TX, IA, NM, AZ, and MO--Victims beg: “No complacency about Feit”
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 9, 2016
We’re grateful that accused murderer and ex-priest John Feit is back in Texas but worry that many are feeling complacent instead of acting vigilantly in this case. Though prosecutors say they have new evidence, no one should rest easy or stay silent. Every single person who has any knowledge of or suspicions about Feit must come forward now if he is to be successfully kept locked up.
We’re also sad that Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores is trying to distance himself from this horrific crime while apparently doing nothing to help solve it.
We hope that Catholic bishops in five states (TX, IA, NM, AZ, and MO) will show leadership and do outreach to any others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Feit. We especially hope Feit’s former church colleagues and supervisors will call law enforcement and that officials at the Phoenix Catholic charity where he worked will aggressively seek out anyone among their staff and clients who may have been hurt by Feit.
We are still hoping that at least one current or former Catholic official will answer a simple but crucial question. Feit pled no contest to assaulting one young woman. He was suspected to have murdered another one. So how can Catholic officials justify giving him a job at a Phoenix church charity and access to thousands more young women, especially vulnerable, needy ones who went there seeking help?
Remember, Feit wasn’t even given a desk job. He had a training position. He was given a leadership role that mandated his involvement with perhaps thousands of individuals.
Instead of praising those who exposed or investigated or warned others about Feit, Bishop Flores stressed that the case “dates back to 1960.” How’s that help? What purpose does that already-widely-known fact serve other than promote complacency?
This is what bishops do in child sex abuse and cover up cases. They emphasize how long ago the crimes happened, in a blatant attempt to mollify their flocks. Instead, they should be motivating their flocks and staffs to help law enforcement resolve these cases.
We predict that bishops in every place where Feit worked or lived will do nothing to be helpful. So we hope that other current and former church staff in those states will honor their moral and civic duty by doing all they can to find other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers who can enable law enforcement to successfully prosecute Feit.
Accused priests often get top notch lawyers who exploit legal loopholes, evade justice, and get little or no jail time even if convicted. So now is not the time to get complacent. It’s the time to work harder to find and help those with information or suspicions about clergy crimes and cover ups in Texas, Missouri, Arizona or New Mexico.
So Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels, San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller (where Feit went to seminary), and church staff in the Springfield MO diocese (where there is no bishop now) and Flores, get busy. Act like the shepherds you purport to be.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.