For immediate release: Friday, Oct. 11, 2013
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
The St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese is getting a new assistant bishop, Fr. Andrew H. Cozzens. This isn’t reform.
Catholic bishops and church lawyers are causing this scandal. So this week, the archdiocese is getting an extra bishop and more church lawyers. (The head of the new abuse ‘task force’ is a lawyer, as are several members of the panel. The person Archbishop John Nienstedt picked to pick the ‘task force,’ Fr. Reginald Whitt, is also a lawyer.)
The church faces a clergy sex crime and cover up crisis, and has for decades. As best we can tell, Bishop Cozzens has done virtually nothing in his clerical career to deal with this crisis. So in our desperation to see things improve, let’s not leap to optimistic conclusions that have no basis in reality.
It’s also discouraging that he’s a local guy. If anything can be done internally to expose and punish wrongdoers, it will take a courageous outsider, not a popular insider.
When predator priests are in trouble, bishops often shuffle him elsewhere. And when a complicit bishop is in trouble, often other church staff and titles and offices get shuffled. That’s what’s happening here. So this move in no way represents progress.
Whether Nienstedt brings on more advisors or the Vatican sends more bishops, little will change unless victims speak up, prosecutors act aggressively, and men who commit and conceal child sex crimes are convicted and jailed. The solution is external, not internal. The solution is church officials obeying secular laws, not church officials bringing in more church officials.