The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Letter to Archbishop Schnurr
February 4, 2010
Rev. Dennis M. Scnhurr
Dear Archbishop Schnurr,
We are writing today about the Cincinnati area priest who was criminally indicted in West Virginia recently for sexually abusing a child. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, news media reported that Rev. Robert F. Poandl, a priest of the Glenmary Home Missioners order (headquartered in nearby Fairfield, OH in Butler County, within the territory of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati) was indicted last month by the Roane County, WV grand jury for allegedly sexually abusing a 10 year old Cincinnati boy in 1991 at Holy Redeemer Catholic parish rectory, in Spencer, WV.
According to news reports and a statement issued Tuesday by the president of the Glenmary order, Rev. Dan Dorsey, the abuse was reported in June 2009, at which time he notified law enforcement officials in Ohio and West Virginia as well as the leadership of three Catholic dioceses - Cincinnati OH, Wheeling-Charleston WV, and Savannah, GA. Sadly, officials with the Glemary order and your Archdiocese of Cincinnati kept silent about the accusations until now. Your own director of communications, Dan Andriacco, dismissed the matter Tuesday evening in a statement to a local newspaper by saying that you as archbishop have no authority over priests of religious orders, even though they happen to be located within your diocese. This is a callous and indifferent cop out, and a poor excuse at worst. Your lack of willingness to help protect kids by authorizing such a transparent rationalization is unseemly and detrimental to what you say is a priority on your own website - the priority of protecting children. Is it OK with you if children are only abused by non-diocesan priests? Of course it isn't. Your director of communications should be sacked for uttering such a thoughtless statement.
If you have no jurisdiction over non-diocesan priests and the priests in your territory who belong to religious orders, why did Rev. Dorsey contact your office in June 2009 with news of the allegation and subsequent suspension of Rev. Poandl? If you had no need to be notified of the allegation, what was done with the notification? We request that you make this notice from the Glenmary order available to the press and to the public as a gesture of transparency.
If you have no jurisdiction over non-diocesan priests and the priests in your territory who belong to religious orders, why does the Archdiocese of Cincinnati website contain several "clergy alerts" regarding several non Archdiocese of Cincinnati priests who are fugitive in some manner from their parent diocese? These are listed under the "Protecting Children" heading on your website www.catholiccincinnati.org
Since you have been made aware by Rev. Dorsey in June 2009 that Rev. Poandl is now residing at the Glenmary headquarters in Fairfield, have you notified the pastor, staff, and parishioners of your own nearby parishes St. Gabriel in Glendale or Sacred Heart in Fairfield that a Catholic priest under suspension and now indictment for the criminal sexual abuse of a child is living in their midst? If so, when? Are their kids worth protecting by notifying their parents at least? You know the answer to that question - of course they are, but are you doing all you can do to make sure of that necessity?
Being victims ourselves of clergy abuse, we contend that Catholic staff in all three dioceses should have disclosed the allegations months ago, instead of keeping quiet, and therefore putting more kids at risk of being abused.
Secrecy and the time it buys give perpetrators opportunity to intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, destroy evidence, and fabricate alibis. We feel the church hierarchy's silence also violates the national church sex abuse policy which allegedly mandates "openness" in clergy sex cases. Your silence in this matter is deafening and violates the spirit of the 2002 Dallas charter. Archbishop, as you have recently commenced your new assignment here in Cincinnati, we are looking at this problem as the first real test of your leadership here. We ask you to disclose publicly exactly when and who of your staff first learned of the allegations against Poandl, and that you publicly release any internal notices that may have been sent out to any priests who are under your jurisdiction, warning about the presence of a suspended Glenmary priest living in your territory while under investigation for the criminal sexual abuse of child. We also suggest that that you publicly admonish the Glenmary order for its own secrecy and failure to do all it could to protect children.
You should use your archdiocesan website, newspaper, and parish bulletins to urge other victims and witnesses to contact law enforcement immediately if they know or suspect any abuse by any of your employees, or by any Catholic priest living or working in your archdiocese without respect to being under your specific jurisdiction. Not only are these are simple, inexpensive, proven steps that both help heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable, it is your moral responsibility to do all you can - indeed more than the minimum- to keep kids safe.
According to Internet sources, Poandl was assigned to many geographic locations during his priesthood. While we are making no determination of guilt or innocence in this case, and in keeping with the spirit of taking the side of keeping kids safe, we remind you that most sexual abusers rarely have only a single victim, so there is a possibility that he has harmed more kids in other regions. There is also a strong possibility that unless more victims and witnesses come forward, law enforcement's case against him will not be strong enough and he may walk free, only to harm again.
We hope you will decisively and quickly act in an affirmative manner to safeguard those at risk. You are the top Catholic official in all of Ohio, and the only person higher than you on the Catholic pecking order is the Pope himself. You do indeed have the authority to act affirmatively. Glenmary's Rev. Dorsey certainly does not out rank you, notwithstanding Mr. Andriacco's attempt to deflect the focus on your abilities Tuesday evening. You are the one person whose actions more than your words can do the most to keep children safe. Please do not shirk this awesome responsibility.
Judy Block Jones
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests