TX - SNAP Wants Fort Worth Pastor Disciplined
For immediate release
Wed., June 30, 2004
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Barbara Blaine 312 399 4747
David Clohessy 314 566 9790
He Allowed Suspended Priest Into His Parish
SNAP Urges Bishop To Enforce Zero Tolerance Policy
Leaders of a nationwide support group for clergy abuse victims are urging Fort Worth Bishop Joseph P. Delaney to discipline a Catholic priest who allowed a suspected child molester into his parish.
Father Clay of the Scranton diocese was removed from ministry two years ago, because of abuse charges. Yet he was just found in active ministry in an Arlington parish this week. Clay and two other Pennsylvania priests are subjects of a Vatican authorized ecclesiastical judicial process which could result in his being permanently defrocked. While awaiting results Clay was told not engage in any form of ministry.
The pastor of St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington, Fr. Allan Hawkins, allegedly permitted Clay to help at the parish without notifying diocesan personnel.
"Fr. Hawkins is openly defying his bishop and the national rules on abusive priests," said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "The bishop needs to decide who runs his archdiocese. When it comes to the sexual abuse of kids, he either has a 'zero tolerance' policy or a 'turn a blind eye' policy. The bishop must choose."
"Why bother removing abusive priests if those dangerous men simply sneak back in and no one suffers any consequences?" said Blaine. "The bishop can remove suspected abusers day in and day out, but if their brother priests let them back in, kids will be in danger," said Blaine.
"But Father Clay is not the issue. Father Hawkins is," Blaine said. "How can the bishop allow Hawkins to elude responsibility for this deliberately dangerous and disrespectful behavior?"
"Clay is a disturbed man who won't listen to reason and won't obey his bishop. That's clear," David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP, said. "So punishing Clay will likely have little or no impact. The bishop needs to punish Hawkins."
Two other Catholic prelates, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport and Bishop Charles Grahmann of Dallas, have disciplined priests who defy zero tolerance policies, SNAP leaders claim.
Former Connecticut priest Laurence Brett was wanted by the FBI for molesting kid in three states. They tracked him down to a Caribbean island, but he narrowly escaped. Agents did find evidence that two Bridgeport priests had corresponded with Brett, a criminal suspect on the run from the law. Bishop Lori disciplined those two priests.
In Dallas, in the wake of the widely publicized Fr. Rudy Kos case, the diocese began background checks on all parish employees. A Dallas Morning News investigation showed that at least two pastors failed to implement these simple safeguards. In response to public pressure, Bishop Grahmann demoted these errant pastors to smaller parishes.
"By taking these sound management steps, both church leaders sent their flock a clear signal: hiding or enabling a child molester will not be tolerated," Blaine said. "The Fort Worth bishop needs to do likewise."
Blaine praised the Pennsylvania priest's victim who reported him. "It takes tremendous courage to do what this person has done," Blaine said. "We have tremendous gratitude and admiration for him. Thanks to his bravery, children will be safer."