WA--New Spokane bishop takes office
Today, Spokane Catholics get a new bishop. We’re worried about how he’ll deal with clergy sex abuse cases.
Thomas Anthony Daly has spent time in the San Francisco archdiocese (26 publicly accused predator priests) and the San Jose diocese (12 publicly accused predator priests). He was promoted to head a seminary by the highly controversial and secretive Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco.
We call on Daly to immediately and aggressively reach out to anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or misdeeds by two priests:
1--Fr. Daniel Wetzler, a credibly accused predator priest who was quietly suspended in October 2014. Then-Bishop Blasé Cupich notified only his flock, not the public and refused to disclose when the allegations surfaced. He also urged other victims to call church officials, not secular authorities. And he made no mention of possible criminal prosecution or of the need for Catholics and citizens to share what they know about the priest with law enforcement. This is disturbing and reckless. We hope Daly will rectify this self-serving and hurtful behavior.
Child sex accusations should be made publicly as broadly and quickly as possible. Otherwise, child molesters are given more chances to intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistle-blowers, destroy evidence, fabricate alibis and even flee the country.
Daly should now say what Cupich should have said – widely and clearly –months ago: If you saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes by Fr. Wetzler, you have a moral and civic duty to call the independent, experienced professionals in law enforcement so that kids might be protected, Fr. Wetzler might be prosecuted and the church itself be more healthy and safe. You may think that by keeping quiet, you’re helping your parish, diocese or faith. But you are doing just the reverse. So please, find the courage to break your silence, safeguard innocent kids, and prevent future crimes.
2--Fr. Brad Reynolds, who (as of a few months ago) was still on the job at a Catholic college in the Spokane diocese even though
--eight years earlier, he was sued for molesting two boys in Alaska,
--he was removed from his duties by his Jesuit supervisors, and
--he was allegedly put under 24 hour surveillance at a Jesuit institution.
At least 39 Spokane priests have been publicly accused of child sexual abuse. That's a very high number for a relatively small diocese. Daly should go “above and beyond” the bare minimum of paying settlements and suspending predators and work harder to warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about these predators.
Spokane citizens and Catholics should not assume the Daly will be better on abuse than his predecessors. Complacency protects no one. Only vigilance protects kids.
We urge anyone who sees, suspects or suffers clergy sex crimes or cover ups in eastern Washington to call the independent, experienced professionals in law enforcement, not the self-serving amateurs in church offices.
We are not optimistic about how Daly will handle clergy sex crimes. We hope he proves us wrong.
(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)