PA--Victims want predators “purged” & one wrongdoer punished
For immediate release: Friday, March 11, 2016
Statement by David Clohessy, director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
With lightning speed, Altoona Bishop Mark Bartchack recently removed a couple of church banners, a nearly-meaningless gesture. But with glacial speed, he talks but won’t move on pressing and practical steps that will protect kids.
In the whole 147 page report, perhaps the most disturbing fact is that the jurors are “concerned the purge of predators is taking too long.”
That fact was made public ten days ago. Since then, Bartchak has not exposed or suspended even one predator priest. This is very troubling. He must act now. What could possibly be more important that warning parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about credibly accused child molesters and getting them out of ministry? Every day a child molester stays hidden gives him more chances to assault kids, destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers and even flee to evade prosecution.
Bartchak also refuses to
--discipline even a single wrongdoer identified in the grand jury,
--fire a nun who deals with victims and was blasted in the grand jury report,
--replace his review board members who the report called “biased,”
--even oust ONE review board member who refused to answer questions by grand jurors,
--discipline or even denounce a priest who verbally attacked police, prosecutors and jurors,
--alert bishops in Florida, South Carolina, Colorado, West Virginia into whose dioceses Altoona predator priests were quietly sent (and may still be living), or
--aggressively beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police, using pulpit announcements and church websites and parish bulletins.
And he’s dragging his feet on posting predators’ names on his website, which he’s promised to do. (He could put up a partial list in an hour if he tried.)
We’re reminded of the famous fast food ad of years past that popularized the phrase “Where’s the beef?” In this case, it’s “Where’s the action?” The short answer is: In Altoona, it’s sorely lacking.
The grand jury concluded “Nothing has changed” in the Altoona diocese with respect to abuse reports. And nothing will change unless Altoona citizens and Catholic insist that Barchak stop the words, apologies, promises and excuses and start showing leadership, and begin by speeding up the purge of predators from parishes.
(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)
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.