Clergy sex abuse victims are blasting Kansas City’s controversial Bishop Robert Finn for “staying silent” about the recent death of an alleged predator priest who has been sued several times for molesting kids.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says Finn should have “honored his pledge to be ‘open’ about clergy sex crimes” by notifying the public and his parishioners about Fr. John R. Tulipana, who apparently died last week.
“As best we can tell, there’s nothing on diocesan or church websites about Fr. Tulipana’s passing,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “Yet just weeks ago, Finn again promised he would be more forthcoming about child sex cases in his diocese. He continues to ‘talk the walk’ while refusing to ‘walk the walk.’”
According to the KC Star, Tulipana worked at eight area churches (six affiliated with schools) from 1976 to 1994, when he resigned after The Star reported that the diocese had paid $150,000 in 1989 to a man who had accused Tulipana of sexually abusing him as a teen.
The most recent lawsuit against Tulipana was filed in February. The first was in the 1980s.
“Being honest about the death of a credibly accused predator priest helps victims heal,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director. “It’s sometimes comforting for victims to learn that their perpetrator can no longer hurt kids. But that doesn’t happen (or happens years later) if the predator’s death is kept secret.”
“Sometimes victims who are trapped in fear, shame and self-blame feel ‘liberated’ when their perpetrator dies,” said Dorris. “They are then more apt to speak up, get help, expose wrongdoing and start healing. But that doesn’t happen - or happens years later - if the predator’s death is kept secret.”
SNAP has repeatedly urged Finn to put notices in his diocesan newspaper and church bulletins encouraging anyone who has witnessed, suspected or been abused by a member of the clergy to contact police and prosecutors, and to remind his flock that they have a civil and moral obligation to report crimes and protect children. But Finn has ignored or rebuffed SNAP’s requests.
“We hope that others who were hurt by Fr. Tulipana will now be able to share their pain and will feel better knowing that his years of sexual assault have ended,” said Clohessy.