Rome- Pope protects archbishop from police

Rome- Pope protects archbishop from police

For immediate release: Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

Our hearts ache for the Dominican boys who were manipulated and assaulted by a Polish archbishop who is being protected from prosecution by Vatican officials.

Shame on Pope Francis and every single Catholic official – in Rome and the Dominican Republic – who is helping Archbishop Josef Wesolowski evade secular authorities. Wesolowski is accused of sexually violating a boy in exchange for epilepsy medicine, for heaven's sake. Yet the highest-ranking Catholic officials won't turn the archbishop over to the police in Poland, Italy or the Dominican Republic.

What self-serving hubris it is to insist that no police or prosecutors anywhere can touch a Catholic child molester.

Vatican officials also refuse to disclose the archbishop's whereabouts. So he could now be traveling the Italian countryside, looking for poor boys and using cash to sexually abuse and exploit them today.

This time, the excuse is “He's a diplomat.” Catholic officials have dozens of other excuses they trot out when they're caught hiding a criminal: “He's very old now,” “He molested when he was a seminarian, not a priest,” “His crimes happened years ago, so law enforcement couldn't pursue him anyway,” “His whereabouts are unknown,” or “He's in a wheelchair now and can't hurt anyone else.” They always have some excuse for why they refuse to do their simple moral and civic duty: telling secular authorities about a clerical criminal.

Sadly, this case proves what few can bring themselves to believe: that Pope Francis has brought no substantial reform to the church's long-standing and on-going abuse and cover up crisis. No one denies that he's making dramatic changes in church finances and governance. And many ill-informed people assume that he's making similar changes with clerics who commit or conceal heinous child sex crimes. But they are wrong. He is not.

He's “talking the talk,” often more eloquently than his predecessors. But he didn't “walk the walk” in Argentina and he's not doing so now. (Note that Catholic officials admit discussing this case with the pope directly. So he can't claim that he's ignorant or misinformed.)

The crisis has two parts: healing the wounded and protecting the vulnerable. The latter is the most pressing priority. And it's the easiest, because often it simply requires Catholic officials to do what they constantly claim they do: call the police. But this case, like so many others, shows that in fact top Catholic clerics still do NOT call police. Or if they do, they delay, they hide evidence, they give half-truths, and they act deviously so they can protect themselves, their power and their reputations. We still rarely see a prelate who genuinely and voluntarily takes real steps to protect the vulnerable from proven predators. That's not changing under Pope Francis.

Finally, at the risk of quibbling, top Catholic officials did not “fail” to tell police about these crimes. They refused to tell police, as they have in thousands of other clergy sex cases and as they refuse to do now. The word “fail” suggests a good faith effort that went awry. But calling the police is a simple step. Few who try it fail. Catholic officials, however, deliberately and selfishly refuse to contact law enforcement about child molesting clerics, despite decades of pledges to do so.

(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)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com)

   

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