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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

Victims push Catholic officials for action

Alleged church probe into predator enters 8th month

But there’s no evidence that anything’s happening, says SNAP

Self help group knows of no one who’s been contacted about priest

Cleric impregnated vulnerable young woman & ignored their child

Suspended last fall, he is also accused of molesting an Illinois teenager

SNAP to St. Louis Franciscans: “Citizens, Catholics & victims deserve answers”

Victims also want new Springfield bishop to disclose the names of child-molesting clerics

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will urge three Catholic institutions to:
-- aggressively reach out to anyone with information about an alleged predator priest who was ousted last fall,
-- disclose where he’s living now, and
-- tell citizens and Catholics what’s been learned during an alleged eight-month church investigation into the cleric.

They will also prod a new Illinois bishop to post all the names of central Illinois child molesting clerics on his diocesan website.

WHEN
Wednesday, June 30, 2:15 p.m.

WHERE
Outside the Franciscan regional headquarters, 3320 Meramec St., in south Saint Louis, MO

WHO
One - two members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including the organization’s long-time director

WHY
Last October, Fr. Henry V. Willenborg was suspended from active ministry because of allegations that he molested a Quincy IL teenager. Church officials immediately pledged to investigate the accusations. But it’s been eight months, and SNAP sees no evidence that any such probe has taken place or is taking place. SNAP wants the church hierarchy (especially Willenborg’s direct supervisors in a St. Louis-based religious order called the Franciscans) to disclose Willenborg’s current whereabouts and use its considerable resources – church bulletins and websites and newspaper – to aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered any of Willenborg’s crimes or misdeeds.

Since October, all of the relevant church officials have been silent about Willenborg’s whereabouts, status, and their supposed investigation. These include the Franciscans and bishops in Wisconsin and Illinois. SNAP says it doesn’t know of a single person who’s been contacted by church officials about Willenborg, and hasn’t seen a single sign of any public outreach, such as news releases, ads, letters to current or former church members or employees. And SNAP believes no such probe needs to take eight months to finish.

Such silence and inaction violates the US church abuse policy, which calls for sensitivity toward victims and openness in clergy sex cases, SNAP says.

At the time of his ouster, Willenborg was working at Our Lady of the Lake church in Ashland, Wisconsin (in the Superior Diocese). The move was prompted, in part, by a long, page one New York Times story which disclosed that Willenborg seduced a young devout Illinois Catholic woman, impregnated her twice, urged her to have an abortion once, then for more than two decades essentially ignored the boy he fathered. In the same article, another woman said that Willenborg had sexually abused her when she was in high school in Quincy. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/us/16priest.html

This is Bishop Thomas Paprocki’s first full week in his new job as head of the Springfield IL Diocese. SNAP is asking him to take two immediate steps to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. The group wants him to do what 24 other bishops have done, and post on his website, for the sake of public safety, the names, whereabouts and priestly status of child molesting clerics who are or have been in central Illinois. Second, SNAP wants him to work hard to find and help anyone who may have been hurt by a priest who is accused of sexually violating an Illinois girl.

According to a Boston-based independent research group called BishopAccountabilty.org, there are eight publicly accused Springfield diocesan child molesting clerics. SNAP notes that the actual number of Springfield-area pedophile priests is likely much higher because BishopAccountability.org lists only those clerics against whom allegations have been lodged in the public domain – in civil lawsuits, criminal prosecution or news accounts.

In 2002, Baltimore became the first US diocese to disclose names. A good current example is the Philadelphia archdiocese: http://archphila.org/protection/Updates/update_main.htm. Here is a list of all the dioceses that have disclosed names: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm

(SNAP is holding a similar news conference today in Quincy IL about Willenborg and is sending letters to Paprocki and Superior Bishop Peter Christensen about him.)

CONTACT
David Clohessy 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
Barbara Dorris 314 862 7688 home, SNAPdorris@gmail.com


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