For immediate release: Tuesday, Oct. 29 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)
Archbishop John Neinstedt’s new abuse “task force” is a farce. We’ve felt so from the outset. Now it’s clear.
We call on members of that panel to end their complicity in this charade and resign in protest now.
Neinstedt claims his “task force” – headed by Fr. Reginald Whitt, a priest and lawyer who was hand-picked by Neinstedt - will somehow be “independent.” A new letter, however, has already been disproven this claim.
Last week, Neinstedt publicly said:
“The Task Force will have unprecedented authority to examine any and all issues associated with clergy sexual abuse."
And last week, Whitt privately said:
“Access to these files will be within my control and limited only to what is necessary for the task force to be able to make an informed decision.”
So Catholic officials shout “independent move” in public while maintaining control in private.
We have seen the same pattern over and over again in diocese across the country and saw the same pattern at the national church level a decade ago.
In 2002, America’s bishops claimed they adopted a “tough” abuse policy. But as the limelight faded, Vatican officials quietly gutted much of it.
Time and time again, Catholic officials say almost anything to get themselves out of a jam. Then, as public attention begins to wane, they quietly backpedal. And soon it’s “business as usual” again.
The individuals who agreed to lend their reputations to this task force are being inadvertently used as part of a desperate damage control maneuver. We urge them to show courage, quit now, and end their involvement in an inherently flawed and suspect process.
Just to be clear, based on the written words of two top Catholic officials, here’s how this task force works: a priest and lawyer (Whitt) - who was chosen by a Catholic official higher on the food chain (Neinstedt) - will be the sole conduit of information to an abuse panel - whose members were chosen by a Catholic official (Whitt).
And somehow we are to believe this is a sincere process?
In recent weeks, Neinstedt has hastily set up or allegedly “revised” four church abuse bodies.
“It is unclear why the archdiocese has created four separate entities,” Minnesota Public Radio reports.
The reason, however, is clear to us: Neinstedt’s public relations team has convinced him that many will confuse motion with progress. It’s clear that Neinstedt’s PR strategy is simple: change enough job titles, shuffle enough clerics, create enough committees, and many in the flock will conclude that reform has happened.
God Bless America, what’s left of it.