The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statements

Statement Regarding Reassignment
of Michigan Priest

For More Information:
Claudia Vercelotti of Toledo 419 810 5375 cell
Bill McAlery of Detroit 248 994 1892, 734 452 2520, 734 705 3416
Barbara Blaine of Chicago 312 399 4747 cell
David Clohessy of St. Louis 314 566 9790 cell, 645 5915

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2004

Statement by SNAP leader Claudia Vercelotti of Toledo, 419 810 5375 cell
(Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

"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.


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Vatican reinstates accused Navy chaplain

DETROIT -- The Vatican has reinstated a U.S. Navy chaplain as an active priest after he was placed on administrative leave amid sex abuse allegations, Detroit Roman Catholic leaders said.

The Rev. Brian Bjorklund, 64, was suspended last summer over allegations he molested a 17-year-old boy in his early years in the ministry. He was ordained in 1966.
Vatican leaders say the alleged contact was not a violation of church law at the time, though it is now.

News of Bjorklund's reinstatement comes four days before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops releases a national report on sexual abuse against minors over the past 50 years.

Bjorklund began his career as associate pastor at St. Alfred Parish in Taylor. He became a Navy chaplain in 1988.

Police were notified of abuse allegations last year but chose not to investigate because the statute of limitations had expired. The archdiocese launched its own investigation in July.




Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests