MO--SNAP to new bishop: “We’ll consider meeting but. . .”

Oct. 9

Dear Bishop Johnson:

We are urging you to take tangible and immediate steps to safeguard the children of your diocese.  Children are the most precious resource of the Church and the Church must not spend her parishioners' donations on empty gestures that do not protect children.   

Roughly 30 US Bishops have posted on their diocesan websites the names of local predator priests.  Bishop Robert Finn refused to do this, repeatedly ignoring this simple request. It was the very least he could have done. And now you have the opportunity to take this simple move that would help begin the process of healing and help increase the chance of prevention.

To further aid the healing of your diocese, and the protection of children, we request you contact your colleagues in Wyoming and make sure they publicize the credible allegations against Bishop Joseph Hart who assaulted young boys in Kansas City.  We further request the same warning and information to parishioners in Nevada about Fr. Thomas Cronin.  He molested a young girl here (Finn settled this case).  As you know, there is no known cure for a pedophile, so church officials are, even now, knowingly endangering children in Wyoming and Nevada (as well as several states).

Bishop we respectfully request that you make a clean break with the deeply documented and troubling track record on children’s safety in this diocese.  We beseech you to act like a caring shepherd of your precious flock, and not as the cold and calculating bishop that your predecessor proved to be.  Act as you know a Christian should act, especially a Roman Catholic Christian.

Finally, time, resources, energy and morale are precious. We can’t afford to squander them on meaningless or counter-productive efforts.

Children are even more precious. We can’t afford to spend time or energy on gestures that won’t protect them.

In other words, we’re not interested in gestures, apologies, symbolism or words. None of these will stop one child molesting cleric from raping one child or one church official from covering up one crime. We may be willing to meet with you, but only if you show courage, compassion and good faith by taking one or more proven prevention steps FIRST.

In our experience, usually when we sit down with church officials, it ends up being, at best, a waste of time. At worst, it often ends up being a public relations boon for bishops, giving the misguided impression of reform.

So on one hand, we’re tempted to give you the benefit of the doubt. But on the other hand, we’re not willing to talk unless and until you show, by deeds, not words, that you are making kids safer.

Each of these approaches we is inexpensive and practical. None of these requests is controversial or unprecedented. Any of all of them might stop one young life from being shattered. (And frankly, we should not have to even ask for these steps.)

If you don’t like these common sense ideas, we’d be glad to hear what you propose instead, as long as your ideas are practical steps that would make kids safer. Again, we’re not interested in “healing services” or “listening sessions” or “dialogue” or other “feel good” move that might bring very few adults some short term hope but would do little or nothing to actually make children safer.

We hope to hear from you soon.

David Clohessy

SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

7234 Arsenal St.

St.  Louis MO 63143

314 566 9790

Michael Sandridge

SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests


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