MI--Victims push archbishop to help with today’s abuse case

For immediate release: Wednesday, Feb. 25

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, davidgclohessy@gmail.com)

A Detroit Jesuit priest may plead guilty today to “secretly recording” teenagers in a locker room. Sadly, he has already pled guilty to sexually assaulting a child in Colorado. The question now is: What will Detroit’s archbishop do to find and help others he may have hurt?


If history is any guide, we suspect that Archbishop Allen Vignernon will do little or nothing.

Time and time again, for decades, when priests are charged with sex crimes, Catholic officials do little or nothing to help law enforcement prosecute these criminals. And often, these priests get top-notch defense lawyers, exploit legal technicalities, escape with light consequences or get off completely, and go on to hurt others.

Vigneron could chart a new course here and make a real difference. He could use his hundreds of church bulletins, parish websites and pulpits to seek out others who may have been harmed by Fr. Kurtz. He could write to all former University of Detroit Jesuit High School students and staff, begging anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Fr. Kurtz to call 911. He could assure his flock that cooperating with law enforcement is the right thing to do. He could help them understand that the church becomes safer and stronger when church staff and employees don’t ‘clam up’ when sex scandals emerge. And he could potentially make it easier and quicker for secular authorities to protect children by convicting Fr. Kurtz and making sure he gets a long sentence. All it takes is a little courage and effort by Vigneron.

Will Vigneron rise to the occasion and prove, by his actions, that he’s not like the vast majority of ‘bare minimum’ bishops who passively sit back and do nothing, leaving the full burden of safeguarding kids from a predator falls on police, prosecutors and victims?

We doubt it but we’d be thrilled to be proven wrong.

(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)

Contact - David Clohessy 314-566-9790, davidgclohessy@gmail.com, Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org, Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747, bblaine@SNAPnetwork.org, Bill McAlary of Grand Rapids, Michigan Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (616-514-0654, bllmack1@gmail.com)   

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