting several weeks to remove a potential child sexual offender to be "timely and sensitive" behavior. Clearly, there is more that the Archdiocese can do to "protect children and young people."
There is no excuse for not promptly removing from active ministry any priests or church employee accused of sexually abusing a minor. In other areas of society, allegations of sexual assault, abuse or misconduct are, for the most part, taken very seriously. If it is a teacher, a coach, or even a police officer, the accused are promptly suspended pending investigation. Parents should expect nothing less just because the accused is a priest or church employee.
We are calling on Detroit area Catholics to demand more openness and quick action from the Archdiocese of Detroit when dealing with sexual abuse, especially of minors.
Today, we are calling on Detroit Archbishop Adam Cardinal Maida to:
- be open about whether Fr. Richard Kelly and other clergy have been treated in the past for sexual abuse.
- go to parishes where Kelly worked and encourage victims and witnesses to contact police and prosecutors, so that he may be criminally charged,
- explain the troubling delay in Kelly's removal, and
- create a database with the names of ALL clergy and church employees accused of abuse.
The safety of kids should be the number one priority of the Church and the faithful.
We encourage all victims of clergy abuse or abuse by a church employee to report these crimes to the authorities regardless of how long ago they occurred and we invite you to attend local SNAP support group meetings.Finally, we wish to convey our deep symathies to parishioners at St. Thomas a'Becket, which has apparently had two molesters work there. (Fr. Harry Benjamin, who is serving a one-year sentence for abusing a Canton boy from in the 1980s, was the first.) We know all too well the feelings of hurt, confusion and betrayal many of them must feel now.
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.