OH--Bishop still refuses to talk about defrocked predator
For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 24
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
By his continuing, reckless and selfish secrecy, Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton is helping a defrocked priest and accused serial child predator gain access to more innocent kids and vulnerable adults.
What a tragedy: A man deemed too dangerous to be in a parish can now teach teenagers and young adults, in part because a bishop is too selfish and irresponsible to simply say “these are credible child sex abuse allegations against him.”
And what irony: A defrocked priest and accused serial child predator talks about the child sex abuse allegations against him but his bishop, who has promised to be “open and transparent” about child sex allegations, refuses to talk.
What’s happened, precisely, is this: After several credible allegations of child sexual abuse, Steubenville’s bishop urged the Vatican to defrock Fr. Gary A. Zalenski. Vatican officials finally did so.
What this means, very simply, is this: that Zalenski been deemed by his own supervisors to be too dangerous to be a Catholic priest. He’s been formally and permanently expelled from ministry by the Vatican.
Keep in mind that there’s a great shortage of priests. And Catholic officials are often biased toward priests. They often refuse to defrock even credibly accused child molesting clerics. Usually, it’s only the most egregious offenders who are permanently ousted from the priesthood. So it speaks volumes that Zalenski has been ejected from the priesthood.
But now, Zalenski is teaching at a Belmont College. Steubenville's bishop must do more to protect children from him and explain his own secrecy surrounding the troubling case.
But despite a national and allegedly binding US church abuse policy that mandates "openness and transparency" about clergy sexual abuse, Bishop Monforton:
-- kept the Vatican's decision to oust Zalenski secret for more than a month
-- disclosed it only to his flock, not to the public
-- put a tiny, two sentence notice about it in a church publication and, in an astonishingly callous and deceitful move,
-- makes no mention of why Zalenski has been defrocked, and
-- has just refused more requests from WTOP TV for interviews about Zalenski.
Zalenski is now on the faculty at Belmont College and has access to teenagers. For this reason and others, Bishop Monforton must do more. He should start by simply holding a news conference to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about a credibly accused and permanently ousted predator priest and explaining - clearly and completely why Zalenski was defrocked.
That's what a caring shepherd would do.
At a bare minimum, Monforton should issue a news release with the same goal: to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about a credibly accused and permanently ousted predator priest and explaining - clearly and completely why Zalenski was defrocked.
In his own diocesan newspaper, Monforton admits that the Vatican's defrocking of Zalenski happened on Oct. 30. So why has Monforton been secretive and delayed this news? Every day Catholic officials hide evidence of an accused predator priest's guilt, they help that predator fool unsuspecting families and be near children he can molest.
Unless Monforton "comes clean" and explains that Zalenski is a twice credibly accused child molester, Zalenski will keep finding positions where he has access to and authority over vulnerable children and teenagers.
Finally, it's both tragic and insensitive for Monforton to tell only Catholics that Zalenski can't work as a Catholic priest. It's as Monforton doesn't care at all about the safety and well-being of non-Catholics.
The only decent move would be to warn as many people as possible about Zalenski's crimes. But if for some inexplicable reason Monforton can't bring himself to do that, he should tell the public not the Catholics - about Zalenski's crimes. Because that's where Zalenski is now: among the public, not in a Catholic parish.
It's irresponsible for bishops like Monforton to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train, transfer and protect predators like Zalenski and then when they're finally exposed cut them loose on society with little or no warning.
The Vatican doesn't defrock priests willy-nilly. It's a long process. It's usually not done unless the cleric's crimes are many or very well-documented. So once Rome has defrocked a priest, it's very clear he is in fact guilty of molesting children. More information and documents about Zalenski are posted on this link. http://www.steubenvilletruth.org/Gary_Zalenski_Pg1.html
We beg Monforton to use his vast diocesan resources, parish bulletins, church web sites, and pulpit announcements to protect kids and warn parents about a potentially dangerous child predator.
And we beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Zalenski - or cover ups by Monforton or his colleagues - to speak up, call police, protect others, expose wrongdoers and start healing.
Let’s debunk a couple of Zalenski’s claims.
First, Zalenski was NOT “cleared” by a grand jury. A grand jury declined to prosecute him. There’s a big difference.
Second, the grand jury made no ruling about Beth Rocker’s “credibility.” It essentially said “There’s not enough evidence,” which is sadly common in many child sex abuse cases.
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)
Contact Judy Jones of St. Louis, Midwest Associate Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (636 433 2511, SNAPjudy@gmail.com)