INTL- Vatican move on Polish archbishop raises questions
For immediate release: Friday, June 27, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
It's encouraging when child molesting clerics are disciplined, but we are troubled by the Vatican's continued insistence on handling child sex crimes internally. Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski should face a criminal trial, not a church proceeding. And he should be in a secular jail. And he might have been in one for months, had Vatican officials cooperated with law enforcement.
Children are safest when predators are imprisoned. But just a few days ago a bishop reported seeing Wesolowski walking unsupervised in the Vatican. For all we know, Wesolowski could have molested a child last night.
Vatican officials claim they're “taking adequate measures” with Wesolowski now. We can't help but be skeptical, however. For decades, hundreds of Catholic officials have repeatedly claimed they were keeping predators away from children but later those claims were proven false and more children were assaulted.
Ask yourself: would you prefer that your child's rapist lose his job title or lose his freedom? Kids need us to focus on outcomes, not processes. If this Vatican move leads to Wesolowski being locked up, we'll be encouraged. However, we fear that it won't.
We fear that when Wesolowski is finally and formally defrocked, Vatican officials will say they can't order or extradite him to Poland or the Dominican Republic to face charges. It will be tragic if that happens.
Six months ago, the Associated Press said that this case “has raised questions about whether the Vatican, by removing him from Dominican jurisdiction, was protecting him and placing its own investigations ahead of that of authorities in the Caribbean nation.” (Polish secular authorities are also investigating Wesolowski.)
Those questions remain unanswered.
Some will speak enthusiastically about how “unprecedented” this move is. But there's nothing new about Catholic officials defrocking a child molesting cleric. (This is, we believe, only the second time that's happened with a bishop.) When the Vatican defrocks enabling church supervisors for ignoring and hiding child sex crimes that will be real progress.
And again, there's nothing new about Catholic officials rebuffing police and prosecutors – as they appear to be doing with Wesolowski - and refusing to let the secular justice system safeguard children.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years 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)