MN--Archdiocese & prosecutor reach deal
For immediate release: Wednesday, July 20
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, [email protected])
We remain convinced that John Choi could and should have filed criminal charges against individual complicit Catholic officials, not Catholic institution, especially had he acted sooner and more aggressively. We’re disappointed that well-educated, self-serving church bureaucrats have again spent parishioners’ donations on high-priced lawyers and are successfully evading consequences for repeatedly and callously putting children in harms’ way so they could protect their clerical careers and reputations.
Wrongdoing is deterred when wrongdoers are punished. But not one Twin Cities Catholic official is being punished – in the courts or in the church – for repeatedly deceiving parishioners, moving predators, hiding evidence, stone-walling police or endangering kids.
We know that law enforcement has limited resources and child safety laws are outdated and Catholic officials defend themselves vigorously.
Still, the old saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” applies here. Across the country, for nearly three decades, we’ve seen police and prosecutors slowly becoming more determined and creative at pursuing even older child sex crimes and cover ups when they put their minds to it and put aside their timidity. We’ve seen law enforcement staff become more vigorous and savvy in their outreach efforts to find more victims, witnesses and whistleblowers. We wish more of that had happened here.
Some say a settlement between Choi and archdiocesan officials will result in the disclosure of secret church records about crimes and cover ups. We hope so. But disclosure alone doesn’t deter. Discipline is what deters. And despite 30+ years of devastating and widely-documented scandal, virtually no Catholic official has lost even one day’s pay no matter how deceitfully or recklessly he acted with pedophile priests and vulnerable kids or wounded victims.
(A handful of the world’s 5,000 bishops have voluntarily resigned when their cover ups were exposed. But not a single bishop – or chancellor or vicar general or auxiliary bishop – has ever been defrocked, demoted or disciplined because he ignored or hid child sex crimes, no matter how often or how clearly he was caught doing so and no matter how many innocent children or vulnerable adults suffered as a result.)
And since the church hierarchy refuses to punish complicit church staff, it’s even more crucial that secular authorities do. But again, as they’ve done time and time again, obviously guilty Catholic bureaucrats are basically getting off scot-free.
Everyone knows that quietly moving molesters elsewhere is risky. But it’s also risky to quietly move “enablers.” That’s happening now with Archbishop John Nienstedt. Just two weeks ago, he was found at a plush hotel in California’s Napa Valley saying mass at and participating in a conservative Catholic event.
And a few months before that, he was quietly allowed to work in a Michigan parish, until a firestorm of protest drove him out.
The fact that a Catholic bishop who’s accused of both concealing child sex crimes and committing sexual misconduct continues to work in Catholic parishes and institutions is proof positive that very little is changing when it comes to the safety of kids in the church.
No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(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)