For immediate release: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Msgr. Michael F. Olson has been named the bishop of the Ft. Worth Catholic diocese.
We are glad every time a newly named bishop comes from outside a chancery office. Olson is no “outsider.” But we are encouraged because his last position wasn’t inside a diocesan headquarters.
Still, we urge Ft. Worth citizens and Catholics to be skeptical. Vigilance protects kids. Complacency protects no one. So while it’s tempting to give the new guy “the benefit of the doubt,” we urge parishioners and the public to report known and suspected clergy sexual misdeeds to secular officials, not church officials.
There are 12 publicly accused Ft. Worth child molesting clerics (according to BishopAccountability.org). We suspect the real number us three or four or five times higher. We hope the new bishop will scour the files and disclose the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric who lives/lived or works/worked in the diocese (whether living or deceased, religious order or diocesan). And we hope he will update the list regularly and publicly.
Finally, we hope he will aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Father William Paiz. Last year, Fr. Paiz was accused of assaulting a child at All Saints Catholic Church, St. George Catholic Church and other locations. He worked at Nolan High School.
Tahira Khan Merritt, the attorney for Fr. Paiz’ victim, said she believes that Fr. Paiz may still be working as a priest elsewhere. Bishop Olson should find this out and warn Fr. Paiz’ unsuspecting neighbors of his current whereabouts and his troubled past.
Regardless of Fr. Paiz’ status or whereabouts, Ft. Worth Catholic officials gave Fr. Paiz access to kids. Fr. Paiz is accused of molesting kids. So Ft. Worth’s new bishop has a duty to use his vast resources to help find others who were hurt by Fr. Paiz. The bishop should also encourage them to call police and prosecutors so that Fr. Paiz might be charged, convicted and kept away from kids.