The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Green Bay sex abuse victims expecting new "law and order" prelate to “clean up” diocese
SNAP to present “5 benchmarks” for Ricken’s “First 100 Days as Bishop”
In unusual move, group praised Ricken in 2005 for urging Wyoming officials to prevent priest’s release
--SNAP letter to Bishop Ricken posted below--
Today the Vatican appointed Bishop David Ricken of the small diocese of Cheyenne, WY as the new bishop of Green Bay.
The Green Bay diocese has been rocked by the release earlier this year of hundreds of pages of secret church documents detailing decades long cover up of sex crimes by clergy under several Green Bay Catholic bishops, including the current Cardinal of Detroit, Adam Maida. Maida was replaced by Robert Banks from the Boston Archdiocese. Banks, according to a scathing Massachusetts Grand Jury report, was Cardinal Bernard Law’s chief lieutenant in covering up for offender priests before coming to Green Bay.
Documents were also released this year from the Norbertine religious order, headquartered in the diocese and under the supervision of the Green Bay bishop, detailing there policy of hiding and transferring known sex offenders.
According to the Green Bay diocese, as of 2004, 51 clergy were determined by church authorities to have assaulted children over the past several decades, 18 of them Norbertine clerics, making the diocese one of the highest concentration of clerical offenders in the country.
SNAP leaders have repeatedly called on the Green Bay diocese to release the records, identities and settlement locations of all 51 clergy, and any clergy identified since 2004 to have sexually assaulted or abused children. Bishop David Zubik, during his brief tenure as bishop, repeatedly refused the group’s request.
In a short email to Ricken sent this afternoon, Wisconsin clergy sex abuse victims praised Ricken again for a 2005 letter to Wyoming Parole Board urging that a convicted priest offender from his diocese not be released from prison.
SNAP officials will be presenting 5 “benchmarks” before Ricken’s installation—concrete, measurable actions he can take in his first 100 days as bishop that could decisively turn the abuse crisis around in the Green Bay diocese.
SNAP Letter to Newly Appointed Bishop of Green Bay
“Bishops should be the best of citizens.”
July 9, 2008
To: David Ricken, newly appointed bishop of the Green Bay Diocese
From: Peter Isely, Midwest Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Re: Your first hundred days as the new bishop of Green Bay
We are writing to you on behalf of the many victims of child sexual abuse form the Green Bay diocese and throughout the state of Wisconsin.
The recent release of church documents from the Green Bay diocese detailing decades long cover up of child sex crimes has distressed not only us but many Catholics throughout your new diocese. We believe that responding swiftly and decisively to the problem of clerical sex abuse in the Green Bay diocese and the abysmal institutional history revealed in these documents will prompt you to make child protection your first and lasting priority as bishop.
Know one understands this problem better, we believe, than those who have had to endure its worse effects—the victims and family members of the 51 clerical offenders that Green Bay church officials admitted in 2004 had been sexually assaulting children and minors over the past several decades. That’s critical information we believe you need to have as you prepare to exercise what we anticipate is going to be decisive, unambiguous and swift leadership addressing this crisis.
Your first one hundred days as bishop, we also believe, is going to set the tone and tenure of your civic and pastoral legacy. Bishops should be the best of citizens. Sadly, that is not what these “documents of deceit” by your predecessors reveal.
Unfortunately, they have left the difficult and depressing work of shouldering the moral, criminal and financial consequences of these actions to you. Yet, as challenging as the days ahead will be, you can be encouraged and emboldened by the suffering and sacrifice that so many victims of these horrible crimes have undergone in their often long and seemingly endless journey to justice.
Hopeful for your success and eager to be of assistance, Wisconsin survivors are today planning and preparing to share with you our collective wisdom and hard won insights, especially the steps you can take in those critical and unrepeatable first three months in office.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests