ND-- Fargo bishop ignores abuse case; Victims respond
For immediate release: Monday, April 18, 2016
The callous comment yesterday by Fargo Bishop John Folda shows that Catholic officials still puts their comfort and careers ahead of kids’ safety.
Folda says his diocese has “no connection with” Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul and would not comment on the convicted cleric, since it “involves a priest outside his diocese,” according to one newspaper.
If no murderer in the Fargo diocese is sentenced to death, will Folda “not comment” on capital punishment? If an abortion facility opens just across the river from Grand Forks, will Folda “not comment” because “his diocese has no connection” with it. If Pope Francis starts ordaining women or insisting that all masses be said in Latin, will Folda “not comment” because the pontiff is “a priest outside his diocese.”
Folda, like nearly all religious figures, often expresses opinions and takes action on matters outside the physical jurisdiction to which he’s tied. The question is not “What are the four boundaries of my diocese?” The question is “What’s the right thing to do?”
We don't for sure but strongly believe that Fr. Jeyapaul was in North Dakota. And we believe it's very likely a victim, witness or whistleblower who could help put Fr. Jeyapaul behind bars again is now in North Dakota.
First, Grand Forks is just an hour away from two of Fr. Jeyapaul’s parishes.
Second, it's the biggest city near each town where Fr. Jeyapaul was assigned.
Third, when he was at meetings at the Crookston HQ, he was a 25 min. drive from Grand Forks.
Fourth, Fr. Jeyapaul very likely went to big, special church events in North Dakota (like a building dedication or ordination) and very likely substituted for an ill or vacationing North Dakota colleague
Fifth, many abuse victims move away from the town where they were abused and many young people move from rural areas to bigger cities.
Finally, let's assume we're wrong and that Fr. Jeyapaul never left Minnesota for a minute. Still North Dakota Catholic church officials and members have the ability - and we believe the duty - to spread the word about him, seek out others he hurt, and help protect the even-more-powerless kids in India from him by helping police and prosecutors here pursue him
"But I didn't bring him here, hide him, or pay him," Folda will likely claim.
Again, we don't know for sure, but we strongly suspect, based on 26 years of experience, that Fr. Jeyapaul DID spend time in the Fargo diocese, and if he did, according to church law and practice, Folda's required to care for his flock.
It takes seconds for a predator for a predator to shove his tongue in a girl’s mouth or his hands in a boy’s pants.
So it’s possible that a North Dakota Catholic child may have been assaulted by Fr. Jeyapaul. And it’s possible that this wounded individual might step forward and get help, if gently prodded by Folda or by his or her pastor in a North Dakota parish.
And the question must be asked “What possible harm could come from Folda helping us seek out others who are suffering because of pedophile priests? What’s Folda afraid of?”
We hope journalists will ask the Folda "SNAP says if you do outreach about Fr. Jeyapaul, you could help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. Do you think they're wrong? And in your heart of hearts, do you really believe if Jesus were in your shoes, he'd sit back, do nothing, split hairs and make excuses?"
No matter what lawmakers or 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 or institutions – especially by Fr. Jeyapaul – 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.