For immediate release: Thursday, June 27
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)
In a predictable move, Milwaukee’s archbishop posted a blog today in which he again tries to obscure the truth and deceive parishioners and the public about clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
A centerpiece of Archbishop Jerome Listecki’s public relations effort is his claim that Catholic officials did “their best with what they knew at the time.” He suggests that it was largely ignorance that led Milwaukee church supervisors to ignore, minimize, hide and enable horrific crimes against children.
The documents will prove that they did know better. Archdiocesan officials consistently refused to call police or notify parishioners about known and suspected clergy child sex crimes. Church officials are smart, well-educated men guided by expensive lawyers. They have known, for decades, that child sex abuse was illegal. They have known, for decades, that parishioners deserved to know if their pastor, priest or teacher was a child molester.
Yet they insisted on protecting themselves, their reputations and their clerical careers by intimidating victims, threatening whistleblowers, discrediting witnesses, ignoring police, stonewalling prosecutors, lobbying to defeat child abuse protection laws, and deceiving parishioners while paying secret settlements and quietly transferring predators.
Listecki states that “Terrible things happened to innocent children.” That’s obvious. But its sheer deception to imply that these were somehow unforeseeable tragedies that couldn’t be prevented. They were not. These were horrific crimes committed by twisted priests and concealed and enabled by Catholic officials. For decades, they were handled by church staff and defense lawyers and public relations experts
And Listecki is wrong when he claims “People were ill-equipped to respond -- to victims and families, and to perpetrators.” Police and prosecutors were well-equipped to respond. But Milwaukee church officials refused to notify them.
Soon, because of brave and persistent victims, thousands of pages of long-secret church records about predator priests will be made public. When that happens, we hope Catholics and citizens will read them, ignoring the carefully crafted spin that Listecki continues to put out designed to minimize the inexcusable recklessness and callousness of dozens of his colleagues and supervisors.