Open letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan
Dear Archbishop Dolan;
We are clergy sex abuse victims and supporters. We belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
We are writing to you today in response to the recently revealed situation at Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx. It’s terribly upsetting to learn that a school official has child porn, but it is even more upsetting to find out that officials with the school and with the Marists knew about this for nine months before any action was taken. (We can’t help but wonder if you were informed as well.)
This all occurred despite a decade of promises by Catholic officials to be “open” about child sex crimes.
We know that Brother Lawrence Gordon – who received little more than a slap on the wrist from the legal system – is a Marist and not an archdiocesan priest. But religious orders like the Marists can only operate in an archdiocese with your permission. And it’s your job to watch over your flock and care for all Catholics within your archdiocese. Part of this promise means that you have to keep them safe from any church employee – whether an archdiocesan cleric or a religious order cleric - who could do something wrong.
So we believe you have a moral and civic duty to seek out and help others who may have seen, suspected or suffered Gordon’s crimes.
We aren’t sure when exactly you were told of these allegations. But whether they were months ago or right before Gordon was arrested is irrelevant. You still have a moral obligation to help police and prosecutors see if Gordon – or others at Mt. St. Michael’s – can be prosecuted further for other crimes.
You can do this by urging anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered Gordon’s crimes to come forward and report to police. And you should do this not only at Mt. St. Michael’s, but at any parish where he may have worked or visited during the time he was in the Archdiocese of New York.
It’s disappointing to see this situation happen in New York because it is eerily similar to one in Kansas City, where top Catholic officials kept silent this year about a priest’s child porn photos – hundreds of them – for at least five months. The situation in Kansas City has caused your brother bishop to be brought up on misdemeanor charges in two separate counties. We would hope that you learn from his failures and act more quickly to prevent this from happening to your own flock.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
NYC SNAP Director