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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Clergy sex abuse victims blast Hartford Catholic church re: financial scandal

Statement by David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790)

Once again, top Catholic officials claim their concern for a colleague trumps the well-being of thousands of parishioners who donate and belong to this parish. That's how they explain seven years with no oversight of this now-frustrated parish: because chancery staff thought the pastor was ill.

If the Hartford diocese can't keep track of which pastors are ill, steal money and disband finance councils, it's hard to believe they're being really vigilant about child sex abuse.

For decades, we've seen how church policies about child sex crimes were ignored. Increasingly, in recent years, we're seeing how church policies about finances are being ignored. Sadly, this is what happens in a rigid, ancient, secretive, all-male monarchy with virtually no real oversight or 'checks & balances.'

The next time a priest anywhere disbands a parish finance council, we hope church members will holler and scream until the bishop takes action.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members across the globe. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contacts: David Clohessy (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003)

http://www.rep-am.com/news/local/490709.txt

Tuesday, June 22, 2010 3:13 AM EDT

Archdiocese: Accused priest missed financial filings for 7 years

BY LAURESHA XHIHANI REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WATERBURY -- Officials at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford let the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Waterbury go for seven years without filing required financial reports because he had a reputation as a sound financial manager and officials believed he suffered from a life-threatening illness.

That priest, the Rev. Kevin J. Gray, is now suspected of stealing $1 million in parish funds.

The archdiocese received no yearly financial reports for any of the years that Gray was the pastor of Sacred Heart-Sagrado Corazon Church. The Rev. John P. Gatzak, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Gray filed one financial report in 2003, the year he took over Sacred Heart, covering 2002, a year when another priest was heading the church.

The archdiocese received no other yearly financial filings from Gray. The statement submitted by Gray in 2003 was not signed by any members of the church's financial council.

"It appears that Father Gray disbanded the financial council" when he took over the church, said Gatzak.

Church canon law requires the church have a financial council. Sacred Heart had no financial council and no parish council during the time Gray was there, Gatzak said.

Gray, 64, has admitted to diverting money from a savings account that would have paid for building renovations and church debt. The archdiocese contacted police after accountants discovered improprieties during a routine review of the church's financial records earlier this year.

Church officials had been trying to review church financial records since July 2009, but were unable to conduct the review until earlier this year.

Gatzak said the archdiocese had given Gray some leeway with submitting yearly financial statements because of his health.

Church officials were under the impression that Gray was suffering from "a life-threatening illness." Parishioners thought Gray had cancer.

"There is reason to believe that he may have not been totally truthful regarding his health situation," Gatzak said.

Gatzak would not elaborate.

Gatzak said another reason Gray was allowed to get away with not filing the financial statements was his work and reputation. He served as priest in Waterbury for more than 20 years, including St. Margaret's Church from 1993 to 2000 and St. Cecilia's Church from 2001 to 2003. St. Cecilia's parishioners became part of Sacred Heart in 2005, increasing the membership to 1,200.

Gatzak said there was no money missing from either St. Margaret's or St. Cecilia's. When a priest takes over a church, part of his job is to go over the financial records of the parish. Records for both those churches were in order.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org