IL--Victims deplore “full honors” funeral for complicit bishop
For immediate release: Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015
Statement by Kate Bochte, SNAP leader, Geneva IL 630-768-1860, [email protected]
Today, a deceased Joliet Catholic bishop will apparently be buried with “full honors” while dozens of church officials and hundreds of church members look on and quietly tolerate this hurtful injustice.
When we ignore wrongdoing, we encourage wrongdoing. And when Catholic officials, in 2015, keep treating their most disgraced complicit colleagues as heroes or saints, they encourage other church employees to ignore, conceal and enable child sex crimes and cover ups.
Several Penn State officials – including the school’s president and popular football coach - were fired or ousted for letting one perpetrator have continued to access children. Imesch did that for about two dozen perpetrators. Yet he remained in office, suffering no penalties whatsoever, and is being honored today with elaborate funeral proceedings.
It’s not just Penn State. All kinds of institutions hold the “top dog” responsible for wrongdoing he or she engaged in or even failed to stop. One institution is the exception: the Catholic church. And this is not changing.
Over decades, Imesch knowingly put hundreds of children at risk of sexual violence by quietly assigning perpetrator priests to parishes, repeatedly showing no concern for the safety of those children or compassion for those who were sexually violated. At best, he treated victims with disdain. At worst, he treated them as enemies.
(Almost 40 Joliet Catholic clerics are publicly accused child molesters: http://www.snapnetwork.org/il_joliet_bishop_passes_away_clergy_abuse_victims_react)
In the Bible we read “But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
If Jesus says a man like Imesch would be better off thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck, why are church members and officials praising and honoring him? Imesch’s fans are rubbing salt into the deep wounds of caring Catholics and suffering victims. They are sending a disturbing message to others in the church hierarchy: “No matter how much harm you do to children, don’t worry. We’ll stand by you to the end.” And they are sending a disturbing message to child sex abuse victims: “Your pain means nothing to us. We care only about protecting the reputation of powerful prelates.”
Thus, those who are leading and participating in this event today are perpetuating the same long-standing hurtful practices and showing the same on-going callousness that has enabled this crisis to fester for decades.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)