For immediate release: Tuesday, May 27, 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)
The New York Times is now reporting that Francis says Vatican officials are investigating three bishops for alleged child sexual crimes or cover ups and that one of them has been convicted. For the safety of kids, we call on the pope to disclose who those bishops are right now, especially the convicted one.
If he hasn't yet – and we suspect that's the case – Francis should give information about all three of these allegations to police and prosecutors right now, no matter when they may have occurred.
Again, for the sake of children's safety, he must reveal who and where these three men are. If the allegations are serious enough to warrant Vatican investigations, they are serious enough to make public.
By delaying these disclosures, Vatican officials may be enabling prelates who have perpetrated or hidden child sex crimes to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, fabricate alibis, and flee overseas. It's convenient but reckless for Catholic officials to secretly investigate those who commit and conceal sexual violence against kids and disclose their decisions months or years later while more sexual violence against kids happens and is hidden.
Regarding the convicted prelate, we strongly suspect and hope this is Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. But since Francis refuses to name this bishop, we suspect that millions of Catholics are wondering "Could this be my bishop? Might he have been found guilty years ago somewhere else and no one knows about it?" In fairness to everyone, Francis should disclose the name of this convicted prelate.
Francis must disclose whether these allegations have been turned over to police and prosecutors. If they haven’t been, he must hand over that information immediately. If he doesn't, he's telling the world’s bishops that crimes and potential crimes must continue to be quietly dealt with "in house" by biased church staff instead of being addressed by independent, unbiased and experienced secular authorities.
(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)