For immediate release: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Vermont Catholic Bishop Salvatore Matano has been promoted to head the Rochester diocese. We’re disappointed that Pope Francis has promoted a bureaucrat with a terrible record on children’s safety.
In 2006, Matano’s diocese was one of just two in America to have been found in violation of the US bishops weak and vague national abuse policy because Matano refused to ensure that adequate abuse prevention training was provided to all his staff, as the policy requires.
For eight years, he refused to list Vermont’s predator priests on his website or house and supervise them, two simple, proven abuse prevention steps that we asked him to take.
Matano’s also been accused of financial misdeeds. In 2009, two lawsuits – by 27 alleged victims – were filed charging that Matano “transferred assets into separate entities to make it harder for victims of priest sexual abuse who have sued the church to collect monetary damages in their cases,” according to the Burlington VT Free Press. The newspaper noted that in 2006, “the diocese transferred $3,819,000 to a church pension fund and another $3,704,000 was placed in a newly created trust for Vermont Catholic Charities.”
Matano has not just refused to adequately protect kids. He’s also rubbed salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of suffering adults. Even after one victim – who was molested by a known, serial predator priest - endured a difficult trial and won, Matano appealed the verdict to the Vermont Supreme Court. (The bishop claimed that no non-profit should ever be hit with punitive damages - no matter how many innocent kids were hurt, no matter how severe or preventable the harm was and no matter how reckless, callous or deceitful the institution’s officials may have been.)
After a child sex abuse and cover up trial, a Vermont jury awarded nearly $3.6 million to 43-year-old former Burlington altar boy David Navari. Months later, in 2009, here’s what the Rutland VT Herald wrote:
“Navari, for his part, offered to place his court award in a Catholic-school trust if the diocese would defrock all priests credibly accused of child molestation, terminate their retirement benefits and post their names and photos on its Web site.
Three months later, the diocese has yet to contact Navari or other plaintiffs about a possible settlement.
“They’ve never responded in any way to his offer,” (Burlington attorney Jerome) O’Neill says. “No contact, not a word nothing has changed.”
Even before coming to Vermont, Matano’s track record with predator priests was problematic:
Some praise Matano as a solid manager. Maybe he is. That’s a wonderful attribute for a CEO.
But at least 100,000 US girls and boys have been sexually assaulted by at least 7,000 Catholic priests in part because the church hierarchy is dominated by self-serving men who tried – and still try – to “manage” this crisis, instead of prevent and expose it.