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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Group wants religious leaders to act & speak out on abuse

They want meeting about convicted, just-ordained Protestant molester

Victims also want archbishop to do more to find others hurt by suspended priest

All religious officials have a duty, SNAP feels, to speak out against 'recklessness with children'

Self help organization still wants open public event, including Q & A session, with independent congregation

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse victims will
-- urge Catholic officials to work harder to find and help others hurt by a accused, recently-suspended priest
-- urge all greater Louisville ministers to
-- denounce a local church for ordaining a convicted child molester,
-- join victims in seeking a public meeting about the controversial ordination, and
-- formally adopt a statewide resolution or policy welcoming sex offenders into churches but condemning the ordination of them

Afterwards, they will try to hand deliver a letter with their requests to top archdiocesan staff.

They will also urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes the man's crimes to come forward, get help and call police.

WHEN
Thursday, Sept. 24, 1:15 p.m.

WHERE
Outside the Louisville archdiocese headquarters (chancery office) in Louisville, KY

WHO
Three-four sex abuse victims (and supporters) who are members of a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

WHY
SNAP is concerned about two recently clergy sex abuse situations in Louisville - 1) the suspension two months ago of an accused Catholic priest and 2) the ordination two weeks ago of a convicted Protestant cleric.

1) In July, the Louisville archdiocese put Fr. James R. Schook on leave from Saint Ignatius Martyr Parish on Rangeland Road because of allegations that he sexually abused a teenager in 1985. In the weeks since, at least four more reports of alleged abuse by Schook have been made and police are investigating.

But SNAP believes victims and witnesses should report to law enforcement personnel, not church personnel. The group also feels the archdiocese should work harder to encourage anyone who saw suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, call police, get help and start healing. Specifically, they're urging Louisville's archbishop to personally deliver that message, in the weeks ahead, at masses at each of the parishes where Schook worked.

According to the Courier-Journal, Schook, 61, who was ordained in 1975, previously worked at St. Thomas More, St. Raphael, Ascension, St. Lawrence, St. Polycarp and Our Lady of Consolation parishes in Louisville. (The latter two have combined and are now part of St. Peter the Apostle). He also worked in the Catholic Deaf Community Ministry, St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi Church in Payneville, Ky., and St. Theresa Church in Rhodelia, Ky.")

2) Despite considerable controversy, staffers at the City of Refuge Worship Center in Louisville recently ordained a convicted child molester, Mark Hourigan, as their minister. In 1998, Hourigan was convicted on two counts of sexually assaulting an 11 year old. He’s been out of prison just three years.

SNAP wrote the Center's pastor urging the congregation to delay its planned ordination and hold an open public meeting before making a final decision. SNAP wrote to the Center's pastor with these requests but has received no reply. Three days before the ordination, SNAP sent a letter to the Lexington-based Kentucky Council of Churches, urging it to speak out against the move. On Sept. 6, nine SNAP members protected outside Hourigan's ordination. SNAP's pleas have been ignored or rebuffed.

Now, the group is publicly urging Louisville's religious leaders -of all denominations - to denounce Hourigan's ordination and join them in pressing for a public meeting with the congregation. SNAP feels that when a church puts kids at risk, other churches should speak out, instead of remaining silent and therefore essentially condoning the recklessness.

Recently SNAP learned that, according to the state's sex offender registry (http://kspsor.state.ky.us/), Hourigan
-- lives with/next door to other sex offenders at 3404-3406 Rowena Rd., Louisville,
-- is on the registry for life, a designation that's generally reserved for the most serious offenders, and
-- has apparently used an alias, Mark Edward Wells.

SNAP believes that Hourigan's ministerial status will only put kids in harm's way. Some argue Hourigan should be forgiven. SNAP considering forgiving someone a private and often healing act. But giving a known child predator an exalted title and role and access to kids is a public and always risky act, the group says. It is also highly skeptical of Hourigan's pledge to not be alone with kids to be meaningless.

SNAP is convinced that a truly remorseful and 'reformed' sex offender would not even seek a position like minister, just as a truly repentant and sober alcoholic wouldn't seek a job in a tavern.

Finally, SNAP believes that Kentucky denominations and church organizations should take preventive action to reduce chances of other congregations ordaining sex offenders, by formally adopting statewide policies or resolutions that forbid or at least discourage such recklessness.

CONTACT
Rochelle Fournier 502-893-0859, 502-558-9106, cell, David Clohessy 314 566 9790, Tom Wieter 502 387 8705


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org