IN--Victims back Indiana bishop’s bid for national office
For immediate release: Monday, Nov. 14, 2016
Victims back Indiana bishop’s bid for national office
They “vigorously oppose” candidate running against him
The world’s largest group of clergy sex abuse victims is backing a top Indiana Catholic official who’s running to head a national church abuse panel and opposing a Washington prelate who is also in the race.
Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette is battling Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima for the chairmanship of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.
Last week, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote Tyson asking him to abandon his race for the post. The group stresses that it knows little about Doherty but believes he’s likely “a tad better” than Tyson “when it comes to protecting the vulnerable and healing the wounded.”
“Frankly, we don’t know a ton about Doherty, in part because Indiana has a predator-friendly statute of limitations that helps keep child sex crimes and cover ups covered up,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “But Tyson’s a terrible choice.”
In 2013, Doherty held a meeting with parishioners whose pastor, Fr. Patrick R. Click, was accused of abuse.
SNAP says Tyson has “done virtually nothing to undo the damage that your predecessor did when he protected clergy who abused children,” nor done anything “above the legally required bare minimum, to safeguard kids.”
“It’s not necessarily that we’re convinced Doherty is much or even any better than his competition,” explained Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “But he may be a tad more amenable to reform that Tyson, who has clearly ignored or concealed clergy sex crimes.”
Regardless of the election results, the organization is urging the Doherty to “aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes” by Charles “Chuck” Cichanowicz, a former Franciscan priest who worked recently (or may still work) at a counseling center in Lafayette despite facing several child sex abuse lawsuits in New Mexico.
According to an independent research and archive group called BishopAccountability.org, there are eight publicly accused Lafayette diocesan priests: Fr. Kenneth Bohlinger, Fr. Donald Eder, Fr. James Grear, Fr. Robert E. Moran, Fr. Arthur A. Sego, Fr. Donald Tracey, Fr. Ronald J. Voss and Fr. Raymond H. Wieber.
When Tyson took over the diocese in 2011, SNAP publicly expressed hopes that he would “take immediate steps to warn Mexican families and officials about Deacon Aaron Ramirez and tell the full truth about allegations against Fr. Darrell Mitchell.” The group says Tyson did neither.
Ramirez was accused of abuse of a 17 year old boy in 1999.
Mitchell was accused of having nude pictures of boys on his computer in 2003.
“As best we can tell, Tyson has ignored our pleas,” said Clohessy.
In 2014, SNAP criticized Tyson for quietly putting Mitchell, who had been suspended twice, back into parish work.
In 2012, SNAP warned Washington residents about a former Yakima lay minister and boys’ choir director, James Moritz, who was quietly accused of molesting two Yakima area brothers. As recently as 2008, Moritz was working at a parish in New York.
“In light of all of this – deceit, callousness, inaction – we feel Tyson shouldn’t even be running for this post,” said Clohessy. “We hope he’ll reverse his decision, stay home, and focus first on safeguarding his flock rather than on padding his resume.”
With reservations, SNAP supports the election of Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville as the overall head of the bishops’ group. The victims “vigorously oppose” the election of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is the USCCB’s current vice-chair and is considered to be the front runner for the post.
“It’s not necessarily that we’re convinced Flores is much or even any better than his competitors,” explained Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “He may be a tad more amenable to reform that these other men, each of whom has clearly ignored or concealed clergy sex crimes.”
SNAP is also disappointed, that Flores – like most of his peers – refuses to post on church websites the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
But SNAP believes the other candidates are worse than Flores.
SNAP also “vehemently opposes” any position for Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who has “used deceitful and mean-spirited tactics to block child sex abuse reforms in legislatures in Colorado and Pennsylvania.”
Besides DiNardo, Chaput, and Flores, the other nominees include: Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe.