Below is a letter sent today by fax and email to Bishop Matt Bartchak of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown:
Survivors Network of those Abused By Priests
Chicago, Illinois 60622-5474
Dear Bishop Bartchak:
We and belong to a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
We are calling on you to take a simple, inexpensive, common sense and long overdue step toward these goals: post the names of all credibly accused priests within his diocese on your website, in you diocesan newspaper, and in parish bulletins.
This is a minimal step that helps parents, parishioners and the public know who and where these predators are, so that kids can be kept away from them.
Roughly 30 US bishops have done this (almost always after considerable public pressure.) None, as best we can tell, has regretted it. You’ve had ample time to do so without external prodding. Please use your considerable resources and ‘bully pulpit,’ Bishop, to at least let parents, public and parishioners know who and were these child molesting clerics are and were, so that the vulnerable may be safeguarded and the suffering may be validated.
In addition, we also beg you to
-- seek out others who may have seen or suspected child sex crimes by a recently accused priest, Fr. George Koharchik,
-- personally visit each parish there Fr. Koharchik worked, begging other victims to come forward, get help, and call police.
Last month, law enforcement officials announced they’re investigating this priest. You, your staff and your flock have both a moral and civic duty to help them. Your actions – or inaction – could lead to a potentially dangerous sex offender walking free on a technicality or getting a short sentence and later hurting others. Please take clear public steps to help police and prosecutors do their jobs effectively in this case.
As you know, Fr. Koharchik, was accused of abusing children in the late 1970’s, and was temporarily removed from ministry in August when the accusations were made. More of his victims have already come forward, so it is likely that there are still others who are afraid to speak up. Your firm but gentle prodding may make a difference, Bishop. We believe you have an obligation to try and find and help find these people, so they can heal and perhaps contribute to the criminal investigation into Fr. Koharchik’s alleged crimes.
We in SNAP repeatedly urges those who have seen, suspected and suffered clergy sex crimes to find the courage to call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing. As Bishop, we urge you to do the same, especially now, and especially regarding Fr. Koharchik.
We look forward to hearing from you.
David Clohessy, Executive Director, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)
Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)