MA- Victims challenge new Fall River Catholic bishop
For immediate release: Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Tomorrow, Fall River Catholics officially get a new bishop.
Because he comes from a dreadfully scandal-ridden archdiocese, we are highly skeptical about how he'll protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. So we respectfully challenge Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha to break the unhealthy and growing silence and inaction among the Catholic hierarchy on the church's on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis.
Despite repeated pledges to be “open and transparent” about predator priests, nearly the entire church hierarchy discloses virtually nothing about these crimes or cover ups unless forced to do so by public pressure or the actions victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors courts or journalists.
Da Cunha is from the Newark Archdiocese with 42 publicly identified predator priests and a long, shameful history of protecting child molesting clerics over innocent, vulnerable children. That history continues to the present day.
As best we can tell, da Cunha has shown no real courage or compassion in one of the worst archdioceses in the US for clergy sex abuse victims. We see no evidence that he has ever said or done a single thing to break with the self-serving and irresponsible actions of his Newark colleagues, who continue to put kids in harm's way and maintain secrecy at all costs.
Catholic officials claimed that this is about being sensitive to victims. It's not. Their use of the phrase "negative publicity" shows their true intent: it's about keeping predator priests out of the news. Church officials know that every time a child molesting cleric is mentioned in public, other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers might step forward. Preventing such disclosures continues to be a top priority in the Catholic hierarchy, especially in Newark.
The list of clergy sex abuse and cover up cases in New Jersey that have been handled in a dreadful way is long. Perhaps the two worst are those involving Fr. Michael Fugee and Fr. Carmine Sita.
--Fugee admitted molesting a boy, but recanted. In a plea deal, Newark Catholic officials agreed to keep him away from kids. But last year, the Star Ledger found that archdiocesan staff broke that agreement.
--Sita admitted molesting a New Jersey boy, legally changed his name (to Jerry Howard) and was quietly sent to a Missouri parish where he pled guilty just a few weeks ago to molesting three more boys.
Two other accused Newark clerics are still on the job: Fr. Pecklers and Fr. Granstrand.
Other troubling Newark cases involve these clerics: Fr. Chabak, Fr. Capparelli, and Fr. Kenneth L. Martin.
In light of all this, we hope that Fall River's new bishop will step out of the unhealthy mold of his colleagues and take even one proactive, practical step toward protecting one child, exposing one predator, or punishing one enabler.
We also hope that Fall River citizens and Catholics will treat their new auxiliary bishop with considerable skepticism. We strongly suspect that he will continue the long-standing and deeply rooted self-serving patterns of secrecy that have long plagued the Catholic hierarchy in child sex cases.
(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)