VT--VT bishop takes national position; victims urge “openness”
For immediate release: Friday, Nov. 20, 2015
This week, Vermont Bishop Christopher Coyne takes charge of communication for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. What irony: He takes over during the week that a film called 'Spotlight' opens nationally. That movie depicts horrific deceit and corruption in the Boston Archdiocese, where Coyne worked as Cardinal Bernard Law’s primary mouthpiece, a post he held from 2002-2005. (See Rocco Palmo’s blog “Whispers in the Loggia.”)
Pope Francis should never have promoted Coyne. Coyne’s brother bishops should have never given him this post. But now that he’s in this position, Coyne must lead by example and, at a bare minimum, do what 30 US bishops have reluctantly done: post names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics on his diocesan website.
For years in Boston, time and time again, Coyne repeated deceptive public relations spin about heinous child sex crimes and callous cover ups by Law and other Catholic officials. How does this qualify Coyne to lead America’s bishops?
While a bishop in Indiana, we prodded Coyne to aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen crimes by Fr. Francis Markey who was arrested by US marshals at his Indiana home in connection with the alleged rape of a 15-year-old boy twice, including the day of the boy's father's funeral.
As best we can tell, he ignored our request.
And he’s done nothing - in Boston or Indianapolis or Burlington - that gives us any hope he’ll do any better on children’s safety in the future.
So we urge Vermont Catholics and citizens to be skeptical and vigilant and report known or suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to secular authorities, not church officials.
And we urge Coyne to show that he’s capable of real leadership, not just PR spin, by posting predators’ names, photos and work histories on the Vermont diocesan website, to keep kids safe, help victims heal and deter more cover ups
In his new post, Coyne will no doubt extol the virtues of “openness.” He must practice those virtues too. And he must start in the most critical area: the protection of children from predator priests.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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)