For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013
We are not encouraged by the appointment of Jackson’s new Catholic bishop. We know little about Joseph R. Kopacz. But he has been named as a defendant in clergy sex abuse suits or been accused of concealing those crimes (see case involving Father Albert M. Liberatore Jr., Father Carlos Urrutigoity, and Father Eric Ensey at BishopAccountability.org)
Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops have won two key battles in courts and the legislature that make it very hard for clergy sex abuse victims to seek justice. So it’s hard to find out what roles men like Kopacz have played in clergy sex cases. We hope he hasn’t protected predators and endangered kids. But we’re not optimistic.
The minute he takes over in Jackson, we urge Bishop-elect Kopacz to immediately confirm the whereabouts of two Jackson child molesting clerics and warn Catholics and citizens in two places about them:
--Brother William Leimbach, a credibly accused child molester whose last known home was in Burrillville, R.I, and
--Fr. Paul Madden, an admitted molester whose last known home was in Peru where he may still be working as a priest.
These predators belong behind bars or in remote treatment centers so they’ll be kept away from kids. We suspect that few who live or work near them know that they have molested kids.
We also urge Bishop-elect Kopacz to immediately start the process of posting on his diocesan website the names, photos, work histories and current whereabouts of every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric who lives or works (or has ever lived or worked) in Mississippi. (Roughly 30 US bishops have taken this inexpensive, non-controversial safety step.)
Remember – this is a diocese whose second-in-command was then-Msgr. Bernard Law, who went on to head the Boston archdiocese and become the “poster child” of corrupt bishops. So we suspect there are still many secrets about clergy sex crimes and cover ups in Jackson that should be disclosed, for the safety of children and the healing of victims.
No matter who is bishop, we urge victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to contact secular officials, not church officials, with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes. The independent professionals in law enforcement, not the self-serving clerics in church offices, should be handling these heinous offenses.