For immediate release: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013
Statement by Gail Howard of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (203 644 0387, Pennyq99@aol.com)
We are members of two organizations: a support group called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and a reform group called Voice of the Faithful (VOTF)
We are here to challenge Hartford’s new Catholic Archbishop Leonard Blair to
1) explain his actions during the investigation of a priest who murdered a nun,
2) use his influence to try and get the priest defrocked, and
3) post on the archdiocesan website the names, photos and whereabouts of current and former Hartford area priests, nuns, seminarians and other child molesting clerics.
First, let’s be clear: neither Blair nor his staff have been formally charged with wrongdoing in the case of Fr. Gerald Robinson, who was convicted of brutally murdering Sister Margaret Ann Pahl. But there remain a number of troubling unresolved questions about how Blair and his top aides behaved before and during that investigation.
Initially Bishop Blair’s staff provided police with three pages of documents about Fr. Gerald Robinson, who had long been a suspect in the 1980 slaying of Sr. Margaret Ann Pahl. Believing church officials were withholding records, Toledo police twice executed “no knock” search warrants on Blair’s diocesan offices. They found scores and scores of more documents, some of which implicated Fr. Robinson.
Blair’s lawyers (and the prosecutors) went to court to block the release of what was found. Church officials won. To date, those files have never been released.
To honor the memory of Sr. Pahl and his pledges to be “open and transparent,” we believe Blair should explain his actions – and the actions of other Toledo Catholic officials in the case.
Second, Fr. Robinson has never been defrocked. Despite being arrested in 2004 and convicted in 2006, he remains a priest today. We are disturbed by this. Here again, we believe Blair owes his flock – in Ohio and Connecticut – some explanations.
Allegedly, Catholic officials have “streamlined” the defrocking process. But for some reason, Fr. Robinson’s case languishes. We believe “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” And we’ve seen some (not many) predator priests defrocked in months. We can’t help but suspect that Blair hasn’t done all he can to push this process.
We want Blair to work harder – and enlist his flock’s help - to pressure the Vatican to get Fr. Robinson defrocked.
Third, roughly 30 US bishops have posted many of the proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics in their dioceses on their websites. In Toledo, Blair posted a partial list, largely in response to public pressure. For the safety of kids and the healing of victims, we want him to do so in Hartford too. Making the names of living predators known and accessible helps protect kids. Making the names of deceased predators known and accessible helps heal victims. Bishops have repeatedly pledged to be “open and transparent” about clergy sex crimes. This is the best place to start – by giving parents, parishioners and the public full access to the names, whereabouts and histories of child molesting clerics.
Finally, we also urge Connecticut Catholics and citizens to report known and suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to police and prosecutors, not to church officials. This is sound advice no matter which man heads which diocese. Child sex abuse is a crime. It should be treated like a crime. It should be reported –whether known or suspected – to the independent, experienced and unbiased professionals in law enforcement, not to the often inexperienced and biased employees in Catholic offices.