For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 10
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A high ranking cleric from a diocese that's one of the most secretive with predator priests has been promoted to head the Albany Catholic diocese. Pope Francis has made another poor choice. While the pontiff has made steps forward on Vatican finances and governance, he has still done virtually nothing substantial to help expose predators, deter enablers, heal victims and prevent future clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
For a decade, Scharfenberger has been heavily involved in pedophile priest cases, in two roles (as “promoter of justice” and as a review board member). Yet we've seen not a single hopeful move in the Brooklyn diocese regarding this scandal. That diocese, like many, does only the absolute bare minimum in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, and only then because it's required to do so by the US church's vague, weak and rarely enforced abuse policy.
Thirty bishops have posted pedophile priests' names on their websites. This is, we believe, a bare minimum public safety step. Brooklyn Catholic officials refuse to do so, even though there are at least 53 Brooklyn priests who have been publicly accused of molesting kids. Equally troubling, Brooklyn Catholic officials put a lawyer in charge of responding to abuse reports, a maneuver which we consider a shrewd and unethical way to try to handle these cases quietly and prevent victims from seeking justice in court.
We have been critical of Bishop Howard Hubbard's recklessness and callousness in chlid sex cases. So we had hoped that his replacement would be someone whose track record in this crisis had been better. But today we are disappointed.
We hope that Bishop Scharfenberger will quickly
– post predators' names on his diocesan website and in parish bulletins,
– begin personally visiting each parish where a pedophile priest worked, begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police, and
– start supporting, not fighting, efforts to reform New York's archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations on child sex crimes.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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)