For immediate release: Monday, March 3, 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)
In a shocking display of bias, a Catholic prosecutor has impugned a man's honesty because he left the priesthood.
Dale Tacheny says that Fr. John Feit admitted that he murdered Irene Garza. But prosecutor Rene Guerra doesn't believe Tacheny because, he says, “Anybody that’s a former priest who left the priesthood has broken the vows of the church and now he says he’s the biggest truth-teller in the world. I don’t believe that.”
That's worrisome and prejudiced. We call on the prosecutor to apologize for his hurtful remarks. Fewer victims and witnesses will likely report known and suspected crimes – especially against Catholic parishioners and staff – fearing that Guerra may also publicly attack their credibility because of choices they have made that he disapproves of.
Millions of Americans get divorced. Hundreds of thousands of men have left the Catholic priesthood for many reasons. Tens of thousands of priests have not honored their pledge to be celibate.
Each could be considered to have “broken” a “vow.” But none of that reflects on the integrity or truthfulness of any of these individuals, especially one like Tacheny who, without any apparent ulterior motives, has voluntarily shared what he knows about a murder with police and prosecutors (and who continues, decades later, to push for justice).
If Rene Guerra has adopted a new standard and now refuses to believe any witness who has ever “broken” a “vow,” we suspect he'll have a very hard time winning many convictions.
And if he doesn't want to re-open the Irene Garza investigation, that's his right. But he shouldn't excuse his inaction by defaming a witness, especially on who many others find credible.
(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 25 years and have more than 15,000 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)