The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, December 9, 2010
More "inexcusable" Secrecy by Maine’s Bishop; SNAP Responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Around 2003, bishops first began to believe they had weathered the worst of the church’s on-going clergy sex abuse and crisis. Since then, they have, for the most part, consistently backpedalled on and ignored their earlier pledges to be more open about child sex cases and put the safety of kids first. Today’s news – that Maine’s bishop is hiding the identity of seven recently accused predator priests – is further proof that it’s “business as usual” in the self-serving church hierarchy.
Bishop Malone’s irresponsible secrecy benefits one person most: him. It also benefits child molesting clerics. Everyone else – parents, police, parishioners and the public and those who’ve been assaulted – are hurt by this callous and reckless move.
In two cases, Malone explains he refuses to disclose the name of the accused priests because they are “dead and have already been named publicly because of previous abuse allegations.” If they’re dead, Malone’s being honest with the parishioners and the public can’t hurt the wrongdoers. But such honesty could help those still living – some, perhaps dozens, of victims of those two clerics.
Malone’s public relation staffer claims “One of the priests is alive but has been removed from the ministry and named publicly because of previous allegations.” Again, he should be publicly identified. If parishioners believe a priest has been accused once or twice, some of them will be fooled into believing the allegations are false. If, on the other hand, a bishop is honest, and tells his flock that 20 or 30 individuals report having been assaulted by a priest, those parishioners are more apt to believe the allegations and keep their kids away from that priest.
“In two other cases, the people who complained could not identify the priest who allegedly abused them, (a church official) said. Here again, honesty would be helpful. Malone should announce “We have allegations against priests who worked in X parish and Y parish during these years. We don’t know where the truth lies here. So if you have any information that might prove or disprove the accusations, please come forward.”
We’re most concerned, of course, about the two priests who “are the subject of abuse allegations for the first time and are under investigation by the diocese.” Their names should be disclosed, along with the dates that reports about them were first made to the diocese. In 2002, bishops pledged to act quickly, suspend accused predators, safeguard their flock first, and then investigate. Unless the accusations against these priests have surfaced in just the past few days, Malone is breaking his promises and the US bishops abuse policy. Even worse, he’s violating basic common sense and needlessly jeopardizing the safety of vulnerable children in Maine.
Malone makes a silly distinction between accused priests who work in parishes and those who do not. That’s pathetic. A priest uses his status and title to gain access to kids, not his job assignment. A parent trusts a priest to take their daughter to the movies because he’s a priest, not because he’s a pastor, parochial school teacher, or Catholic university professor.
Malone’s public relations woman says that “In most cases when new, credible allegations are made against a priest, the diocese publicly names them and removes them from parish duties.” That’s not what kids need, parents deserve and bishops promised. Bishops pledged to remove and name credibly accused clerics each and every time.
Finally, Malone crows about meeting the vague, minimal abuse guidelines set up by the bishops themselves. Big deal. Almost every bishop in the US is found every year to be “in compliance” with those extraordinarily weak guidelines hastily devised by the church hierarchy largely for public relations purposes.
We hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes in Maine – especially those with information about the seven most recently accused pedophile priests – will find the courage to speak up and the wisdom to seek independent help from therapists, support groups and law enforcement, not church officials.
When victims, witnesses and whistleblowers stay silent, kids remain at risk. But when victims, witnesses and whistleblowers come forward, at least there’s a chance for prevention, justice, healing and truth-telling.
(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 10,000 members. 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)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, email@example.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Posted: December 9
Allegations of priest abuse still reported
By John Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org - Staff Writer
PORTLAND — Nine years after the Catholic Church's sexual-abuse scandal erupted in New England, reports of abuse committed by priests decades ago continue to trickle in to Maine's diocese.
And church leaders are still being criticized for not providing enough information.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced last week that, for the fifth consecutive year, it is in full compliance with the church's national child-protection policies and standards. The standards include reporting and investigating complaints, and screening and training employees.
The diocese has failed to meet the standards once since American bishops set up annual reviews eight years ago in response to the scandal, which began in Boston in December 2001 and eventually brought to light hundreds of cases of abuse in Maine and elsewhere.
Maine's Bishop Richard Malone said Friday that "this sad and shameful episode of Church history will continue for as long as victims are in pain."
While announcing the results of its annual audit, the diocese said new accusations were made against seven priests during the latest 12-month audit period. The most recent incident allegedly occurred in 1982.
The diocese has withheld the names of the seven priests, citing a variety of reasons.
Two of the priests are dead and have already been named publicly because of previous abuse allegations, said Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese. One of the priests is alive but has been removed from the ministry and named publicly because of previous allegations.
In two other cases, the people who complained could not identify the priest who allegedly abused them, Bernard said.
The two remaining priests are the subject of abuse allegations for the first time and are under investigation by the diocese, she said. In most cases when new, credible allegations are made against a priest, the diocese publicly names them and removes them from parish duties, said Bernard.
But the two priests in question were not actively assigned to a parish, because of age, illness or some other reason, she said. They were formally suspended from taking on any assignments pending the investigations, but there was no need to name them or notify their parishioners, she said.
"Right now, we see it as an accusation and that's it," she said. "If it's substantiated, then we would put out the release with their names."
For Paul Kendrick of Freeport, a longtime critic of the church's handling of abuse cases, the latest announcement by the diocese is another example of the church trying to limit information and minimize the damage.
"We want (Malone) to post all the names, photos, etc. on the diocese website, just like the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has done," he said.
It shouldn't matter if an accused priest has a parish or not, he said.
"Other than having to explain why a priest is leaving a parish, when they put that name out ... it presents the opportunity for other victims who may have been abused by this person to, for the first time in their lives, tell someone what happened to them" and get help and support, Kendrick said.
Bernard said that, while withholding names of priests who are under investigation, Malone wants victims to come forward.
"That's why every time the bishop puts out anything like this, he always is saying, 'If there is anyone else out there, please come forward. We want to offer help,'" she said.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests