Vatican--Victims urge papal outreach to archbishop Wesolowski's victims
For immediate release: Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, bblaine@SNAPnetwork.org)
For the sake of healing, we call on Pope Francis to aggressively do outreach in each of the ten nations where archbishop Josef Wesolowski spent time as a cleric. The pontiff should publicly beg anyone who was hurt by Wesolowski to come forward and get help.
(The nations are: Poland, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Tadjikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Dominican Republic, Italy and Puerto Rico.)
For the sake of justice, we call on Pope Francis to insist that church staff in each of these nations turn over files about Wesolowski to law enforcement. It’s possible that some of this predators’ colleagues intimidated victims, threatened witnesses, destroyed evidence, stonewalled police, shredded documents or broke laws in other ways. If so, they should be prosecuted, and Francis can help make this happen.
Regardless of what the pontiff decides, we call on the bishops of these nations to take these steps immediately.
Because it’s likely Wesolowski hurt kids in many (perhaps all) of these countries.
Because Catholic officials recruited, educated ordained, trained, promoted and moved Wesolowski.
Because Catholic officials call themselves “shepherds” who search for and help “lost sheep.”
Because Catholic officials rebuffed efforts by secular authorities in Poland to prosecute Wesolowski.
Because Catholic officials rebuffed efforts by secular authorities in the DR to prosecute Wesolowski.
(“Dominican failed in their attempt to have him extradited to stand trial in the Caribbean.”)
Because as recently as two weeks ago, Vatican officials let Wesolowski walk freely in the Vatican.
Because last year, Vatican officials recklessly did the same thing.
Because, as Barbara Dorris of SNAP said, “Had Vatican officials turned over Wesolowski to secular authorities, as they should have, he might have already been tried, convicted and imprisoned. And more truth about wrongdoers in his case might have surfaced.”
As powerful as he is, Francis can’t turn back the clock. He can’t “un-do” these repeatedly irresponsible moves he and his staff have engaged in or tolerated.
But he can take steps now to help make sure that even one Wesolowski victim doesn’t keep suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. He can also show, by taking concrete steps, how bishops should act in these cases. And he can perhaps enable law enforcement to investigate, charge and convict even one cleric who hid or enabled Wesolowski’s crimes.
In light of these dangerous Vatican decisions, that is the very least the pope should do.
(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)