NY--NYC bishop minimizes abuse crisis while maintaining secrecy

For immediate release: Thursday, Jan. 8

Statement by Mary Caplan of New York City, SNAP Leader, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (917 439 4187, [email protected])

It’s been more than a decade since the New York Archdiocese has revealed how much it’s spending on clergy sex abuse and cover up cases. (So says self-described “loyal Catholic” Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal.) And a NY bishop is now deceitfully minimizing the scope of the pedophile priest/complicit bishop crisis.



Bishop John O’Hara, in a NY Post op ed, claims that Noonan “must know” that widespread abuse payouts are “not the case for the Archdiocese of New York, which has not had to pay large settlements.” He claims “The situation in New York is completely different than the one found in Boston, where a decade ago Cardinal [Sean] O’Malley did sell the estate that included the residence for the archbishop of Boston, motivated by a need to pay sex abuse settlements (which we have not had here in New York).”

But Noonan writes, because "the last time the New York Archdiocese released numbers on (abuse) costs was 11 years ago." So while his boss conceals abuse costs, Bishop O’Hara asks us to take Catholic officials to take him at his word about those costs. Given the church hierarchy’s decades of secrecy around both abuse and finances – and their pledges to be more honest - that’s just silly.

(The truth is that no one knows how many secret settlements the New York archdiocese has paid and continue to pay. That’s because the church is a monarchy and Dolan doesn’t have to disclose this information.)

Furthermore, Bishop O’Hara’s comments mislead the public. In our view, the New York archdiocese handles abuse almost exactly like the Boston archdiocese does – hiding as much as possible, disclosing only when forced to, minimizing the crisis, and exploiting legal technicalities. The difference: New York Catholic officials have more effectively exploited those technicalities and kept a very tight lid on the crisis, thanks largely to archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly state laws (that Dolan and his colleagues lobby hard to keep in place).

Cardinal Dolan should censure Bishop O’Hara. For decades, Catholic officials have pledged to be “open and transparent” about the clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis. Dolan himself is violating this pledge. But O’Hara goes one step further and deceives the flock about it. 

Noonan says that NYC Cardinal Timothy Dolan should sell his "splendid 15,000-foot mansion on Madison Avenue." The profits, she argues, should be donated to local Catholic schools.

(Dolan’s home is worth roughly $30 million, according to an August CNN report "The lavish homes of American archbishops." That report shows that almost one third of the US's top Catholic officials defy the pontiff's example and live in homes worth more than $1 million.)

We endorse the proposal to sell Dolan’s mansion. When suffering and often poor abuse victims see complicit Catholic officials living in luxury, it often deepens their pain.

But regardless of what Dolan does with his $30 million home, he should “come clean” about his spending on clergy sex and cover up cases, stop fighting statute of limitations reform and harshly denounce Bishop O’Hara for his deceptive and hurtful public comments.

(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, [email protected], Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003, [email protected], Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747, [email protected]   

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