CO - New Colorado Catholic bishop named; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014
A high ranking Ft. Worth Catholic official, Msgr. Stephen Berg, is the new bishop of Pueblo. He takes over a diocese with a dismal record on children’s safety.
We hope that he will take decisive action to safeguard kids, instead of just posturing and promising the way most bishops do.
Specifically, we hope he will expose and punish Pueblo church staffers who ignored or concealed child sex crimes and aggressively seek out others who have been hurt by the 11 proven, admitted and credibly accused Pueblo clerics. (We suspect there are more pedophile priests’ whose identities have yet to be made public.)
But Berg’s first act in Pueblo should be to immediately announce that a convicted Pueblo predator priest now heads a church in North Carolina. For the safety of kids, Berg should insist that his colleagues in North Carolina disclose this fact too.
Two weeks ago, we in SNAP learned that William Groves is now the paid president of the Spiritual Life Center in Franklin North Carolina. For years, Catholic officials claim they didn’t know where he was.
In 1990, Groves pleaded guilty to one felony involving a 14 year old boy. In 2009, several men sued the Pueblo Diocese, saying that Groves molested them as kids.
Catholic bishops in each of the four states where Groves worked - starting with Berg in Pueblo and including Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas - should warn their flocks about him and aggressively reach out to anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered Grove’s crimes.
It’s irresponsible and selfish for bishops to recruit, educate, ordain, hire, train and protect predator priests, but do nothing when they’re caught and refuse to warn other vulnerable families about them.
Center newsletters show that Groves has been the congregation’s secretary and recently became its president.
Groves told several members of the North Carolina church that he is an ex-priest, though he claimed to have retired. Recently, Groves also told some at the Center that he wanted to start a children’s program at the church.
In Colorado, he worked with runaway Indian & Hispanic kids and reportedly also gave them drugs and alcohol. When he left Pueblo, he reportedly spent ten years working in Oklahoma as a chaplain at a drug and alcohol rehab center but was fired when his past became known.
Finally, a different child molesting Catholic cleric, one of America’s most notorious, also abused in Pueblo. He is Brother William Mueller, who now lives in Texas and assaulted dozens of kids in at least three states. We hope Berg will show real courage and compassion by working hard to find and help other Mueller victims who continue to suffer in silence, shame and self-blame.
Sadly, the culture of secrecy and cover up in Catholic dioceses is long-standing and tenacious. No matter who heads a particular diocese, it will take continued and increased vigilance and skepticism and courage to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
Regardless of who becomes a bishop anywhere, we hope that anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or other misdeeds will continue to come forward, call police, protect others and start healing.