Vatican--Papal aide told bishops to destroy evidence two years ago; Victims respond
For immediate release: Thursday, July 21, 2016
Two years ago, the pope’s top US aide ordered two bishops to destroy evidence and blocked an investigation into clergy sex crimes, misdeeds and cover ups, according to a newly-released memo written by an “insider” priest and chancery office insider. Pope Francis must now discipline this wrongdoer. All four clerics - the nuncio who issued the order, the two bishops and the “whistleblower” priest (Fr. Daniel Griffith) – all kept silent, for two years, about this inappropriate and perhaps illegal move.
Consider the source here: The 11 page memo was written by a trusted Catholic priest who is no renegade, but holds a job at the archdiocesan headquarters. In today’s New York Times, he’s quoted as saying he stands by what he wrote.
This revelation will shock some but should shock no one. When the veil is pulled back on church’s hierarchy’s secrecy in child sex and cover up cases, this kind of self-serving and deceitful behavior is almost always found, even now, despite decades of devastating scandal.
It matters less if evidence was destroyed or what the two bishops did. What matters most is that the pope's highest US representative reportedly told two bishops to destroy a document that may have helped prosecutors build a stronger case against an archbishop accused of committing sexual misdeeds and concealing child sex crimes.
Pope Francis must denounce and discipline the nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. US church officials must forcefully and push back against Vatican interference in clergy abuse cases here. These officials include Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (head of the US bishops’ conference), Bishop Robert Burns (head of the US bishops’ sex abuse committee) Archbishop Bernard Hebda (the current head of the Twin Cities archdiocese) and Francesco Cesareo (the head of the US bishops’ national abuse review board).
The two bishops, Bishop Donald Cozzens and Bishop Lee Piche, should also be disciplined and denounced for keeping secret this hardball maneuver.
And Pope Francis should defrock Archbishop John Nienstedt, who was being investigated when the nuncio stepped in with his heavy-handed order. Nienstedt is accused of both concealing child sex crimes and committing sexual misconduct with at least 11 young seminarians. He should not be a priest, period.
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions – especially in Minnesota – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(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)