IA--Group blasts IA bishop for helping predator but ignoring victims
For immediate release: Tuesday, Jan. 27
Des Moines’ Catholic bishop is urging victims of a predator priest to call church officials. That’s wrong. And it’s disturbing to see how well the bishop cares for the needs of the offender while largely ignoring his victims.
Anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups should call secular authorities, not church figures. Bishop Robert Pates knows this. By urging victims to call his staff, Pates is continuing the incredibly hurtful and selfish patterns Catholic officials have engaged in for decades, patterns that endanger kids, deceive parishioners, protect predators and enable them to hurt more kids.
We give no credence to Pates’ claim that Fitzgerald's counselor purportedly says “he is no threat to broader society.” We challenge Pates to make that therapist’s report public. And we’ve seen hundreds of cases in which church-hired counselors turn out to be wrong and ousted priests molest again.
What matters most is the safety of kids, not the opinion of one shrink. Kids are safe when predators like Fitzgerald are jailed. And that will more likely happen when Pates stops trying to mollify and minimize, and starts using his vast church resources to prod victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call 911.
Pates’ first obligation is to safeguard kids, not to reassure adults. He should use church bulletins, parish websites, and pulpit announcements to beg anyone with information or suspicions about Fitzgerald to call law enforcement immediately.
Finally, when we consider how church officials often shun victims, it’s galling to read about how considerate and helpful Pates is being toward a credibly accused child molester. Pates says that Fitzgerald “will be granted three months separation compensation and will have the opportunity to work at a secular job until retirement,” get “Social Security and retirement benefits of the diocese” and his mail forwarded. (“Anyone wishing to contact Mr. Fitzgerald should do so through the Catholic Pastoral Center and the communication will be forwarded to him.”) Pates seems to be showing far more concern and compassion for the offender and little real concern or compassion for his victims.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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)