AZ--Accused murderer was regular church volunteer;” Bishop must act, SNAP says
For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016
An accused murderer and ex-priest was “a regular church volunteer” in Phoenix, the Washington Post reports. In light of this revelation, it’s crucial that Bishop Thomas Olmsted break his silence, take decisive action and help prosecutors pursue Feit.
We call on Olmsted to disclose which local parish Feit volunteered at and who brought Feit to Phoenix and hired him at the St. Vincent de Paul Society. At the very least, this information will deter future recklessness.
We also call on Olmsted – and every Phoenix diocesan or parish employee – to beat the bushes, spread the word and seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes, and urge them to call 911.
With minimal effort, using cheap but effective communications tools like church websites, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements, Olmsted and church staff might turn up one more wounded person who is suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. Or they may find one victim or witness or whistleblower who could be the difference between success or failure in the criminal case against Feit.
This is what Jesus told us to do in the parable of the Good Shepherd: to go out into the cold, the dark and the rain to find that one lost, wounded sheep.
Feit was sent to New Mexico long before Olmsted was. So it’s no skin off Olmsted’s teeth to do this outreach. Even if it produced no results, the effort alone would burnish Olmstead’s image. There’s really little reason, besides timidity and tradition, for Olmsted to be passive and silent here, unless he’s afraid that a public plea will bring even more still-hidden clergy crimes or cover ups to the surface.
Olmsted isn’t the only bishop with an obligation for outreach here. Prelates in New Mexico, Texas and Missouri, where Feit also spent time, have this duty too.
Regardless of what Catholic workers do or don’t do, we in SNAP beg every single person who has any information or suspicions about Feit – no matter how small, old, vague or seemingly meaningless it might seem – to call police. That’s the least we can and should do to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded and expose the truth.
(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)