IN--Accused Notre Dame predator priest commits suicide; Victims respond
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 14, 2016
An accused predator priest, who was allowed to keep working for months despite being named in a lawsuit as an abuser, has taken his own life.
It’s tragic whenever anyone commits suicide. We grieve for Fr. Elizondo’s family. But we grieve even more for his victim or victims. (He was a Notre Dame professor for five years.)
We urge Fr. Elizondo’s supporters to show restraint and sensitivity. It will be tempting to publicly profess his innocence. But that’s callous and hurtful and will only deter other victims of sexual violence to remain trapped in silence, shame and self-blame.
We as adults face a simple choice. We can either make it easier for child sex abuse victims to come forward, or harder. Publicly rallying around Fr. Elizondo makes it harder. It makes the church more dangerous.
And we again urge Catholic officials to honor their “zero tolerance” and “one strike” pledges. After the lawsuit against Fr. Elizondo was filed, he should have been suspended pending an investigation. That did not happen. That is yet another reckless betrayal by Catholic officials.
Finally, we must, as a society, understand and accept the fact that most child predators are just like Fr. Elizondo: charming, charismatic, warm, outgoing and loveable. If they weren’t, no child would want to be near them and no parent would trust their child near them. The notion that child molesters are obvious creeps and social misfits is just wrong. Worse, it’s dangerous.
(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)