ME--Victims blast Maine bishops’ secrecy
For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 25
Maine parishioners deserve more details than they’re getting from their bishop about a priest who reportedly committed a “boundary violation.”
A short, vague statement on the Portland diocesan website notes that Fr. Joseph W. Cahill has asked to step down as the pastor of both Our Lady of the Snows Parish (St. Anne Church, Dexter; St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Dover-Foxcroft; SS Francis Xavier & Paul the Apostle Church, Milo) “as the result of a boundary violation. . .that did not involve a minor nor any illegal activity.”
We find it hard to believe Bishop Robert P. Deeley is being fully honest here.
He refuses to even say what a “boundary violation” is, much less disclose that Fr. Cahill did. Did he sexually exploit adult parishioners who sought counseling from him? Was he caught giving backrubs to youngsters who had just turned 18? Given the Catholic church’s long, sordid, widespread and well-documented history of clergy committing and concealing sexual crimes and misdeeds, we believe skepticism is appropriate and complacency is dangerous.
Bishops often talk of persuading parishioners to trust them again. Yet bishops act in ways that undermine trust in them.
Deeley is doing what bishops have done for decades: disclosing the absolute bare minimum and hoping that attention will soon fade and everyone just moves on.
He hopes that parents, parishioners and the public will just assume that Catholic officials are acting properly with Fr. Cahill. We strongly doubt that this is true.
We urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or misdeeds or cover ups in Maine – involving Cahill or other clerics – to speak up, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.
(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)