AK--Catholic bishop slammed by victims
For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016
Juneau Bishop Edward Burns is a poor choice to head the Dallas diocese. Pope Francis continues to promote clerics who share his personal leadership style and sadly, his lack of action on children’s safety.
Until last month, Juneau Bishop Edward Burns headed the US bishops sex abuse committee. For years, he had tangible power to protect kids. As best we can tell, he did little or nothing in that post. For years, he has an enormous bully pulpit. He could have used it to exhort church staff to act responsibly. As best we can tell, he never did.
Instead, he postured. He claimed, in an interview, he was “shocked” by an Altoona PA grand jury report that showed the same horrific cover ups that virtually every other US grand jury reported in every diocese that was investigated.
Never mind Burns’ national failure. He controls his own diocese. Here again, however, he’s done nothing more than the bare minimum that’s required of him regarding abuse.
About 30 US bishops have posted predators’ names on their website. Burns refuses to do so.
PennLive summarized the most alarming part of the Altoona grand jury report. This is the part that Burns should focus on fixing – in his own diocese and across the US - instead of claiming “shock” and professing sadness:
The bishop controlled the Allegation Review Board.
Bishop Adamec created the Allegation Review Board to allegedly determine the credibility of an allegation of abuse.
However, the purpose of creating the board, the grand jury said, was to convince people that the days of a mysterious bishop deciding how to handle a scandalous and heinous report of child molestation were over.
"In reality, the bishop still exclusively makes the decision how or what to do with a report of child molestation," the grand jury said. "Nothing has changed but the trappings of how a report is procedurally made."
The grand jury said victims who believed they were reporting to a board of unbiased and neutral observers "would be sadly mistaken."
Diocesesan 'victim advocate' looked out for the church, not the victims.
The grand jury concluded, upon interviews with victims and reviews of documents, that the diocese "victim advocate" is an advocate for the diocese against the interest of the victims. The victim advocate was identified as Sister Marilyn Welch.
"Where the advocate can shuffle a victim into the Allegation Review Board without the involvement of legal representation for a victim, she does so," the grand jury reported.
"Money is offered. Confidentiality and release claims are signed by victims and the diocese to avoid public scrutiny."
Decisive action protects kids, not public relations pablum. It’s long past time when Catholic officials, especially Bishop Burns, should take decisive steps to expose predators, punish enablers and protect kids.
Finally, let us do here what Burns and his brother bishops refuse to consistently or effectively do: Please, if you saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups – in Alaska or anywhere – speak up. Protect kids by calling police, not church officials. Start healing by calling therapists and getting help from independent sources, not church officials. Expose wrongdoers by calling journalists, not church officials.
No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches, schools or other institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)