For immediate release: Friday, March 21, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Philly archdiocesan officials have scheduled a “healing mass” for tomorrow at Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
At worst, this is a cynical public relations move. At best, it misses the mark.
Chaput's focus should be on real reforms that actually make kids safer, not symbolic gestures that make him seem nicer or that make a few adults temporarily feel better.
Chaput's first job should be protecting the vulnerable. And much remains to be done on this front.
He should discipline – publicly and harshly - those who hid or ignored clergy sex crimes, to deter such irresponsible behavior in the first place.
He should support – not oppose – reforming Pennsylvania' secular child safety laws, especially the archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations.
He should house – in remote, secure, independent treatment centers – every proven, admitted or suspended and credibly accused child molesting cleric, so that kids will be safer.
We could go on and on and on.
Quite frankly, adults can heal themselves, with or without action by Chaput. (It certainly helps when church officials provide therapy to victims of course.) But kids need the archbishop to take strong action to protect them from child molesting clerics.
Consider the continuing reckless secrecy and delays in the case of Fr. John P. Paul, whose status as a credibly accused child molester was finally, disclosed in February.
In October or November of last year (perhaps even earlier), Philly Catholic officials received reports of alleged child sex crimes against Fr. Paul. But church officials apparently kept quiet. On November 6, Fr. Paul resigned, (“He came to that decision of his own accord during the course of the Archdiocesan investigation regarding this alleged abuse,” Chaput claims.)
At the time, Fr. Paul claimed he was “considering a serious road trip for 'renewal' purposes.” Again, Philly church officials apparently kept silent, letting an accused child molester's lie stand.
Finally, in November, Philly church officials admitted, to one parish, that Fr. Paul was suspended for credible allegations of child sex abuse crimes. Weeks later, Philly church officials told the public and the rest of their flock that Fr. Paul was suspended for credible allegations of child sex abuse crimes.
Shame on Chaput for not explaining why he 1) kept child sex abuse allegations secret for months, 2) let one of his priests lie to his flock, 3) telling only one parish about Fr. Paul first, and 4) waiting until several months later to tell the public about Fr. Paul.
When it comes to “job one” - the safety of kids - Chaput is moving backwards, not forward.
Chaput claims that he “decided to restrict Father Paul's ministry so that he would have no unsupervised contact with minors pending the outcome of the internal Archdiocesan investigation that was in progress.” But that's what Catholic officials have said, for decades, to justify their irresponsible secrecy in clergy sex cases. It's reckless to ask one or two or three Catholic employees to try to keep an accused child molester away from kids.
We challenge Chaput to disclose which church employees he assigned to “watch” Fr. Paul and tell us exactly how they performed this impossible task. And we want Chaput to disclose how many other church employees are currently “watching” other suspected child molesters while secrecy is being maintained and alleged criminals are still on the job while so-called church 'investigators' creep along at a glacial pace.
That kind of action is what truly safeguards kids, not gestures like “healing” masses.
(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 15,000 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)
“…..”the negligence of the church’s pastors"….." Archbishop Chaput’s phrase in his sermon at the healing Mass…….
The use of the word “pastors” is intentional and deliberate. If he were serious about healing and forgiveness, our Philadelphia spiritual leader would have said:
“the negligence of the church’s BISHOPS”
Philadelphia Police Dept.