Group warns about just arrested priest
Group fears others have been hurt by Fr. Richard James Kurtz
Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2011
Statement by Matt Jatczak, [email protected] 248 252 5410, Director of Detroit SNAP
We are clergy sex abuse victims and supporters. We belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
Our hearts go out to the boy who was sexually assaulted by Fr. Richard James Kurtz. And our hearts go out to current and former students and staff at U of D Jesuit, and at Loyola University in Chicago. It’s terribly upsetting to learn that school and church officials have kept silent for a decade about credible child sex abuse allegations, keeping unsuspecting families in the dark and putting innocent kids at risk.
Despite a decade of promises to be “open” about child sex crimes, officials at five Catholic institutions (the Detroit Archdiocese, U of D Jesuit, the Chicago Archdiocese, Loyola University and the Jesuits) have essentially ***put their reputation ahead of the safety of children.
In a disingenuous statement on the U of D Jesuit website. Fr. Karl Kiser, the president of U of D Jesuit, claims “When learning of this incident over a decade ago, the school reacted immediately.” That’s half right. The Jesuits “reacted immediately” by keeping the accusation quiet.
Kiser claims that the school “will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure our students’ safety.” Really? Then why didn’t he alert families and staff and the public about the child sex abuse allegations against a U of D Jesuit staffers? Wouldn’t that have helped “ensure our students’ safety.”
Instead, because of the secrecy of church and school officials, a child predator was given another decade to prey on kids.
Vigneron will try to split hairs, make excuses, and do little or nothing. He’ll try to pass the buck to the Jesuits. But again, church history, structure, policy and practice all say that Vigneron has responsibility here. We suspect he learned of these allegations months or years ago. But even if he didn’t, he still has a moral obligation to help police and prosecutors convict Fr. Kurtz – or others at University of Detroit Jesuit High School –for child sex abuse other crimes.
Religious orders like the Jesuits operate in an archdiocese with the permission of the local archbishop. And the local archbishop is responsible for the safety and well-being of all Catholics in his archdiocese.
So we believe that Catholic Archbishop Vigneron has a moral and civic duty to seek out and help others who may have seen, suspected or suffered Kurtz’s crimes.
It’s simply wrong for church and school officials to keep quiet about credible child sex abuse allegations month after month, year after year. Such callous and irresponsible secrecy and delay gives ample time for corrupt church and school officials to intimidate victims, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, fabricate alibis, and destroy evidence.
This inexcusable situation raises an obvious, troubling question – how many other accusations of child sex crimes against how many other Detroit area priests, nuns, seminarians and other church employees are being kept secret, even now, by how many other Detroit area Catholic officials?
The case is eerily similar to one in Kansas City, where top Catholic officials kept silent this year about a priest’s child porn photos – hundreds of them – for at least five months. These cases - along with equally disturbing ones in Joliet Illinois and Philadelphia PA – prove that little if any real reform” has taken place in the Catholic hierarchy.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])