The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Statement by SNAP leader Claudia Vercelotti of Toledo, 419 810
"We are very distraught about the Vatican's insistence that a priest credibly accused of molesting a youngster be re-assigned to ministry due to a technicality in church rules.
Today, we urge Cardinal Maida to:
- go to parishes where Fr. Brian Bjorklund worked and prod victims and witnesses to contact police and prosecutors, so that he may be criminally charged, and
- appeal, if possible, to higher Vatican powers, and if necessary, defy a new Vatican ruling and keep Bjorklund out of ministry so that kids will be safe.
We fear this is the first of many such Vatican decisions which will essentially gut the American bishops' so-called 'one strike' policy.
Pope John Paul II that the church has no place in ministry for those who would harm children. He did not draw arbitrary lines or say that the legal, technical age of consent in a particular jurisdiction is more important than the safety of children.
Just over a year ago, US bishop's conference president Wilton Gregory of Belleville put it in no uncertain terms: "Bishops will not tolerate even one act of sexual abuse of a minor. No free pass. No second chances. No free strike. An abuser, who recognizes the profound harm he has committed, and who has shown remorse, can indeed be forgiven for his sins. He just doesn't get a second chance to do it again. Period."
Apparently, Bishop Gregory can't keep this promise. So the burden falls to Cardinal Maida to go beyond the bare minimum approach most bishops take. He must now take strong, affirmative steps to reach out to other witnesses and victims. We urge him to do so immediately.
And we urge Detroit area Catholics to spread Bjorklund's name far and wide, and ask every single Catholic they know if they were victimized by this abuser.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests