Hart, Bransfield and Neinstedt should be Treated like McCarrick, SNAP says

No one really knows where three credibly abusive Catholic bishops are now. For the safety of innocent children and vulnerable adults, we call on church officials to insist the clerics live in the same remote Kansas friary where disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is now.

Those three clerics WV Bishop Michael Bransfield, WY Bishop Joseph A. Hart and MN Archbishop John Neinstedt, none of whom are still on the job and all of whom face multiple accusers. Church officials essentially forced Bransfield and Neinstedt out. And police have recommended that Hart be prosecuted.

When a abuser is suspended or gets older, he’s not magically cured, so even after ousting or even defrocking sex offending clerics, the Catholic hierarchy has a duty to safeguard others from them.

And church officials can’t recruit, educate, ordain, hire, supervise, transfer and shield these men only to suddenly cut them loose, providing no oversight or supervision, and let them quietly live among unsuspecting families. When this happens, abusers can pass themselves off as ‘retired’ clerics and befriend vulnerable adults and kids.

At least some in Victoria, Kansas know, because of good journalism, that an abuser lives in their midst. And at least McCarrick is far away from the families in Washington D.C. and New Jersey, some of whom likely consider him cured or falsely accused and would trust him around their kid, teens and young adults.

So for those reasons, we believe Bransfield Hart and Neinstedt should live there too. 

It would be better, of course, if men who hurt children and vulnerable adults were sent to jail instead of to retirement. But until secular aws are reformed, we have to do the best we can with what we have. And until then, we believe that such abusers who cannot be prosecuted should be forced to live in remote facilities under the careful watch of trained, independent professionals (not fellow clerics).

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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