The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Letter to Bishop Finn
Jan. 13, 2010
Dear Bishop Finn:
We are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our goal is to help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We believe that, as responsible adults, we need to do everything we can to create a welcoming climate, not a hostile one, for abuse victims, young and old, to come forward, call police, get help, expose predators, protect others, and start healing. We also believe that, as responsible adults, we need to warn families about potentially dangerous predators.
These are our reasons for writing you now.
We've been contacted recently by two concerned Kansas City Catholics who report that a credibly accused Kansas City predator priest personally and recently told them that he is now a lawyer in Colorado. These Catholics worry, as do we, that none of his neighbors or co-workers likely know little or nothing of the serious allegations he's faced - allegations of child molestation.
We know Brewer hasn't been criminally charged or convicted, and that a civil lawsuit against him ended with no clear resolution due to a technicality. But we also know that
--prevailing in litigation because of a technical defense is no "vindication,"
--no KC diocesan official professes Brewer's "innocence,"
--no one has ever recanted sex abuse allegations against Brewer,
--Brewer resigned his clerical position when accused (which was unusual in the early 1990s),
--even church officials admit that very few child sex accusations against priests are false or mistaken
--most priest who are 'cleared' after wrongful allegations are restored to ministry (and Brewer hasn't been).
We suspect Brewer is still on the Kansas City diocesan payroll (in part, because so few pedophile priests are ever defrocked). But even if he isn't, we believe you have a civic and moral duty to warn unsuspecting families about his past. It's irresponsible for Catholic bishops to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, pay, transfer and shield priests who are predators, then (when the heat gets too intense) merely act like bishops have no connections to these dangerous men.
Bishop, as you must understand, ignoring likely child molesters is problematic in two ways.
First, it rubs salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of many Catholics and victims who still struggle daily with feelings of shame, guilt and betrayal - over both the sex crimes of clerics and the complicity of bishops.
And second, it deters others with information about sex crimes - both victims and witnesses - from contacting the police, from getting help, from speaking up, and from preventing future abuse. When they see predators escape justice with technicalities, and their supervisors staying silent and doing nothing, many victims and witnesses feel powerless and depressed, and opt to keep quiet rather than disclose their pain, hope for justice, and end up being betrayed again.
So today, we are asking you to take just a few simple, inexpensive steps to help make sure Brewer doesn't hurt another child and to help make sure that those he HAS hurt feel some comfort and relief. They include:
-- Work harder to find and help others hurt by Brewer. That's what we think Jesus would do. That's what any responsible adult in this situation would do, because otherwise, there's a good chance that another child or young person will continue to struggle in shame, silence and self-blame, feeling depressed and overwhelmed by the devastating impact of child sexual abuse.
-- Use your considerable resources (websites, newspaper, parish bulletins, employees) to let your flock know about Brewer's status (Is he defrocked? Still on the payroll?) and whereabouts, and beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes to
-- Contact your colleague, Denver's archbishop. Urge him to take these same steps, so that Colorado families can better protect their children. (Imagine how you will feel if you learn next month that Brewer molested a Boulder boy or girl, and that he might not have had access to the child if you had taken action.)
We all have a moral duty to help make it less difficult for victims to come forward, expose predators, get help, and protect others. And church leaders especially have a duty to ameliorate the suffering of victims who were hurt by clergy and who are still suffering.
We hope you will start taking action now to help foster this kind of welcoming climate, instead of tolerating a hostile one, and to help heal the wounds of those so grievously injured by a Kansas City diocesan cleric.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests