CA--Victims blast Archdiocese’s move to “clear” accused priest
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 14
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, [email protected])
Quietly and with little explanation, LA Catholic officials have reversed themselves on a twice-accused predator priest. That priest has now been put back to work. This is incredibly reckless.
In a 120 word statement printed on April 10 in the LA archdiocesan newspaper, church officials now claim “there is no reason to preclude Father John H. Wadeson from serving in priestly ministry” and he is a “priest in good standing.”
In the 1970s, he was accused of molesting two kids.
Years ago, the LA archdiocese listed him as “credibly accused” and banned him from ministry.
Last year, the San Francisco Archdiocese withdrew his priestly privileges.
Last year, an archdiocese in Guam suspended him.
But now, Archbishop Jose Gomez thinks Fr. Wadeson is OK to put in a parish around kids. And Guam’s archbishop apparently agrees. Shame on both of them.
The statement by the LA archdiocese says that last year, “at the request of Father Wadeson a reexamination of the matter was conducted.” We fear that dozens of credibly accused child molesting clerics will now start asking their bishops to “re-examine” their cases and that some of them will find a more sympathetic hearing before church officials desperate to fill empty positions. If even one credibly accused predator priest, nun, brother, seminarian or bishop gets a job around kids again, based on such a “re-examination” by another bishop, that will be a travesty.
Years ago, reluctantly and belatedly, under tremendous pressure, Los Angles Catholic officials publicly released the names of hundreds of proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests. As best we can tell, until now, they've never gone backwards and said “We were wrong about this guy. We should have never listed him as 'accused.'”
In fact, we don't know of a single Catholic official on the planet who has disclosed child sex abuse allegations against a priest who has later said "Oops, I made a mistake. I shouldn't have done that."
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: At least four church officials must step up here, tell the truth about Fr. Wadeson.
First, San Francisco Archbishop Cordileone should tell what he knows about these allegations and explain why Fr. Wadeson was apparently allowed to work as a priest there even though he was ousted elsewhere. Not one of his aides. Not one of his spokespersons. But the archbishop himself.
Second, the Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez should explain, in detail, why LA officials banned Fr. Wadeson from ministry and why he’s now reversing this decision. He should release all necessary documents, post them on his website, and keep them there.
Third, the Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron should explain why he let a credibly accused child molesting cleric work unchecked in his archdiocese and why he suspended him this past year.
Fourth, the head of the religious order to which Wadeson belongs – the Divine Word Missionaries - should explain this situation in detail and take steps to ensure Fr. Wadeson does not present himself as a priest.
We believe each of these prelates has a moral and civic duty to use their websites, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Wadeson to call police immediately.
And it should go without saying – but we'll stress it here – that US bishops pledged “zero tolerance” of abuse and “one strike and you're out.”
They did NOT pledge “zero tolerance” only if there's a “formal complaint” or a “settlement offered,” or a “settlement made.” So these phrases by Catholic officials are irrelevant dodges.
There's one WORST course of action here. It's the one that's most tempting for each prelate. It's the one we most commonly see in cases like this. It's the one that breaks every real promise made by bishops for the past decade or more, especially the promise to put kids’ safety first and be transparent about clergy sex crimes. And it's the one that most endangers kids.
It's saying or doing nothing.
For each of these prelates, that's dreadfully reckless and callous.
But regardless of what Catholic officials do or don’t do, they aren't the only ones with power in this situation. Every single church employee or member – past and present – has power too. They can bring up Fr. Wadeson's name to friends, family, and colleagues. They can warn parents and parishioners about him. They can ask loved ones and acquaintances “Did you ever spend time around Fr. Wadeson? If so, did he hurt you or did you see something suspicions? If so, will you please call police or prosecutors right away?”
That will help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. The real power and responsibility lie with Catholic officials. But even custodians and secretaries and lay people can – and should – spread the word and protect kids by warning people about Fr. Wadeson.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 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)