MO--Victims prod new bishop to end honoring disgraced prelate

For immediate release: Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003 cell, [email protected])

Bishop Edward Rice, the new head of the Springfield diocese, should publicly urge a statewide Catholic men’s group from honoring perhaps the most disgraced US prelate ever, his predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law

Yesterday, we suggested other steps he should immediately take, steps that are frankly more important than this one about the Knights of Columbus.

But if he’s too timid to warn his flock about predator priests, this request – stop Catholics from honoring a proven wrongdoer – is as quick and simple as it gets.

A large statewide Catholic group that met last weekend just gave a scholarship named after law, who was forced to resign because of widespread abuse cover ups.

The Missouri Knights of Columbus donated money to a student for his education as the “Cardinal Bernard Law Youth Scholarship.”

In 2002, Law became the first US bishop to resign for quietly moving predator priests. He’s been called “the poster child” for the church’s abuse scandal.

Honoring those who conceal abuse encourages others to conceal abuse.

Rice should denounce this callousness and insist that the group apologize and rename the scholarship.

Ignoring wrongdoing encourages more wrongdoing. And honoring a prelate who knowingly endangered hundreds of kids for decades makes victims who haven’t reported their abuse less likely to do so. It deepens the already deep feelings of hopelessness that so many of us already feel.

The Knights have offices in Jefferson City (573 584 3200) and St. Louis (7318 Manchester Rd, 314 647 5529) and and claim to be the “world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization” with 1.8 million members.

(In 2003, the national Knights of Columbus loaned $38 million to Law and the Boston archdiocese to settle child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits.)

Again, we hope Rice will protect the vulnerable by spreading the word about predators like Fr. Thomas Meyer, Fr. James Vincent Fitzgerald, Fr. Michael Charland and Fr. Thomas J. O'Brien.

And we hope he’ll heal the wounded by ending the Knights’ callous honoring of Cardinal Law.

No matter what Rice does or doesn’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions in Springfield 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.

NOTE – The K of C statewide Youth Director is John (Rocky) Gambon of Springfield (417-830-6389). Other K of C officials include Doug Kissinger of Ozark (417-336-2023), Michael Grudzinski of Maryville (660-562-1529), Bob Hawkins of Ballwin (636-391-6443), Michael Auchly of Montgomery City (636-745-3351 x 1321), Jerry Herbert of Florissant (314-746-4608), Tim Beussink of Gordonville (573-450-6466), John Mautino of Lee's Summit(816-305-5954), Michael Tesmer of Harrisonville (816-918-9134).

NOTE - (Besides these five, there are eight other publicly accused child molesting clerics who are or have been in Springfield: Fr. Leonard R. Chambers, Fr. Walter G. J. Craig, Fr. Eugene Deragowski, Fr. Lawrence Gregovich, Fr. Paul McHugh, Fr. Stephen A. Schneider, Fr. Amel A. Shibley, Fr. John Weiberg and Fr. Louis Wyrsch.)

(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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,[email protected])

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