For immediate release: Friday, April 8, 2016
KC Catholic officials keep holding self-serving “healing” events when they should be focused on protecting vulnerable kids, not winning back upset parishioners. (There's one set for April 21.)
Their priorities are backwards.
Such services are nothing more than public relations. They don't protect a single child, expose a single predator, punish a single concealer or deter a single cover up.
Notice the slogan or tag line for this program: "Healing our Parishes Through Emphathy." That's their goal: restoring parishioners faith in church officials. Not stopping abuse. Not helping victims. "Healing parishes."
Instead, Bishop James Johnston should take tangible steps so that the church no longer will need to hold such events. The goal should be no more victims.
For example, 30 US bishops have posted names of predator priests on their websites. That both protects the vulnerable, heals the wounded and deters the cover ups. That’s what Bishop Johnston should do.
Victims can heal from clergy sex crimes with or without bishops' words. Kids, however, cannot protect themselves from predator priests without bishops' actions. Johnston should warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about two priests who molested in Kansas City are still priests now but live out West, unsupervised, among unsuspecting families. They are
--Fr. Thomas Cronin of Nevada, who is reportedly involved with a homeless women's shelter despite a civil lawsuit in Kansas City (now settled) that charges him with sexually violating a young woman.
–-Bishop Joseph Hart of Wyoming who, as a priest in KC, molested at least six boys. (They have sued and those suits have settled.)
Johnston should take immediate steps to alert police, prosecutors, parishioners, parents and the public about Cronin and Hart. These two predator priests could be assaulting kids and young people today. They could be in Kansas City today or this weekend, visiting old parishioners and hurting their kids.
With real outreach by Johnston, Cronin and Hart might even be prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned, sparing others decades of devastating pain.
Presumably, Bishop Robert Finn’s resignation was intended to bring healing to Kansas City Catholics and victims. But wounded adults can heal themselves, with or without action by bishops. Innocent kids and vulnerable adults, however, cannot protect themselves from predators without action by bishops.
Johnston should put announcements in every parish bulletin at the first opportunity, begging those who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Cronin or Hart to step forward and call police.
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling journalists, get justice by calling attorneys, and get comfort 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