We are members of a Chicago-based international support group called SNAP. Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
We’re here today, outside the Toledo Catholic Diocese headquarters, for three reasons:
1--To urge Toledo’s bishop to tell parishioners and the public – now and on a regular basis - the whereabouts and status of predator priests in the diocese,
2-- To urge a Toledo nun – just elected to a national church post- to push for more disclosure of child molesting clerics who belong to religious orders,
3-- And to urge all Toledo Catholic officials to warn citizens and Catholics that a now defrocked pedophile priest, Dennis P. Gray, is reportedly joining a Perrysburg parish.
In December 2010, and several times in years before, Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair has issued “updates” about the status of the diocese’s 31 publicly accused child molesting clerics. He has, however, not done so for more than a year. We in SNAP feel he should do so every year, at a minimum. That’s the quickest way to protect kids. http://www.toledodiocese.org/index.php/tp-protect/1703
We’re also here because we’re worried about a former predator priest, Fr. Dennis P. Gray. A concerned Catholic has told us several times that Gray is joining Blessed John Catholic Church in Perrysburg,OH. We want Bishop Blair to use his diocesan website, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to warn local citizens about Gray. (The Winona, Minnesota bishop did this recently regarding a similar pedophile priest, Fr. Thomas Adamson.)
Blair has many excuses he can use:
“I have no knowledge of this.”
“Gray won’t have any formal leadership role.”
All of this may be technically true. But none of it fundamentally changes Gray himself or his attraction to children. Why not play it safe? Why not warn others about him?
Gray was sued for molesting at least 11 boys from 1975-87. As recently as 2002, Gray was working for Toledo Public Schools as dean of students at a high school. He has shown the same pattern of many child molesters – leaving one workplace around kids and going to another workplace around kids.
Any reasonable person would consider him dangerous. And any caring shepherd would warn his flock about him.
Keep in mind that Catholic officials recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train and often transfer pedophile priests. So it’s irresponsible for those Catholic officials to suddenly wash their hands of predator priests and do little or nothing else to protect the public from them.
We don’t object to Gray belonging to a parish. But we believe Toledo Catholic officials have a moral duty to warn parishioners and the public about Gray.
Finally, we’re here today because of Sister Nancy Mathias, a Toledo Catholic diocesan official. She has been elected president of the National Conference of Vicars for Religious. This group interfaces between bishops and religious order clerics – like Jesuits and Franciscans – in each diocese.
Abuse and cover up, we in SNAP believe, are even more rampant in religious orders than in dioceses.
Religious order predators are much less likely to be caught, reported, suspended or ousted when they molest kids. So we want Sr. Mathias to lobby her peers and insist that bishops disclose the child molesting religious order clerics in their dioceses and more aggressively seek out and help their victims.
Only two dozen bishops post the names of child molesting clerics on their websites. Few bishops, however, include religious order predators. This must change if kids are to be safer. Sr. Mathias can, and should be, part of that change.