A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking New York’s Cardinal Tim Dolan to disinvite one of his controversial colleagues who is set to preach tomorrow at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Dolan about Cardinal Justin Rigali, the now-retired head of the Philadelphia archdiocese. Rigali has been blasted by prosecutors for keeping dozens of accused clerics on the job as recently as last year despite child sex abuse allegations against him.http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/pope-taps-chaput-philadelphia
In a letter to Dolan, sent today by fax and email, SNAP says “For the sake of thousands of wounded victims and hundreds of thousands of betrayed Catholics – many of whom are still suffering - we hope you will rescind that invitation. It sends a depressing and chilling message – that wrongdoers in the church hierarchy will continue being rewarded, no matter how many children they put at risk.”
A copy of SNAP’s letter is below:
April 4, 2012
Dear Cardinal Dolan;
Twice in just a few days, you have rubbed salt into already deep and still fresh wounds of hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse and thousands of Catholics who rightfully feel betrayed by the church hierarchy’s continuing recklessness, callousness and deceit in this on-going crisis.
On your blog on Monday, April 2, you repeatedly sang the praises of your predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan. You made no mention of his work - in both Connecticut and New York - concealing child sex crimes. You ignored his recent interview in Connecticut Magazine, in which he retracted perhaps the worst so-called "apology" we've ever seen during this decades-long scandal.
And just last week, noted Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo (of “Whispers in the Loggia”) reported that you plan to bring disgraced Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia to St. Patrick's Cathedral to preach tomorrow.
For the sake of thousands of wounded victims and hundreds of thousands of betrayed Catholics – many of whom are still suffering - we hope you will rescind that invitation. It sends a depressing and chilling message – that wrongdoers in the church hierarchy will continue being rewarded, no matter how many children they put at risk.
Tens of thousands of Catholic clerics could preach in St. Pat's tomorrow. Almost any of them would be less upsetting and hurtful than Rigali.
Nine years after bishops promised to "reform," Rigali, under pressure, was forced to suspend 21 accused Philly priests on one day in March of 2011. These suspensions took place exactly one month after Rigali wrote his flock assuring them that there were no credibly-accused priests remaining in his archdiocese. In 2005, Rigali kept silent as his lawyer blasted prosecutors as “anti-Catholic” in the wake of a second scathing report about widespread clergy sex crimes and cover ups in his archdiocese.
We urge you to disinvite Rigali. Doing so would send a powerful and positive message to church staff and members: Ignoring, concealing and enabling child sex crimes is wrong and won’t be tolerated, praised or rewarded.
Your insensitive behavior here is eerily reminiscent of last year, when a 16 year old girl in your own archdiocese reported being molested three times by her Bronx pastor and employer, Fr. Jaime Duenas. Even after police arrested the priest, you posted on your personal blog a harsh statement about the girl, questioning why she returned to her job at the parish even after she’d been assaulted. (http://blog.archny.org/?p=1556).
Why do you keep acting in ways that heap more pain on those already in pain? Why do you continue taking steps that further drive the still-suffering into more depression and helplessness? Have you not heard Pope Benedict implore bishops to “do everything possible” to help deeply devastated victims of child molesting clerics heal? How does honoring one of your most clearly complicit colleagues square with the Pope’s admonition?
Time is short, but we hope you will show courage and compassion and rescind your invitation to Cardinal Rigali today.
Executive Director, SNAP