A Letter to Cardinal Dolan

Here is a letter being sent today to Cardinal Tim Dolan, head of the New York archdiocese:

(NOTE: At 1:30 today, SNAP is holding a news conference about this outside St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue in Manhattan.)

October 1, 2013

Dear Cardinal Dolan:

We are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable. We believe you are acting irresponsibly regarding Deacon Al Mazza.

On Sunday, you ousted Mazza from his post because of substantiated child sex abuse allegations. But you admit waiting months to do so. You won’t say when police gave information about the predator to you or your staff. And in a letter to parishioners on Sunday and a news release yesterday, you claim you suspended the deacon months ago but offer no proof of having done this.

Let’s take each of these separately.

First, undisputed media accounts say that the child sex abuse allegations against Mazza were given to you by police because the statute of limitations precluded prosecution. Obviously, independent, unbiased and experienced law enforcement found them credible. So why didn’t you publicly disclose those allegations – quickly and widely – right away? Every day a credibly accused child molester continues “under the radar,” he has more chances to hurt kids, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers, destroy evidence, fabricate alibis and even flee the country.  Through your silence, you have helped a child molester and endangered innocent children.

Second, why won’t you disclose exactly how long you sat on these allegations? When did police tell you and your staff about them? How can this secrecy be considered being “open and transparent?”

Third, if you did indeed suspend Mazza months ago, why did you do so with such secrecy? Why did you take pains to do so as quietly as possible, notifying the smallest group of people possible – only his current parishioners? (We find nothing on line anywhere indicating that Mazza was suspended. In fact, we find his Mazza’s name still in the parish bulletin September 8 and 15 and 22 and still on the parish website as of yesterday.)

Furthermore, as you know, Mazza is at least the third cleric at Holy Name of Mary church in Croton-on-Hudson to be credibly accused of child sex crimes. In your letter to parishioners there, you refused to name the other two: Fr. Gennaro L. “Jerry” Gentile and Fr. Kenneth A. Jesselli. How is that being “open and transparent?”

We believe parishioners, parents and the public deserve straight answers about this case from you, especially in light of your repeated pledges to be “open and transparent” about clergy child sex cases. We want you to hold an open meeting at the predator’s parish and take questions from the public.

You have, in our view, a civic and moral duty to use your vast resources (pulpit announcements, church websites, parish bulletins, archdiocesan website and your incredible bully pulpit) to “aggressively seek out others with information or suspicions” about all three men and “prod them to call police and prosecutors, so they might be convicted, imprisoned and kept away from kids.” You make no mention –neither in your letter to parishioners nor in your news release – about criminal prosecution. (In fact, in what we believe is a self-serving move, you ask people with information to call a nun, a priest and a deacon, making no mention of law enforcement.)

We look forward to hearing from you. Even more, we look forward to taking the “definitive” action you claim to take in child sex cases but really do NOT take.

Mary Caplan 917-439-4187, [email protected], Megan Peterson 218-689-9049, [email protected], David Clohessy 314 566 9790, [email protected]

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