PA - SNAP: Three steps to be taken now in Philly
For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 26
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
We respectfully disagree with DA Seth Williams. The Philadelphia archdiocese deserves no kudos for reporting this priest to law enforcement. And one incident cannot be deemed some sort of “sea change” in a long-standing, deeply-rooted culture of secrecy, recklessness, callousness and deceit.
Church officials reported Fr. Brennan, we believe, because they didn’t want to go to jail like Msgr. William Lynn has. It’s self-interest, not reform, that prompted this call.
We are disappointed that Catholic officials are being praised for simply, finally, obeying the law.
We caution Mr. Williams and Philadelphia Catholics against premature complacency. Premature complacency protects on one. Only sustained vigilance protects kids.
Here’s what the 2005 grand jury report said about Fr. Brennan:
Since 1988, the Archdiocese has learned of inappropriate or suspicious behavior by Fr. Robert L. Brennan with more than 20 boys from four different parishes.
He was psychologically evaluated or “treated” four times. (NOTE-Archbishop Charles Chaput wants us to believe church officials are ‘reforming.’ But we suspect they still send sexually troubled clerics to the same discredited church facilities they’ve always used.)
Depending on the level of scandal threatened by various incidents, Cardinal Bevilacqua either transferred Fr. Brennan to another parish with unsuspecting families or ignored the reports and left the priest in the parish with his current victims. The Cardinal’s managers advised Fr. Brennan to “keep a low profile,” but never restricted or supervised his access to the youth of his various parishes.
When Cardinal Bevilacqua retired, Fr. Brennan was still a parochial vicar at Resurrection parish in Philadelphia, despite reports from parish staff that he had inappropriate contact with several students from Resurrection’s grade school. In June 2004, Fr. Brennan was appointed Chaplain at Camilla Hall, a retirement home for nuns.
According to BishopAccountability.org and news accounts, a civil abuse and cover up suit involving Brennan was filed 5/11.
On June 10, 2004, Msgr. William Lynn wrote Fr. Brennan that “there is convincing evidence that over a number of years, you have engaged in behavior that is entirely inappropriate and unacceptable for a priest.” Yet days later, Catholic officials put Fr. Brennan to work in a nursing home (according to the grand jury report).
First, it’s time to clean up the Philly church mess for good. Every single person – whether church staff or church member – who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Philly must act. Each person should share what they know or suspect about these crimes and cover ups – however small, old or seemingly insignificant – with law enforcement.
Second, it’s time for lawmakers to let more child sex abuse victims expose more child predators and protect more children, by adopting a civil “window” so that courthouse doors are cracked open and child molesters are put on trial where they should be.
Third, it’s time for Chaput to go to every place where Fr. Brennan was put to work and passionately beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors. Anything less is just public relations. For years, church officials prevented law enforcement from doing its job. Now, they should help law enforcement do its job.
Besides several assignments in Philadelphia, Fr. Brennan also worked in Yardley, Collegeville, Broomall, Schwenksville, Immaculata and Drexel Hill.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.