The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Statement Regarding Abuse Allegations in
May 23, 2006
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago (312)
- more than four years after the clergy sex abuse scandal burst into the nation's awareness,
- almost four years after the bishops allegedly adopted reforms, and
- five months after his horrific mismanagement of the McCormack case surfaced,
still, the second highest ranking US bishop can't be honest with his flock. Cardinal George temporarily suspended a twice-accused pedophile priest last weekend. But he wouldn't say why.
From at least three separate sources, archdiocesan staff have received reports of abuse by Fr. Robert Stepek. Perhaps the first report, directly from a victim, was made the week before last. Another was made last week. Yet none of this was disclosed when Stepek was suspended.
What's the problem with George's continued secrecy?
It further hurts already wounded victims.
It discourages witnesses and victims from speaking up.
It demoralizes and disillusions Catholics, when it is finally disclosed.
It delays crucial conversations among parents, kids and parishioners that could lead to criminal prosecution.
And it violates the repeated promises bishops have made time and time again to their flock - to be more open and transparent about child sex abuse.
Parishioners should be told the truth as to why Stepek was suspended. Cardinal George should apologize for not informing parishioners and hold an open parish meetings at all the parishes where Stepek worked so the public can ask questions and get answers. George should also encourage anyone with information to report it to police.
We beg the Cardinal's PR machine to not brag about how quickly Stepek was suspended from active ministry. That's just a smart legal defense move, nothing more. That's just what a smart lawyer would do. A caring shepherd, however, would warn his flock. That's what George should have done but didn't.
Tomorrow's headlines will likely read "Another Allegedly Abusive Priest Removed." The headlines should, however, read "Again, Cardinal Deceives His Flock."
People shouldn't be shocked that another predator priest has again been discovered. They should, however, be outraged that another bishop has again been deceptive."
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP National Outreach Director (314) 862 7688
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President (312) 399 4747 cell
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests