Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letter

Letter to Kansas City bishop regarding Wyoming bishop and Nevada priest

June 23, 2011

Dear Bishop Finn:

We're reminded of a passage from the gospel of Luke: "What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?"

We have repeatedly asked you to take tangible steps that protect vulnerable kids. That's what kids need and parents deserve. Yet you essentially ignore our pleas and instead keep offering more vague apologies, making more vague promises, switching others' job titles and hiring more expensive lawyers.

We haven't and won't ever ask for these gestures. These gestures won't make a difference. They may be great public relations moves. They neither safeguard a single vulnerable child nor help a single wounded victim.

What does make a difference? Among other things, real outreach. Any victim or therapist or cop can tell you that sometimes, when gently prodded by an authority figure, those who have been victimized are more apt to come forward, get help, call police and expose predators.

And when that happens, kids are safer and victims feel better. It really is just that simple.

So as clearly and directly as we know how, today we are explicitly asking for your immediate help in reaching out to those who may have seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes by two clerics who have worked in your diocese. Both predators walk free, even now, among unsuspecting families and who likely enjoy unrestricted access to unsuspecting parents and vulnerable kids.

The first is Fr. Bede Parry, who studied and lived at Conception Abbey, and is being publicly accused today for the first time as a credibly accused child molester.

The second is Bishop Joseph Hart, who spent years in Kansas City, is accused of molesting at least six boys, and against whom at least five civil lawsuits have been settled.

We can already hear your carefully rehearsed excuses:

"Parry is a religious order priest. He's not my responsibility."

"Parry's never worked in a KC diocesan parish."

"I can't defrock a fellow bishop. Only the Vatican can do that."

"Neither cleric has been found guilty in a court of law."

Please, spare us the hairsplitting. Here's what really matters: These two are credibly accused child molesters. They've been in your diocese. They may return to your diocese. And somewhere in your diocese may be one individual who was sexually assaulted by one of them, or an individual who could help get them prosecuted, convicted, jailed and away from kids. Those two simple facts are all you need to take action.

And while you don't sign either clerics' paycheck, you can take steps today - proven steps that cost nothing - to help keep them away from kids. You can post a notice on your website today, warning parents about them. You can put announcements this weekend in every parish bulletin, alerting families about them. You can put an article in your diocesan newspaper urging those who saw, suspected or suffered their crimes to call police.

We believe you should have taken these steps, long ago, without prodding, with every proven, admitted and credibly accused current or former child molesting church employee. But we especially think you should take these steps now with Hart and Parry because you've just promised to do better, because Parry has just been "outed," and because Hart continues to use his title and cunning to be around children.

You desperately want to persuade people things are different in your diocese. So act differently. Stop doing the bare minimum. Stop distancing yourself from predators. Start helping to expose them. And start aggressively seeking out others they have assaulted.

Please, Bishop Finn, for just one day, let go of your public relations strategies and defense maneuvers. Instead, use your 'bully pulpit" to find and help at-risk kids and suffering adults.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

David Clohessy
Executive Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster Place
Saint Louis, MO 63130
314 503 0003

Mike Hunter
KC SNAP Director
4016 W 72 Terrace
Prairie Village, MO 66208

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests