The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Letter to Cardinal George
June 17, 2009
Dear Cardinal George:
Like millions across the globe, we are horrified by the disclosure of systemic and devastating child sex crimes and cover-ups in Catholic institutions in Ireland. Like hundreds of thousands here in the US, we also are shocked by your silence and the silence of your American colleagues to this vast scandal.
For weeks, Ireland has been in turmoil over a new government report which documents decades of pervasive and systematic child abuse in church-run orphanages and other residential care institutions. Although the report has shocked Catholics and generated headlines worldwide, US church officials have failed to make a public statement about the scandal.
The silence of US bishops has been deafening, especially given that this news affects millions of Irish-American Catholics in a personal way. Your silence is particularly egregious because so many US priests, nuns, brothers, seminarians and bishops began their careers or lives in Ireland.
We cant help but wonder if you and your brother bishops are staying silent because the Irish report may prompt closer scrutiny of the American hierarchy on two fronts: (1) How many predatory Irish priests and nuns found sanctuary in US dioceses? (2) Did bishops cover up the sexual and physical abuse of helpless children in Catholic orphanages and residential schools in the US?
Ireland had a centralized system of state-financed, church-run schools and homes for children. The situation in the US is, of course, very different. Still, Catholic dioceses and religious orders in America have, for decades, operated hundreds of orphanages, reform schools, minor seminaries, and boarding schools. We know that many of these institutions have well-documented histories of child sex crimes.
At St. Johns School for the Deaf in Wisconsin, for instance, the boarding schools longtime director, Father Lawrence Murphy, is believed to have raped and abused as many as 200 boys. Two Oregon orphanages employed Fr. Maurice Grammond, who is accused of abusing 50 children.
In light of the horrific report from Ireland and the unsettling facts of similar abuse in the US, we are urging you and each of your brother bishops to:
1. Insist that Irish church leaders give you the names of clerics who molested in Ireland and came to the US,
2. Publicly name all Irish abusers who molested there and moved here,
3. Start reaching out to parishioners in the US who may have been assaulted by Irish clerics, and
4. Admit to the hidden crisis of child abuse in US Catholic orphanages, minor seminaries, and reform schools
Today, BishopAccountability.org has posted on the Internet a list of 12 US Catholic residential institutions where children allegedly were sexually abused. This list is just a start. Like their Irish counterparts, US Catholics and citizens need and deserve a full accounting of the mistreatment of children in all residential institutions owned by the US Catholic Church. You can help make sure the truth is told. But that will happen only if you and your colleagues show courage, prod your Irish brethren for abusers names and records, and make that information publicly known. You must then use your vast resources to identify and help those who were molested in US institutions or by abusive Irish priests who came to the US.
We trust you will share our letter with your colleagues. We look forward to hearing your response.