NY--Victims blast Catholic officials over predator's name removal

For immediate release: Wednesday, Jan. 7

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected], [email protected])

We are grateful that Albany Catholic officials are removing the name of a credibly accused predator priest from a church building but saddened by their refusal to explain why and because of their apparent rationale for the move.


Despite at least two child sex abuse accusations against Fr. Robert H. Purcell – at least one of them deemed “credible” by church officials – Purcell’s name remained until just days ago on a building at Sacred Heart Parish in Margaretville. Albany diocesan officials removed him from ministry, but callously kept his name on church property for more than four years.

Now, adding insult to injury, they refuse to explain why his name was removed.

A church strategic planning report recommended the sign change. Joanne Callahan, a Sacred Heart’s parishioner who wrote the report said it didn’t mention the abuse charges against Fr. Purcell but “came to the conclusion that (the building) is underused, we’re going to try to get it more used.”

“Removing Purcell’s name from the sign appears to be key to that strategy,” reported a local newspaper.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, Fr. Steven Scarmozzino and other church officials should be ashamed of themselves. They should

--apologize for keeping Purcell’s name on the building for years,

--apologize for their secrecy about the report,

--explain why the sign has now been changed, and

--use their vast resources to aggressively seek out others who may have been hurt by Fr. Purcell and other child molesting clerics in the Albany diocese.

Because almost no Catholic official ever does this kind of aggressive outreach, we beg every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups in the Albany diocese to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, deter deceit and start healing.

Finally, let’s be clear: for the healing of Fr. Purcell’s victims, we are glad his name has been removed. But it’s been delayed and done grudgingly for apparently selfish reasons. That’s irresponsible and show just how insensitive to abuse victims Catholic officials continue to be.

(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]   

Showing 2 comments

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant