OH--Toledo bishop must do more re just-ousted priest
For immediate release: Monday, Nov. 17
Toledo’s top Catholic official has suspended a priest who reportedly sexually exploited adults. But that’s not enough.
Nowhere in Bishop Daniel E. Thomas’ announcement about Fr. David A. Reinhart does the bishop even mention that others with information or suspicions about Fr. Reinhart’s misconduct should step forward.
Isn’t that telling? In nearly all cases of abuse or exploitation by priests, other victims exist. Yet the shepherd of Toledo’s flock apparently doesn’t want to hear from them.
Bishop Thomas should also give more details about when abuse reports first surfaced against Fr. Reinhart, so parishioners and the public know whether church officials addressed the matter promptly or tried to keep it quiet for weeks or months.
And Thomas should disclose where Fr. Reinhart is now, SNAP says. Since he has not yet been defrocked, church law and practice dictates that Thomas must keep paying Fr. Reinhart, the group asserts, so Thomas knows where Fr. Reinhart is now and should make that information public.
In 17 states, it's illegal for any clergy to have any sexual contact with congregants (adults or children). So it may be possible for Fr. Reinhart to be criminally prosecuted. If not, it’s possible that other Catholic employees might be prosecuted on charges of witness tampering, destruction of evidence, intimidation of victims, obstruction of justice, etc. Is this what Thomas fears? Is this why he’s not urging others who were hurt by Fr. Reinhart to call police?
Regardless, Thomas should beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered misconduct by Fr. Reinhart to contact law enforcement, using parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements. This isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense and common decency. Why, after decades of horrific clergy sexual abuse and misconduct by priests and continuing cover ups by bishops, do we have to prod Catholic officials to do even the most simple outreach to others who may be suffering in shame, silence and self-blame?
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 18,000 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)