MA--Victims seek “action, not apology” from bishop
For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
Springfield’s bishop is issuing an apology when he should be protecting kids, exposing predators, punishing enablers and releasing abuse records. Tangible steps will do more to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded that all the words, gestures and apologies.
Bishop Mitchell Rozanski’s priorities are backwards. The actual safety of innocent kids trumps the purported return of wayward believers. There are 48 publicly accused Springfield area child molesting clerics. What’s Rozanski doing to help make sure they’re in treatment or supervised or being investigated, charged, prosecuted or kept away from kids today?
Bishops’ apologies often sound good but are largely public relations. They don't protect a single child, expose a single predator, punish a single concealer or deter a single cover up.
The diocese should take tangible steps so that the church no longer will need to give apologies. The goal should be no more victims.
Victims can heal from clergy sex crimes with or without bishops' words. Kids, however, cannot protect themselves from predator priests without bishops' actions. Rozanski should warn parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about two priests who molested in Springfield, are still priests now but live elsewhere, unsupervised, among unsuspecting families. They are
-- Fr. Albert J. “Al” Blanchard. A girl reported having been abused by Blanchard, church officials found her claims to be credible and Blanchard "accepted responsibility" for his behavior and agreed to stay away from minors. He went on to become a certified social worker and “help” street kids in the western Boston suburbs, according to BishopAccountability.org, an independent web-based archive.
In 2009, Blanchard was a volunteer in the Springfield diocese, as a co-leader of a support group for families of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. The support group included teenagers. Blanchard's victim complained to the diocese. The diocese did not remove Blanchard from the volunteer position until a news reporter called them a year after the victim's complaint. As recently as 2006, church officials let Blanchard teach CCD classes.
-- Fr. David M. Farland. Here’s what BishopAccountability.org reports about him: Permanently removed from ministry in 2002. Name not publicly released until 3/06. Accusation of abuse of a minor in the early 1990s, according to the diocese. The matter was handled internally by his superiors who removed Farland from any ministry with access to minors according to Diocesan spokesman. On medical leave in 1994. Last assignment was St. Michael's cathedral. Admin. process found allegations credible. Life of Prayer & Penance. May be living in RI
Rozanski should take immediate steps to alert police, prosecutors, parishioners, parents and the public about Fr. Farland and Blanchard. These two predator priests could be assaulting kids and young people today. They could be in Springfield today or this weekend, visiting old parishioners and hurting their kids.
With real outreach by Rozanski, Fr. Farland and Blanchard might even be prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned, sparing others decades of devastating pain.
(Rozanski may claim one or both of these priests have been defrocked. But changing a predator’s job title doesn’t change his or her actual behavior. Catholic officials can’t recruit, educate, ordain, hire, supervise, train, transfer and shield offenders but suddenly cut ties and deny responsibility once the offenders are caught. Rozanski is responsible for the safety of his flock. That includes warning his flock about those who assault kids and may do so again.)
Presumably, Rozanski’s letter is intended to bring healing. But wounded adults can heal themselves, with or without action by bishops. Innocent kids and vulnerable adults, however, cannot protect themselves from predators without action by bishops.
Rozanski should put announcements in every parish bulletin at the first opportunity, begging those who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Blanchard or Fr. Farland to step forward and call police.
We hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes in western Massachusetts will find the courage to speak up. We hope they’ll call the independent professionals in law enforcement, not the biased and often self-serving bureaucrats in church offices. And we hope they’ll seek independent sources of help, by confiding in therapists, social workers or support groups like ours.
By breaking their silence, victims, witnesses and whistleblowers can find healing, protect others, expose wrongdoers and deter cover ups.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)