For immediate release: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013
David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Two credible and knowledgeable Philadelphia Catholics – including noted blogger Susan Matthews - report that they’ve heard rumors that Archbishop Charles Chaput may disclose this weekend the fates of some alleged predator priests by making announcements at some parishes. WE DO NOT KNOW IF THIS IS ACCURATE OR NOT.
It’s about time. Victims, their families and Philly Catholics have waited far too long for some clarity from church officials about these accused child molesters. Whenever Chaput makes this announcement, we suspect he won’t be completely forthcoming about key details.
If this is true, it’s another sign of Chaput’s irresponsible secrecy.
When Chaput’s hand-picked panel makes a decision about an accused priest, he should disclose it immediately. To wait is to be unfair to everyone involved. Worse, to wait is often to endanger kids.
There’s only one reason to delay and to lump multiple accused predator priests together for one big announcement. That reason is public relations. Chaput simply wants to try and make sure there’s just one story about child molesting clerics, not several stories.
And he wants to put his “spin” on these cases with his flock first, before they hear unbiased accounts from impartial media outlets.
Chaput’s smart. So are his legal defense team and his public relations team. And he’s had tons of experienced in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, in Colorado and Philly. He has done this before. He knows that the less public attention there is on these heinous crimes and cover ups, the better able he’ll be to keep these crimes hidden.
But while he and his colleagues benefit from this strategy, Philly Catholics and citizens do not. Their kids are kept at risk every day Chaput selfishly
Chaput’s strategy also hurts law enforcement. Police and prosecutors have huge workloads and must prioritize. When they learn that a predator priest has admitted to his supervisors that he’s a molester, law enforcement sometimes moves more quickly to investigate him. The same is true when law enforcement learns that Catholic officials have deemed an accused predator priest becomes a “credibly accused” predator priest.
Ms. Matthews is right: “All Catholics and Philadelphia-area residents are affected by clergy child sex abuse.” So it’s irresponsible if Chaput announces the fates of these credibly accused clerics only at parishes where they have worked. He promised to be “open” about these cases. The US bishops’ abuse policy allegedly mandates “openness” in these cases. So Chaput should honor both the letter and spirit of that policy – and of his promises - by being truly open with everyone in the Philly area about these accused sex offenders.
(There have been plenty of cases in which Catholic priests, nuns, brothers, seminarians and bishops have sexually violated non-Catholics. And most clergy sex abuse victims don’t attend Catholic churches, or at least don’t attend the church where they were assaulted. So making announcements in a few churches is irresponsible.)
So let’s hope the rumor is correct. Let’s hope Chaput stops delaying and starts disclosing. And let’s hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Philly area Catholic clerics – or cover ups by Philly area Catholic officials – will step up, get justice, expose wrongdoers, call police, protect kids and start healing.
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell,SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)
It’s a work in progress so visit it often and pass the address forward. It’s not fair that the the Philadelphia Archdiocese should be the only cesspool in the commonwealth of PA.