MS--New bishop named; Victims are skeptical
For immediate release: Friday, Dec. 16, 2016
A new bishop is coming to the Biloxi Catholic diocese. Though we know little about him, we’re skeptical that Louis Kihneman will make Mississippi’s kids any safer.
We’re troubled by his involvement in a Corpus Christi child sex abuse and cover up case. He’s accused of essentially ignoring or white-washing a so-called church “investigation” into allegedly improper sexual advances on a child by a deacon who became a priest named Fr. John Feminelli. Kihneman also reportedly swore the alleged victim and his mother to secrecy.
He also comes from Texas, a state with particularly predator-friendly laws that make it very hard for victims to file lawsuits to expose those who commit or conceal child sex crimes. So we know far less about the church’s abuse and cover up scandal in Texas than in many states.
When new bishops take office, many Catholics bend over backwards to give them the benefit of every doubt. We hope that doesn’t happen here. Complacency protects no one. Only vigilance protects the vulnerable. So we hope Mississippians will make Kihneman earn their trust. We hope they’ll be just as cautious with their kids around clergy as they were under Bishop Roger Morin.
One way Kihneman could – and should – quickly earn the trust of police, prosecutors, parents, parishioners and the public: posting on church websites the names of every child molesting cleric who has worked in Mississippi. About 30 bishops have taken this simple step to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. Kihneman should do so too.
(According to BishopAccountability.org, there are seven publicly accused Mississippi predator priests: Fr. Thomas Boyce, Fr. George Broussard, Fr. Bernard Haddican, Fr. James Kircher, Br. William Leimbach, Fr. Paul Madden and Fr. Robert Olivier.)
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, schools or other institutions to protect kids 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)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.