Though we know very little about Bishop Monforton, we are encouraged by this selection. We worry when chancery officials – bishops, auxiliary bishops, vicars general, and chancellors – are promoted, because many of them are involved or were involved in covering up child sex crimes. The chances are lower that priests or monsignors (who spent most of their careers outside the chancery) are guilty of this complicity and secrecy. So we’re hopeful when those who are not chancery employees are elevated.
We do worry that he does come from a particularly scandal-ridden archdiocese with 51 proven admitted or publicly accused child molesting clerics. (Twice In the last two months, we’ve had to urge Detroit Catholic officials to warn their flock about two sexually troubled priests who have returned to the Detroit area: Fr. Maurice G. McNeely and Fr. Thomas D. Williams.) Still, a quick on-line search shows no obvious connection between Monforton and any clergy sex abuse and cover up cases.
We hope Bishop Monforton will immediately be more honest about Fr. Gary Zalinski. It’s especially important that parishioners and the public are told where he is and the status of his defrocking. Because of the secrecy of Bishop Conlon and Msgr. Kemo, many don’t realize that the allegations against him have been deemed credible and that the Vatican is working to strip him of his priesthood. Catholics and citizens need and deserve to know the truth about Zalinski. Bishops have promised to be “open and transparent” in child sex cases involving clergy.
This will be Bishop Monforton’s first test of leadership in Steubenville – will he depart from the dangerous secrecy of his predecessor and “come clean” about Zalinski or will he continue that dangerous secrecy?
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