The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
August 12, 2003
Dear Archbishop Pilarczyk:
Last year, you publicly removed Father Lawrence R. Strittmatter from ministry because of abuse allegations. You also publicly apologized "to those who have been abused by Father Strittmatter." (Enquirer 6/10/02) Your spokesman also admitted that the priest "did not deny the allegations." (Enquirer 6/11/02)
In addition, Strittmatter stands publicly accused of molesting ten boys who are now adults. He faces two civil lawsuits, which claim he abused "at least several dozen" children.
Therefore, no one can doubt his guilt.
Yet Strittmatter's photo still hangs in a prominent place in the school's lobby. Also hanging nearby are portraits of the Pope and other former Elder principals. What signal does this send to children?
We in SNAP believe this is terribly insensitive. It hurts those Strittmatter has already severely hurt. Even worse, it sends a chilling message to others who may be being molested right now.
We respectfully ask you to remove the photo immediately. Keeping it in place rubs salt into the wounds of innocent people he has traumatized. Keeping it makes it tougher for other victims to speak up. Taking down his portrait from a place of honor is the very least you can do.
Elder High School is, no doubt, an excellent school. It has clearly produced some of Cincinnati's best and brightest. However, with this one simple, humane step, you can make it an even better school. You can make it a safer place for abuse victims to come forward, expose their perpetrators and begin to heal.
I have spoken with several people who were molested by Strittmatter. These are good, caring men. Nothing can magically erase the years of pain they have endured. But you can avoid compounding their pain.
We know that Father Strittmatter spent 45 years at this archdiocese. We are certain he did a great deal of good. But we hope that you will understand how keeping his portrait on prominent display pains those he so deeply betrayed.
We have one other request. We ask that you do as Jesus commanded us, and reach out to the â€lost sheep,â€ the others who were molested by Father Strittmatter. We respectfully ask that you publicly urge other victims to contact police, prosecutors and/or our support group.
This can quickly, easily and inexpensively be done through the archdiocesan web site, newspaper, church bulletins and Elder publications.
You surely know that sex crimes victims often remain trapped in secrecy, shame, and silence, unless specifically and sensitively urged to speak up. This public gesture, reaching out through archdiocesan means, could well be just the encouragement a struggling victim might need to break his or her silence and begin to heal.
Archbishop, please see our requests in the proper Biblical context. We are asking you to side with those whom Jesus tells us to side with - the wounded, the hurting, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the vulnerable. By taking these two steps, you can help show molestation victims and Cincinnati Catholics that you and your staff take sexual abuse seriously and want others who have been deeply scarred to feel comfortable coming forward. By taking these steps, you can help prevent future abuse.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests