Paraguay- Victims predict admitted predator priest won't be charged
For immediate release: Tuesday, July 1, 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)
A Vatican team is being sent to investigate a priest who allegedly molested several U.S. boys and is now second-in-command at a diocese in Paraguay.
While we are very skeptical of internal church investigations, we are glad at least something is happening about this troubing case. But we also want bishops in both countries to reach out to others this priest has hurt.
Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity was accused of sexually abusing at least four boys at St. Gregory's Academy in Moscow, Pennsylvania between 2002-2004. At least two civil suits were filed and one of them was settled for $380,000. Scranton diocesan officials sent Fr. Urrutigoity to a church treatment center which concluded that he “should be removed from active ministry and his (priestly) faculties should be revoked.”
We call on Catholic officials throughout Paraguay, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania to aggressively reach out to their flocks - using their bully pulpits, church bulletins, diocesan websites, and personal parish visits - and beg anyone who saw, suspects or suffered child sex crimes to come forward, report any crimes or misdeeds they may have seen, suspected or suffered by Fr. Carlos to police and prosecutors.
And we urge those with information or suspicions about him to seek independent sources of help, like law enforcement officials and groups like ours.
A Boston-based research group called BishopAccountability.org disclosed that Fr. Urrutigoity is now in the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and is its Vicar General. We are grateful for their painstaking and accurate research.
In the 1990s, Fr. Urrutigioity lived and taught at the St. Pius X Seminary in Winona. He belonged to a controversial and very conservative religious order known as the Society of St. Pius X.
What could be more reckless and callous than quietly sending another credibly accused child molesting Catholic cleric overseas to live and work among unsuspecting families?
“Ironically, a few weeks ago Pope Francis complained that Catholic officials are 'singled out' and 'picked on' in abuse cases. This case should help him understand why: because his underlings continue to knowingly put kids in harm's way.
Transferring predator priests to different dioceses or countries is dreadfully irresponsible but sadly, nothing new. It is a dangerous and self-serving practice that puts unsuspecting families and children at great risk.
A spokesman for Bishop Joseph Bambera, who now heads Scranton diocese, claimed last Friday that “in every instance (the previous Scranton bishop) clearly expressed his reservations concerning Father Urrutigoity” “and cautioned the (Paraguay) bishop to not allow Father Urrutigoity into his diocese.”
We are, however, are skeptical of this claim and think it misses the mark.
Private talks or letters among Catholic officials about predator priests rarely protect kids. Public admissions and outreach by Catholic officials is what protects kids.
It matters little what US Catholic officials say privately to other Catholic officials. What really matters is when Catholic officials publicly admit that a predator priest is dangerous and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors. Bishops in every place where Fr. Urrutigoity worked should do this now, and insist that the Pope start defrocking him.
Attorney Harry T. Coleman of Carbondale, Pennsylvania (570-282-7440, firstname.lastname@example.org) represented at least one of Fr. Urrutigoity's victims. The priest was represented by Sal Cognetti of Scranton. (570-346-0747, email@example.com).
Fr. Urrutigoity's work history and photo are here: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/Argentina/#Urrutigoity
(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 18,000 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.