The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
November 14, 2004
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Sex Abuse Victims Have Reservations about Candidates For Bishops' National Presidency
Here are SNAP's reservations about each of the candidates for the presidency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. SNAP leaders would prefer that these men focus healing wounded victims and preventing future abuse in their own dioceses rather than seeking a national position.
Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein:
More than a month ago, SNAP asked Buechlein to help them reach out to victims of an abusive ex-priest who faced eight allegations and now lives in Haiti. Buechlein never rsponded. Last summer, Buechlein sought to re-assign a priest who'd been arrested for soliciting sex at a truck stop (Fr. Ron Ashmore) to three small churches by asking parishioner to vote on his return.
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput:
Earlier this year, Chaput lead the charge to stop annual "audits" of bishops' performance with abuse cases, arguing that such reviews were needed only every three or four years and claiming the National Review Board was "overstepping its bounds." and has no "supervisory authority." Last summer, he refused to publicly identify or help SNAP find other victims of a suspected abusive priest (Neil C. Hewitt).
Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan:
Since March, Dolan has refused to try and mediate or settle dozens of abuse cases in his archdiocese. He fought reforming the restrictive Wisconsin statute of limitations and Dolan has only released the names of some of the known abusive priests his archdiocese. Dolan has not disclosed the identities of religious order offenders. He has not released the locations of any known offenders. Just last week, another cleric (Father Buzanowski) was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child and another priest (Father John Rice) was charged with possessing child pornography. Their names are not included on the list released by Dolan.
Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis E. George:
George is spending thousands of dollars on high priced lawyers trying to overturn Illinois' new child protection law in the courts. Last year, a full six months after the Dallas Charter passed, he allowed a convicted molester to live with him and work in the archdiocese (Fr. Ken Martin) George has failed to discipline a pastor who clearly and knowingly ignored the Dallas Charter by letting a twice-removed perpetrator (Fr. John Calicott) to teach sex education to kids in his old parish.
Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas:
Without offering evidence of any financial hardship or consulting with Catholic lay people or victims, Kicanas prematurely and suddenly declared bankruptcy on the eve of a potentially embarrassing civil molestation trial which involves considerable evidence of diocesan cover up.
He has asked for and won a rigid, arbitrary cut off date past which victims cannot come forward and get help.
San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada:
Levada delayed removing a charismatic accused priest from his post, even after his staff met face-to-face with the victim and she filed a civil lawsuit. Later, Levada returned that same cleric to active ministry, despite a second allegation from another unrelated victim. Just this week, the lay person hand-icked by Levada to head the archdiocesan review board quit in protest, saying the board's independence was compromised. (See San Francisco Chronicle)
Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Justin F. Rigali:
During his eight year tenure in St. Louis, Rigali never once met with leaders or members of the local victims support group. He allowed at least two clerics to remain as pastors despite civil lawsuits against them, and permitted one pastor to sue his accuser alleging slander. During a criminal trial against a priest who'd admitted to the police he was a molester, Rigali allowed defense attorneys to repeatedly attack the credibility and motives of the victim and his family. He also permitted that priest to wear his Roman collar, even after he was convicted. He's been called to testify before a grand jury in Philadelphia.
Spokane Bishop William S. Skylstad:
He has released less than half of the names of known and suspected abusive priests in his diocese. Just this year, he sought to toss out more than ten civil cases on the archaic and dangerously restrictive statute of limitations. Over three days of depositions this summer, Skylstad claimed he "couldn't recall" or "doesn't remember" more than 300 times. He shared a rectory with Spokane's most notorious abusive priest yet "knew nothing" of the crimes and did little to stop the perpetrator.
Pittsburgh Bishop Donald W. Wuerl:
While publicly posturing as a "reformer" on this issue, he allows his PR staff to attack the motives of victims and their attorneys, and refuses to publicly name known and suspected abusive clergy. He bought one half hour of prime time local television to run basically a sefl-serving "informercial" about how well his diocese is handling abuse, but refused to allow a victim on the panel. Wuerl has ignored requests to help warn West Virginia families about an abusive priest from Pittsburgh who is now practicing in that state as a counselor.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests