MT--Next step in MT clergy sex scandal-"real outreach"
Now that Montana citizens and Catholics know the names of child molesting Catholic clerics, real outreach should begin.
We beg every adult who cares about kids to circulate this list far and wide. Adults should ask their loved ones “Did any one of these priests or nuns ever hurt you?” If so, victims should be warmly supported and gently urged to call law enforcement.
Many of the predators are deceased. But it’s possible that one or more current or former church staff might be prosecuted for obstructing justice, evidence tampering, child endangerment, or other charges related to the cover up of these horrific crimes.
And many who were hurt in childhood by these predators are struggling now in isolation, shame, confusion and self-blame. Catholic officials and parishioners should aggressively publicize these names and seek out these victims. Until that happens, as broadly as possible, this scandal will continue to be a festering wound.
Every Montana Catholic pastor should post these names on his parish website and list them in his parish bulletin. Every Montana Catholic institution, including the two dioceses, should do likewise.
It’s often very healing to suffering victims to see that their perpetrator has finally been exposed. Church staff and members should promote real healing by helping to make sure this happens as much as possible.
I personally want to commend Bishop Thomas for agreeing to significant non-monetary terms in this settlement, as well as poring through diocesan records to identify accused offenders which plaintiffs had not.
At the same time, I am deeply saddened by the actions of the Montana judge who significantly reduced the initial settlement liability of insurers, which resulted in an insulting award to many victims. I find it hard to believe that he understood the gravity of harm done and suffered by so many.
Finally, let’s be accurate: Catholic officials did not disclose these names. They were forced to do so, by brave and caring victims who insisted that the truth be disgorged after decades of self-serving secrecy by Montana bishops, priests, nuns, and other church personnel. We commend every single man and woman who found the courage to step forward, seek justice, file lawsuits endure delays and compel still-secretive Catholic officials to do now what they should have done years ago.
And let’s be realistic: Clergy sex crimes and cover ups continue. No one should get complacent. Whenever abuse is seen, suspected or suffered, those involved must summon the strength to call secular authorities, not church bureaucrats.
(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)