- Victims & advocates want new Catholic lawyers
- Manchester bishop should have “clean break from the past”
- He should also post names of “all accused predators,” three groups say
- Two dozen prelates have taken “this bare minimum safety measure”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their advocates will urge New Hampshire’s new Catholic bishop to
--make “a clean break” from the past and replace the diocesan lawyers,
--endorse legislative reforms that better protect kids from child molesters and
--post on church websites the names, whereabouts and status of all clerics accused of molesting children.
TODAY, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 1:30 p.m.
Outside the Manchester diocesan headquarters (“chancery”), 153 Ash Street (corner of Orange), Manchester, NH
Four women, including one from New Hampshire, who are victims of clergy sex crimes or advocates for abuse victims. They belong to a Chicago-based group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), a Boston-based group called BishopAccountability.org, and a New Hampshire group called Voice of the Faithful (VOTF)
The group wants New Hampshire’s new bishop, Peter Libasci, to take three “simple but important steps” to “better safeguard the vulnerable and heal the wounded.” (Libasci, from Long Island NY, was installed in December.)
First, they want Libasci to oust the diocesan legal team and hire new lawyers. The gesture, they say, will be “a tangible sign” that the new bishop plans to improve on his predecessor’s track record on clergy sex crimes and cover ups. It’s possible, the groups say, that if Libasci does this, victims who may have had bad experiences with diocesan lawyers may step forward again and help identify potentially dangerous clerics. (Gordon MacDonald is one of the diocesan attorneys.)
Second, the organizations want Libasci to publicly endorse reforming New Hampshire’s “archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly” statute of limitations that prevent most child sex abuse victims from protecting kids and exposing child molesters through the secular justice system. Victims and advocates say this is “the single most effective way to warn families about predators” and give deeply wounded child sex abuse victims “their day in court.”
Finally, the groups want Libasci to do what roughly two dozen of his colleagues have done: post on their websites - for the sake of public safety - the names, whereabouts and priestly status of accusedchild molesting clerics who are or have been in the state. The organizations consider this a simple, inexpensive, common sense way to protect children and young people. (Last year, in response to repeated requests over years, two Massachusetts bishops - in Boston and Springfield – finally did this.)
According to a Boston-based independent research group called BishopAccountabilty.org, there are 90 publicly accused child molesting Catholic clerics (diocesan and religious order) who have worked in the Manchester diocese. SNAP notes that the actual number of accused priests is likely higher because BishopAccountability.org lists only those clerics against whom allegations have been made ‘public’ – in civil lawsuits, criminal prosecution or news accounts.
In 2009, then-Bishop John McCormack told the Union Leader he would “consider” posting the names. McCormack retired late last year without having done so.
In 2002, Baltimore became the first US diocese to disclose names. Even the much-maligned Philadelphia archdiocese has posted such a list: http://archphila.org/protection/Updates/update_main.htm. Here are all of the dioceses that have disclosed alleged predators’ names: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htmCONTACT – Barbara Blaine of Chicago 312 399 4747, firstname.lastname@example.org, Carolyn Disco of Merrimack NH 603 424 3120 home, 917 620 8172 cell, Anne Barrett Doyle of Reading MA 781 439 5208 David Clohessy of St. Louis MO314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com