VT - Diocese was warned about predator priest; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Thanks to a brave abuse victim and a Vermont judge, 88 pages of long-secret Catholic church records about a predator priest have been released. The documents show why Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard and his lawyers fought so hard to keep Fr. Gary Mercure’s files secret. Those files show that Mercure “was returned to ministry — with no restrictions regarding his contact with children — even after the diocese [knew] he had a sexual affair with a young man in the early 1990s.”
The documents also reveal that “Mercure systematically stole money from church coffers and used it to lavish young men and boys with cash, gifts and living expenses as he brazenly maintained a sexually active, homosexual lifestyle for decades.” We can’t help but wonder how many current and former Catholic employees knew of or suspected these gifts – and why they were given – but chose to keep silent rather than report possible crimes to police.
Mercure's abuse of young boys began as early as the late 1970s, not long after Mercure was ordained as a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
Only about one sixth of the 500+ pages of church records about Fr. Mercure have been released, and Bishop Hubbard’s lawyers heavily redacted them. We suspect that the other 400+ pages contain equally horrific evidence of cover up by Bishop Hubbard, his staff and his predecessor.
We are grateful to the brave victim whose lawsuit is helping to reveal the truth about powerful Catholic men who commit and conceal heinous crimes against children. We hope his courage will inspire others who were hurt – by Fr. Mercure or other Albany-area clerics – to step forward, get help, call police and start healing.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.