KS- New bishop part of “disturbing decisions,” SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 20
Statement by Barbara Dorris of SNAP (314 503 0003)
The new Catholic bishop of Wichita has, for more than a decade, been part of a team of church officials that has made disturbing decisions in clergy sex cases.
Since 2002, Msgr. Carl Kemme of the Springfield, IL diocese has been basically the second-in-command and actually ran the diocese for months in between bishop appointments. During those years, diocesan staff made a number of worrisome decisions. Here are two from just the past year.
– They temporarily let an accused child molesting cleric, Fr. Robert “Bud” DeGrand, resign from his posts, instead of suspending him, after delaying for a week after the diocesan abuse panel quietly urged them to oust Fr. DeGrand. They used vague, misleading language – like “misconduct” - to describe alleged child sex crimes, hoping to soften the horror of sexual assaults on children by clergy.
– They put Fr. Thomas Donovan back on the job after he'd been found by police to be wearing an orange jumpsuit and “a leather bondage-type mask with a bar in his mouth” (A church therapist allegedly diagnosed him as having engaged in "non-sexual self-bondage.")
Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. So we are not optimisitic that he will take real steps to reform long-standing, deeply rooted patterns of irresponsible, self-serving behavior by bishops in this on-going crisis.
Diocese of Wichita gets a new bishop, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 20
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Msgr. Carl Kemme of Springfield IL is the new bishop of Wichita.
We hope that he will do a better job protecting the vulnerable, healing the wounded and exposing the truth about clergy sex crimes and cover ups than his predecessor, Bishop Jackels did.
Wichita Catholic officials have handled clergy sex crimes poorly.
For example, in 2001 F. Robert Larson, pled guilty to abusing four boys. He was accused of abusing as many as 17, five of who committed suicide. Fr. Larson is still a priest on the diocesan payroll.
In 2005, a woman accused a priest of abuse and sent a letter to then Bishop Michael Jackels. Jackels' callous remarks were dismissive and potentially dangerous. And Jackels' quietly sent the predator, Fr. Nicholas Voelker, to work at a parish in Missouri, warning no one about him (just like bishops have recklessly and callously done with predators for decades).
Catholic officials’ silence and indifference in these matters has hurt victims, prevents others from coming forward, and may have allowed dangerous predators to abuse more kids.
We hope that Bishop Kemme will reverse the hurtful trend of his predecessors and instead tackle sex crimes against children head on, and do everything in his power to keep his congregation informed. One action he can take to immediately make Kansas kids safer would be to post a list of all credibly accused child molesting clerics on his diocesan website. Roughly 30 other bishops have taken this simple public safety step. (Here is the list of them: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/diocesan_and_order_lists.htm )
(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 15,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, email@example.com), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, firstname.lastname@example.org)