PA--Victims blast Altoona bishop
For immediate release: Monday, Feb. 8, 2016
Two more central Pennsylvania priests have been suspended because of child sex abuse reports. This means that 31 Altoona-Johnstown Catholic priests are publicly accused of sexually assaulting kids.
Fr. David Arsenault (AR’-sen-oh) and Fr. James Coveney are on leave due to allegations that they molested kids.
Bishop Mark Bartchak’s announcement about this move was troubling.
First, he minimizes the horrors and promotes dangerous complacency by stressing that the alleged crimes happened years ago. That’s self-serving but wrong. He should be urging vigilance, not complacency.
Second, Bartchak says he must “re-examine” these abuse reports.” That suggests that he’s known about them for some time. Bartchack must honor his pledges of “openness and transparency” and reveal how long he’s been aware of these abuse reports and why he’s “re-examining” them now.
Third, he deceptively describes child sex crimes as “sexual misconduct involving young people.” Again, he’s mischaracterizing and minimizing sexual violence against children. Shame on him.
Fourth, the odds that both reports were made or deemed credible at the same time are very slim. So Altoona Catholic officials very likely delayed one announcement so they could minimize the bad public relations by disclosing them both simultaneously. That, of course, is reckless. It kept police, prosecutors, parents, parishioners and the public in the dark for days, weeks or months about a likely predator priest.
We urge Catholic officials in central Pennsylvania to use church websites, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to aggressively seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by these clerics and beg them to call police. This is the very least that church officials should do.
All too often, when clergy sex crimes emerge, church staff pretend to be powerless. They are not. They have both the resources and the duty to spread the word and actively help police and prosecutors build a strong case against predatory preachers.
We hope every single person who has information or suspicions about these clerics will summon the courage to call law enforcement, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing. Our hearts go out to the brave individuals who have already stepped up and spoken up and shed light on these child molesting clerics.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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)
Altoona-Johnstown bishop puts 2 on leave over abuse claims
Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania bishop has placed two priests on leave over child-sex abuse allegations more than 20 years old.
Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark Bartchak says he’s put the Revs. David Arseneault (AR’-sen-oh) and James Coveney on leave while the diocese “re-examines allegations of sexual misconduct involving young people.” The priests could not immediately be located for comment Monday.
The 70-year-old Arsenault has been pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Huntingdon since 2001. Coventry, who is 79, has been retired since 2011.
The bishop isn’t detailing the allegations other than to say . . .
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.
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.