CA - Catholic Archdiocese Admits Housing Child Molesters

For immediate release:
Sunday, Dec. 12, 2004

For more information:
Dan McNevin 415 341 3417
David Clohessy 314 566 9790
Terrie Light 510 517 3338

For the first time ever, San Francisco Catholic official is publicly admitting that the church houses known, suspected or admitted child molesting clergy.

According to today's San Jose Mercury News, "While most dioceses left suspended priests to find their own housing, the San Francisco archdiocese chose to keep its 17 suspended priests in church residences, said spokesman Maurice Healy." (SEE STORY BELOW)

The Oakland Diocese is currently under fire for allowing a religious order to secretly allow at least seven abusive clerics from western states to move into a church facility just a few dozen feet away from a public school. No neighbors were notified about the men. Oakland's Bishop Allen Vigneron was notified but chose to tell no one.

"Many Catholics may be upset to know their donations are going to support and house sex offenders," said Dan McNevin of Emoryville, Bay Area leader of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a support group. "But this is disturbing for another reason too. History has shown that church officials have a terrible track record protecting others from pedophile priests."

A few church leaders claim that it's better to keep abusive clerics on the payroll or in church facilities, so they can be monitored. This is faulty reasoning and these are not the only two options, SNAP feels.

The real solution, SNAP believes, is for Catholic officials to "aggressively reach out to victims and witnesses and beg them to contact law enforcement."

Some of the molesters can and should be criminally prosecuted, according to SNAP leaders.

"There's a reason we jail child molesters. It's the only sure way to keep kids safe," said McNevin. "But with church officials continuing to coddle them, and to encourage and participate in continued secrecy, these sex offenders are unlikely to ever be brought to justice."

Catholic lay people, he says, are not apt to "suddenly find the courage to break decades-old patterns and temptations to keep quiet" unless specifically and emphatically being told by church leaders that such silence is immoral and unhealthy.

"Let's be real. It's extremely hard for a devout parishioner who suspected or knew about abuse to finally, after years of doing nothing, call the police," said McNevin. "But that's precisely what needs to happen if children are to be safeguarded and justice is to be done."

RELATED STORY: Effort to Monitor Priests Falls Short

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