MO--Victims respond to new KC bishop
For immediate release: Tuesday, Sept. 15
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Newly named Kansas City Bishop James Johnston is no friend of kids or victims. His record on clergy sex crimes and cover ups is disappointing. Pope Francis has made another poor choice.
--Weeks ago, we urged Johnston to reach out to anyone who may have been hurt in Springfield by two predator priest, Fr. Michael Charland and Fr. Thomas Meyer, who’d recently been “outed” as predators in another state, but who had worked or spent time in the Springfield diocese.
(As best we can tell, Johnston ignored our request.)
--Four years ago, we urged Johnston to reach out to anyone who may have been hurt in Springfield by Missouri’s most notorious serial predator priest, Fr. Thomas J. O'Brien, who faces more than two dozen civil lawsuits accusing him of molesting kids. Most of them have been settled. O’Brien has sometimes committed these crimes in concert with other clerics. He has been forbidden to present himself as a priest. And just last week, he was sued again.
(As best we can tell, Johnston ignored our request and did not reply to our letter.)
--Johnston refused to remove a statue of a bishop who admitted molesting one boy.
--He publicly praised that bishop, making no mention of victims, when that prelate passed away.
Thirty bishops have posted pedophile priests' names on their websites. This is, we believe, a bare minimum public safety step. Brooklyn Catholic officials refuse to do so, even though there are at least 53 Brooklyn priests who have been publicly accused of molesting kids. Equally troubling, Brooklyn Catholic officials put a lawyer in charge of responding to abuse reports, a maneuver which we consider a shrewd and unethical way to try to handle these cases quietly and prevent victims from seeking justice in court.
We hope that Johnston will quickly
– post predators' names on his diocesan website and in parish bulletins,
– begin personally visiting each parish where a pedophile priest worked, begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police
And we hope that KC victims, witnesses and whistleblowers will continue to seek help from independent sources – therapists, police, prosecutors, attorneys and support groups like ours – rather than blindly trust Catholic officials.
(NOTE: Springfield Missouri, the diocese where Johnston is now, was once headed by Bishop Bernard Law, later the disgraced head of the Boston archdiocese.)
(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)