NY--Victims blast Brooklyn bishop's "healing mass"
For immediate release: Wednesday, April 8
Brooklyn diocesan officials have scheduled a “healing mass” for abuse victims. At worst, this is a cynical public relations move. At best, it misses the mark. (See details below.)
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio's focus should be on real reforms that actually make kids safer, not symbolic gestures that make him seem nicer or that make a few adults temporarily feel better. And events like this imply that the crisis is past when in fact it’s not. By focusing on “healing,” DiMarzio wants us all to believe that prevention is no longer needed. That’s backwards. Only when every cleric who has committed or concealed child sex crimes are identified, punished and kept away from kids should bishops concentrate on healing.
DiMarzio’s first job should be protecting the vulnerable. And much remains to be done on this front.
He should discipline – publicly and harshly - those who hid or ignored clergy sex crimes, to deter such irresponsible behavior in the first place.
He should support – not oppose – reforming New York's secular child safety laws, especially the archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations.
He should house – in remote, secure, independent treatment centers – every proven, admitted or suspended and credibly accused child molesting cleric, so that kids will be safer.
We could go on and on and on.
Quite frankly, adults can heal themselves, with or without action by DiMarzio. (It certainly helps when church officials provide therapy to victims of course.) But kids need bishops to take strong action to protect them from child molesting clerics.
Consider the continuing reckless secrecy and delays in the case of Fr.
We challenge DiMarzio to take practical steps to safeguard the vulnerable, including:
--aggressively reaching out to everyone who may have come in contact with Fr. Augusto Cortez, who worked in Brooklyn and abused a 12 year old child in 2008. According to news reports, after being arrested Cortez was released and has now disappeared.
DiMarzio should visit every Brooklyn site where Fr. Cortez worked and beg anyone with information about Fr. Cortez to come forward and report what they know. He should use his websites, mailing lists, and bulletin boards to warn people about Fr. Cortez.
(DiMarzio will no doubt split hairs and claim he has no responsibility for Fr. Cortez since the priest belongs to a Catholic religious order known as the Vincentians. But the Vincentians work in his diocese with his permission. DiMarzio is responsible for the safety and well-being of his flock. He must aggressively try to find others with knowledge or suspicions about Cortez' crimes.)
--- Do the same regarding Fr. William Authenrieth who is originally from the Diocese of Brooklyn, abused in New York and Florida, now lives in Massachusetts, and was sued again last year.
DiMarzio, and his colleagues in Massachusetts, should warn the public and their parishioners about Fr. Authenrieth, who has been accused of or sued for child sex crimes at least five times. Since Fr. Authenrieth was recruited, ordained, and trained in Brooklyn (before he was transferred to Orlando), Brooklyn Catholic officials should at least warn unsuspecting families about him.
Some might argue that, given his age (about 80), Fr. Authenrieth isn't likely assaulting children now. They would be wrong.
It takes only seconds for a man to shove his hands down a boy's pants or his tongue down a girl's throat. And who would parents or kids trust more than an elderly, balding, stoop-shouldered, grandfatherly-looking figure?
It's irresponsible for anyone to assume that because a child molester is older, he's somehow safer.
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Authenrieth, Fr. Cortez, or other Brooklyn diocesan priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and other church employees to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing.
But DiMarzio should be doing this. And he should have started years ago.
Again, we encourage anyone who saw, suspects, or suffered child sex clergy sex crimes or cover ups to immediately come forward, report what you know, and start healing.
This kind of action is what truly safeguards kids, not gestures like “healing” masses.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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.