MO--Victims want warnings about priests who now live elsewhere
New bishop should act on two accused clerics
Group says it’s willing to meet with new prelate
But only on one condition: “Take prevention steps 1st”
SNAP to Johnston: “That will be “a sign of good faith”
Victims want warnings about priests who now live elsewhere
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will
--challenge the new head of the Kansas City MO (KC) Catholic diocese to warn others about three accused clerics,
--offer to meet with him, but ONLY if he takes “tangible prevention steps first,” and
--warn KC citizens and Catholics against complacency just because Bishop Robert Finn is gone.
They will also try to hand deliver a letter outlining their concerns to the new bishop.
Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm
Outside the chancery, the KC MO Catholic archdiocesan headquarters 20 West 9th in downtown KC
Two-three-four members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) including a S. Louis man who is the organization's long time director.
1. At least two credibly accused priests who molested in Kansas City MO now live or work out-of-state, unsupervised, among unsuspecting families. SNAP wants the new head of the diocese, Bishop James Johnston, to warn others about them and disclose more information about the allegations against them.
This is the first time SNAP is reaching out to Johnston, who was promoted three weeks ago.
This action is especially warranted, SNAP says, in light of Pope Francis’ recent promises that “abuse cannot be kept secret any longer,” “all responsible will be held accountable," and that church officials will provide "careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected.”
The accused clerics are
–-Bishop Joseph Hart of Wyoming who, as a priest in KC, molested at least six boys. (They have sued and those suits have settled. The most recent one was filed in 2011.)
--Fr. Thomas Cronin of Nevada, who is involved with a homeless women's shelter despite a civil lawsuit in KC (now settled) that charges him with sexually violating a young woman.
SNAP believes that 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 out west today,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “They could be visiting Kansas City, and hurting kids and young people, here this weekend. With real outreach by Bishop Johnston, Cronin and Hart might even be prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned, sparing others decades of devastating pain.”
2. In light of Francis’ pledges, SNAP is challenging Johnston to “avoid symbolism, gestures, apologies and promises,” and instead “take proven steps to safeguard the vulnerable.” If he does, the group may be willing to meet with him, “but not until he shows good faith by taking practical steps to protect the vulnerable.”
For more than a decade, SNAP leaders met with bishops, usually after repeatedly pressuring prelates to sit down with them. But over the past 13 years, the group has rarely met with Catholic officials, because SNAP has found such meetings to be “at best a waste of time and at worst a public relations maneuver by bishops to give parishioners and the public the misguided impression that reform is happening.”
“Catholic officials claim that Bishop Finn’s resignation is intended to bring healing to parishioners and victims,” said Michael Sandridge of SNAP. “But wounded adults can heal themselves, with or without action by bishops. Innocent kids and vulnerable adults, however, cannot protect themselves from predators without firm action by Johnston. That’s why prevention should be Johnston’s top priority.”
Johnston should put announcements in every parish bulletin and on every church website, begging those who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Cronin or Hart to step forward and call police, SNAP says.