The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, September 11, 2009
Clergy sex victims appeal to Kentucky Council of Churches
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790
They ask organization to speak out against ordaination of criminal
On Sunday, Louisville church will elevate convicted child molester
SNAP: "Responsible religious leaders must take a stand against recklessness"
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging the Lexington-based Kentucky Council of Churches to "speak out" against the impending ordaination of a convicted child molester as a Louisville minister this weekend.
In a letter sent today, leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging the Kentucky umbrella church organization to use its "bully pulpit" to denounce the decision by a Louisville congregation to honor Mark Hourigan, who was found guilty in 1998 of molesting a child.
Yesterday, SNAP members held a news conference outside City of Refuge, urging the church to delay their decision and hold an open public meeting to discuss the issue.
A copy of SNAP's letter, sent this morning by fax and email, is below:
Sept. 11, 2009Rev. Reverend Dr. Marian McClure Taylor
The Kentucky Council of Churches
1500 Leestown Road, Suite 108
Lexington, Kentucky 40511
(859) 269-7715; Fax (859) 269-1240
Dear Rev. Taylor:
We suspect that you and your organization is aware that, despite considerable controversy, a Kentucky church plans to ordain a convicted child molester a minister this weekend. The church is the City of Refuge Worship Center in Louisville. The individual is Mark Hourigan, who was convicted in 1998 of molesting a child.
We know you have no formal oversight of or authority over City of Refuge Worship Center, or its pastor, or Hourigan. We know it's always easiest to do noting, especially in the face of controversy.
But we also know that doing nothing doesn't protect kids. And we know that often the right thing to do is the hard thing to do.
You and your organization have a powerful bully pulpit, and you represent churches and church groups all across Kentucky. You have a strong, respected voice. We beg you to use it to safeguard "the least among us:" innocent children.
Surely, you and other responsible church leaders see how reckless and callous this is - to give greater power and prestige to an admitted sex offender. Surely, you understand that this is both hurtful to vulnerable kids and wounded adults.
This move puts innocent kids in harm's way. And it rubs salt into the already deep and often still fresh wounds of adults who were molested as kids, especially those who were victimized by clergy.
Furthermore, the silence of other church officials and institutions, in light of such recklessness and callousness, is also hurtful. (We share the view of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, who once wrote "All too many (churches) have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.") The actions of City of Refuge cause pain. So too, however, does the inaction of other church authorities. Please, we beg you, speak up and condemn this dangerous injustice.
Yesterday we wrote City of Refuge pastor's regarding Hourigan. We asked "Why the risk? Why the rush?" We urged him to "postpone this controversial and reckless decision, even just a week, and hold an open public meeting to discuss it."
The risk, of course, refers to the chance Hourigan will re-offend. We understand the pastor believes God has "touched (Hourigan's) heart." We know he believes Hourigan's "reformed.'' But the pastor is not a professional social worker or psychologist. And even those professionals have a very tough time predicting which child molester will molest again. And sadly, many molesters do, in fact, re-offend. "Imagine," we wrote the pastor, "how you'll feel if this happens at your church."
"Why gamble with the safety of our most vulnerable citizens, our children? Why not be prudent instead, and let Hourigan continue in his present role without giving him a more powerful post where he'll inevitably be around more kids?" we asked.
We told the pastor we believe this is a reckless move that will only put kids in harm's way. Forgiving someone is a private and often healing act. But giving a known child predator an exalted title and role and access to kids is a public and always risky act.
We told him we consider the church's claim that Hourigan will sign a pledge to not be alone with kids to be meaningless. This kind of promise won't deter a child molester.
We are convinced that a truly remorseful and 'reformed' sex offender would not even seek a position like minister, just as a truly repentant and sober alcoholic wouldn't seek a job in a tavern.
The rush, of course, refers to the fact that this decision was announced and will apparently be implemented within just two weeks or so.
"What's the harm in having one open meeting?" we asked.
We hope that you will take the time and find the courage to publicly repeat and endorse our simple request - to delay Hourigan's planned ordination and hold an open public meeting before making a final decision.
Time is short. We hope to hear from you soon.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests