SD- Sioux Falls bishop must act; his predecessor is under fire
For immediate release: Thursday, June 12, 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)
In a deposition released Monday that's attracting national attention (The Washington Post, NBC News, the Religion News Service, and elsewhere), former Sioux Falls bishop Robert Carlson claimed 193 times that he "couldn't recall" information about predator priests. He also made two other startling claims;
1) that he never called the police about known or suspected clergy sex crimes at any point in his 24 years as a priest, bishop and other top church official in Minnesota.
2) that he wasn't sure whether he knew it was illegal for priests to have sex with children when he worked as chancellor of the Twin Cities archdiocese in the 1980s.
And another Catholic bishop testified under oath – in a different deposition – that Carlson advised him to claim memory loss if he were deposed in clergy sex abuse cases.
Clearly, he's being deceptive. And he continues to be deceptive in clergy sex cases here in St. Louis.
Given this, we can't help but suspect he also concealed clergy crimes during his years in Sioux Falls (1995 - 2005). According to BishopAccounatbility.org, there are 24 publicly exposed predator priests, nuns, brothers and seminarians in the Sioux Falls diocese.
So we call on current Sioux Falls Bishop Paul Swain to do what Carlson never did - take a firm stand to protect children and expose wrongdoing. He must post on his website the names, photos and whereabouts of all predator priests (proven, admitted and credibly accused). He needs to personally visit the parishes where they worked, begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police. And he should publicly denounce his predecessor for being deceitful.
And we urge every current and former Sioux Falls Catholic church member and church employee to report suspected or known child sex crimes to law enforcement and ask their friends and family if any of them were hurt by any child molesting cleric.
(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.
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.