Today, Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Fort Worth has been promoted to lead the Diocese of Orange County, CA, replacing outgoing Bishop Tod Brown. Neither of these men have been friends to victims; while Brown actively perpetuated cover-ups and allowed abusive priests to remain in ministry, Vann refused to remove abusive priests or to apologize to victims for the cover-ups perpetrated in his diocese.
In 2006, Bishop Vann called a press conference to apologize to abuse victims for their suffering, but refused to acknowledge that cover-ups had gone on or to take steps to ensure that future cover-ups would not take place. Similarly, only last year, repeated his refusal to acknowledge or apologize for cover-ups when a case against Msgr. James Reilly was settled out of court.
In many cases, the covering-up of abuse can be worse than the actual abuse itself, because it allows a predator continued access and chances to turn more innocent kids into victims of sex abuse. The fact that Bishop Vann has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the pain caused by these cover-ups is telling.
It appears that this move, sadly, is garbage-in garbage-out. We would have hoped that the Vatican would have had the sense to promote a cleric that came from a diocese with a cleaner record or who had actually taken steps to oust predators instead of concealing them.
It is important that victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers do not get discouraged or complacent with this news. We urge anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered crimes in either diocese to make a report to secular, not church, authorities. Remaining vigilant will be the best way to protect kids in the Diocese of Orange County.