Two groups involved in the Catholic church's child sex abuse and cover up scandal are urging Pittsburgh's bishop to put a just-suspended priest in a treatment center.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and NSAC, the National Survivor Advocates Coalition, are writing Pittsburgh's Bishop David Zubik about Fr James Graham Last Friday, Graham was removed from his parish because of credible allegations that he molested a child. The priest's whereabouts are unknown.
"Zubik should put him in a remote, secure, independently-run center for sex offenders so he can get the help he needs and so that kids can be safer," said Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director. "Zubik should also personally visit every place where Graham worked – starting this Sunday - and urge anyone who may have knowledge or may have been harmed to contact the police".
Often, the groups say, bishops suspend a credibly accused molester from active ministry. But once ousted from their parishes, most aren’t supervised or ordered to live in supervised settings, the gropus maintain.
“Moving a suspected predator from one spot to another is the bare minimum,” and” said Kris Ward of Dayton, NSAC’s president. “Graham should be closely watched by trained professionals and his travels and contacts should be limited.”
Both organizations also believe that current and former church staff and members who may know
“Protecting kids and helping police is the job of every adult, not just adults in certain jobs like bishop,” Jones said.
A copy of the groups’ letter to Zubik sent via email and fax this morning, is below:
April 19, 2012
Most Rev. David A. Zubik
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Diocese of Pittsburgh Pastoral Center
111 Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA. 15222-1618
Dear Bishop Zubik:
We are writing to you today as representative of two organizations concerned about the well being of innocent children with a strong desire to protect them from harm.
With that as a guide, we are asking you to take strong, deliberate and immediate steps to place Father James Graham in a remote, secure and independently run center for sex offenders.
We make this request so that he can receive the help he needs as well as contribute to a safer, more protected environment for children.
Allowing the whereabouts of this priest to remain unknown to the vast majority of the residents of Pittsburgh and its environs and those who travel into the area is a situation over which you have considerable power and we respectfully ask you to use that power and act in the best interest of children and to aid this priest.
You are able to provide comfort to Catholic parents and grandparents as well as all Catholic parishioners and all men and women of goodwill in the Pittsburgh area by making sure that Father Graham’s access to children is deliberately controlled.
We strongly urge you as the leader of the Pittsburgh Diocese to put at least, the innocent, the powerless and the most vulnerable, the children, at the top of your decision making considerations.
We also ask that you aggressively reach out to the parishes in which Father Graham previously served to create a climate of sincerity for survivors to come forward. There is no substitute for leadership – and in the Catholic Church, for leadership from the top.
We ask you to show that parishioners should not hold survivors at arms’ length or re-victimize them by negating their experiences. We ask that you impart to parishioners the sense that survivors should be treated with dignity and respect.
Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”
Kristine Ward, Chair NSAC, “National Survivor Advocates Coalition”