NY--Syracuse bishop must do more re predator priest

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 11

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)

We’re grateful to two retired police officers who are helping to expose stunning recklessness and deceit by Syracuse Catholic officials. They say law enforcement staff warned a Catholic bishop about suspected sexual misconduct by Msgr. Charles Eckermann.


We strongly suspect that, over the years, dozens of Syracuse church staff knew of or suspected Eckermann’s sexual misdeeds and crimes but repeatedly chose to ignore or hide them. We suspect that at least a few of these church officials are still on the church payroll. Shame on each of them.

It’s not enough for Bishop Robert Cunningham to apologize. For the safety of the vulnerable and the healing of the wounded, he must use his vast resources to tell parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public about other proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics in the area.

Cunningham should start by asking – through pulpit announcements, church websites and parish bulletins – that others with information or suspicions about Eckermann’s crimes should call law enforcement immediately. (Even if Eckermann can’t be prosecuted, it’s possible that others who helped him hide his crimes might be.)

Cunningham should personally visit every parish where Eckermann worked, making this same plea.

Cunningham should permanently post on his diocesan website – and periodically post in parish bulletins – the names, photos and whereabouts of every child molesting cleric who is in or has been in the Syracuse area (whether living or deceased, diocesan or religious order). That kind of honesty is what safeguards children, not weak, belated, vague apologies about what his predecessor did or did not do.

Complacency protects no one. Only vigilance protects kids. So we beg Syracuse citizens and Catholics to remain skeptical of claims by the Catholic hierarchy when it comes to predator priests and children’s safety.

It’s tempting but irresponsible to believe that clergy sex crimes and cover ups are largely over. They are not. Even now, despite decades of horrific scandal, most church officials still put their own reputations, power and careers ahead of children’s safety.

So we urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups in Syracuse to call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids, deter cover ups, and start healing by seeking help from independent sources.

While we are grateful to retired officers John Falge and Thomas Murphy for being honest, the real heroes here are men like Kevin Braney who are finding the courage to report the heinous crimes they suffered at the hands of priests like Eckermann. We hope others who have been severely hurt by child molesting Syracuse clerics will summon the strength to step forward too.

(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  

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