Abuse survivors group wants Egan Mass for youths canceled

By Ed Stannard

March 11, 2014

A retired cardinal accused of covering up sexual abuse by priests will celebrate a Mass with 200 youthful choir members on Saturday.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests would like that not to happen. 

Cardinal Edward M. Egan will celebrate at the Pueri Cantores Children’s Choir Festival, held at St. Ignatius of Loyola Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan. According to the church’s bulletin, more than 200 choristers “from the tri-state area” will take part. 

Egan has been accused of failing to remove priests accused of sexual abuse when he was bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000. He was appointed archbishop of New York and retired in 2009.

SNAP is calling for Cardinal Timothy Dolan to cancel Egan’s appearance. Egan “continues to enjoy a position of honor and prominence” and “when you essentially honor (him) and ignore wrongdoing, you encourage more wrongdoing,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s national director.

Clohessy said Egan is “really among the very worst” of bishops who failed to remove priests who molested children from ministry.

“This should be a no-brainer,” Clohessy said. “The first job of a doctor is to do no harm and that should be Dolan too. It takes only a smidgen of courage to say to his predecessor, let’s err on the side of caution and sensitivity.”

Egan has denied any lack of action on his part. In a February 2012 interview with Connecticut Magazine, he said, “You know, I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). Not one.” He said he resolved cases that occurred under his predecessor by sending at least five priests to treatment. 

“Those whom I could prove, I got rid of; those whom I couldn’t prove, I didn’t. But I had them under control,” Egan told the magazine.

According to a 2009 story in the New York Times, Egan wrote to parishioners in 2002, saying, “If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.” 

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York called SNAP’s protest “absurd. Cardinal Egan never covered up abuse. That’s a falsehood and an outrageous statement.”

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