MN--Victims blast bishop over abuse remarks
For immediate release: Friday, June 3, 2016
Winona’s bishop has callously rubbed salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of abuse victims by deliberately and disingenuously minimizing the pain and vulnerability of a teenaged girl who was repeatedly abused by a priest who was counseling her.
Bishop John Quinn (email@example.com) wrote that “Monsignor Richard Colletti’s resignation stems from recent media reports involving accusations of sexual misconduct with an adult female that dates back to 1986.”
First, Quinn uses the word “misconduct,” a deliberately vague word that minimizes the horror of what Colletti did. A powerful, well-educated priest abused his position, authority and trust by sexually manipulating, abusing and exploiting a devout teenaged girl who sought counseling because she was already suffering. She’d been raised since birth to consider priests holy, trustworthy, celibate men who could forgive her sins and get her into heaven. So Colletti’s actions were abusive and devastating.
Texting during a movie or being loud in a restaurant is “misconduct.” What Colletti did borders on criminal. And when powerful men like Catholic bishops insult victims and deceive parishioners when they put self-serving spin on this kind of horror. Shame on Quinn.
Second, the phrase “dates back to 1986” is essentially another way to minimize the monsignor’s wrongdoing. Quinn implies that since the devastating betrayal happened some years ago, it’s somehow less wrong or hurtful.
Third, Quinn implies that the “gag order” in this case was mutual. In only the most narrow, technical sense could this be true. For decades, Catholic officials insisted on such secrecy before they provided any real help to victims. We strongly suspect that Quinn’s predecessor demanded this gag order and a desperate, wounded and perhaps even suicidal victim felt she had no choice but to sign it.
Quinn should be more forthcoming about his troubling case. (Does he really think this victim will sue him if he ‘comes clean’ and admits which church officials covered up for one of their abusive colleagues?) Quinn should also disclose Colletti’s whereabouts and should aggressively prod others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or manipulations by the ex-chancellor to call law enforcement, using church bulletins, parish websites and pulpit announcements. Quinn should also personally visit each parish where Colletti worked, begging those with information or suspicions about clergy wrongdoing to call independent sources of help, not church officials.
Finally, we applaud this brave teenager for reporting the serious abuse and betrayal she experienced and for seeking justice in court. We believe others were spared horrific pain because of her courage and wisdom. We hope she’s doing well now. Catholics and parents in Minnesota should feel nothing but gratitude and admiration towards her.
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes, adult sexual exploitation, and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect innocent kids and vulnerable adults by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(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)