NY- New Albany Catholic bishop is installed; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
We are not optimistic about Albany's new Catholic bishop, Edward B. Scharfenberger, who is being installed today.
He's a lawyer twice over: in both the civil and canonical realms. The church's central crisis continues to be clergy sex crimes and cover ups. And it's become clear over the past 30 years that far too many alleged religious figures deal with this on-going scandal with a lawyerly approach instead of a pastoral one.
And he hails from the Brooklyn Diocese, which has had and still has a very troubling track record on this crisis. (According to independent researchers at BishopAccountability.org, there are 53 publicly accused abusive Brooklyn priests, nuns, and brothers. Albany diocese has 45.)
Because of New York's archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly statute of limitations, very few men, women and teens who were sexually assaulted by clerics can ever use the courts to expose their perpetrators. So we believe the true number of child molesting clerics, in both Brooklyn and Albany, is substantially higher.
Usually, when a new bishop takes office, Catholics naively assume that he'll be better than his predecessor when it comes to protecting the vulnerable. We think this is a reckless attitude. Complacency protects no one. Only vigilance protects kids.
So our advice and our plea to Albany citizens and Catholics is to continue reporting known and suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to civil authorities, not to church officials. And we beg Scharfenberger to follow the lead of roughly 30 other diocese and post the names, works histories and photos of all credibly accused priests, nuns, deacons, and brothers on the diocese website.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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)