MT - Victims want action about ousted priest

MT - Victims want action about ousted priest

  • Victims want action about ousted priest
  • Catholic bishop has been silent for 6 months
  • Cleric was ousted in July due to credible allegation
  • But church officials do virtually no outreach, group says
  • And they want all Montana parish staff to come clean about cover ups

WHAT

Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will urge the Great Falls/Billings Catholic bishop to

--do outreach to find others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by a recently accused priest, and

--permanently post on his website the names, photos and whereabouts of all child molesting clerics who live or work (or have lived or worked) in his diocese.

They will also urge ALL current and former Montana Catholic employees to clean about clergy sex crimes and cover ups by sharing everything they know and suspect with law enforcement officials (instead of assuming and hoping that the church hierarchy will handle such cases quietly and house.)

WHEN

Thursday, Dec. 6th at 11:00 a.m.

WHERE

In front of St. Patrick's Co-Cathedral 215 North 31st Street (corner of 3rd. Ave. N,) in Billings, MT

WHO

Two to three members of an international support group for victims of clergy abuse called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

WHY

Fr. Dennis Druggan was suspended in July because of allegations that he molested a child at St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, MT in the mid-1980s. But SNAP contends that the Great Falls-Billings Catholic diocese, and especially Bishop Michael Warfel has done little or nothing to tell his flock about the allegations, help police or prosecutors pursue Druggan or find and help others who may have been hurt by him or have information about his crimes. (Druggan has denied the allegations.)

For a decade now, bishops have pledged to be “open and transparent” in clergy sex cases. And Pope Benedict has said that the church will “do everything possible” to help victims heal. So SNAP believes that Warfel has both a moral and civic duty to use his “vast resources” to try and find others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Druggan.

SNAP predicts that Warfel will try to dodge responsibility for Druggan because he belongs to a religious order called the Capuchins. The Capuchins worked in Montana with the permission of the local bishop. And according to church teaching and practice, a bishop is responsible for the safety and well-being of every Catholic in his diocese.

It doesn’t matter who signs the paycheck of a pedophile priest, said David Clohessy, SNAP Director. If he spent time in Warfelâ’s diocese, Warfel has an obligation to try to help, not sit silently on the sidelines.

When Druggan was accused this summer, he was head of St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin. He has been suspended from that post. Druggan worked at St. Lawrence since 1993.

He worked at St. Labre Indian School in Montana from 1984-1991.

Due to the statute of limitations in Montana, charges against Fr. Druggan will apparently not be investigated. SNAP says this situation is an example of why these archaic, predator friendly laws need reform. And it means that the bishop’s responsibility to do outreach is even greater, the group says.

SNAP also wants Warfel to permanently post on his website and in parish bulletins - the names, photos and whereabouts of all child molesting clerics who live or work (or have lived or worked) in his diocese. The group feels that this is the quickest, simplest and easiest way to protect children.

Roughly 30 US bishops have posted the names of their predator priests, usually after considerable public pressure.

In 2002, Tucson and Baltimore became the first US dioceses to disclose predators names. More recently, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has created a database on its website which includes priests with credible child sex abuse accusations against them. (A full list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names is available here: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm)

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2012/07_08/2012_07_16_FondduLacReporter_StLawrence.htm

A photo of Druggan is available at http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2012/07_08/2012_07_16_FondduLacReporter_StLawrence.htm

The Great Falls/Billings diocesan staffers in charge of abuse are Scott Westphal (406 727 6683, ext. 112, scott@dioceseofgfb.org ) and Laurie Horton (406 727 6683, ext. 110, lhorton@dioceseofgfb.org)

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