OH--Three predator priests are defrocked
For immediate release: Tuesday, Oct. 28
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])
Decades too late, three Cincy area predator priests have been defrocked. This is a tiny, long-overdue step that is more about protecting church officials than innocent kids.
Thomas A. Kuhn, Thomas F. Feldhaus and Ronald C. Cooper were suspended more than a decade ago (in 2002, 2003 and 2004, respectively). How can Catholic officials justify such irresponsible delays?
We suspect that two of these decisions were made months ago – perhaps even years ago – but were kept quiet by Cincy church officials so that all three could be announced at the same time. If so, that’s a cynical, irresponsible and self-serving public relations maneuver.
When church officials defrock predator priests it's less about safeguarding kids. It's more about church damage control. Still, we are grateful these priests are now, finally, ousted from the priesthood. Without that Roman collar and the respect that accompanies it, they will find it a bit harder to win the trust of parents, gain access to kids, and sexually assault them.
It's crucial to remember that basically no Catholic supervisors have been punished, worldwide, for enabling and hiding horrific clergy sex crimes. The Pope must start defrocking clerics who cover up sex crimes, not just clerics who commit them. Until that happens, little will change.
So why the alleged increase in defrocked pedophile priests in recent years? It's likely because more victims across the globe are gaining the strength and courage to come forward and are reporting to (and pressuring) church officials because archaic, predator-friendly secular laws prevent most victims from seeking justice in court. And it's likely because more bishops are convincing Vatican officials that defrocking predators is a smart public relations and legal defense strategy. Cutting all ties with the most egregious serial sex offender clerics helps convince Catholics that progress is being made.
Catholic officials pretend that once a child molesting cleric is defrocked, their duty is over. It's not. Bishops' duty to protect others from these dangerous men does not end when they are defrocked.
It's irresponsible for Catholic officials to recruit, educate, ordain, train, transfer and protect predator priests, then defrock them when they're caught (and the heat gets too intense) and stop there. Catholic officials should help make sure child molesting clerics are criminally prosecuted. If that can't happen, then Catholic officials should house them in remote, secure treatment centers. And Catholic officials should lobby for, not against, reforming outdated, secular laws that enable many who commit and conceal child sex crimes to escape punishment.
Schnurr should go to every parish where these men worked and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors, so that they might be charged with more child sex crimes and kept away from kids and so that other current and former church staff who helped conceal his crimes might be prosecuted. Until that happens, we can take little comfort in the belated defrocking of these predators.
And as we've said before, Schnurr should post on his archdiocesan website and every parish website – for the safety of kids and the healing of victims – the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric who lives or lived or works or worked in the Cioncy Archdiocese, whether living or deceased, diocesan or religious order. Until that happens, it's hard to believe there's any real progress.
Finally, the archbishop’s spokesman is wrong. Defrocking a priest is not the church’s ultimate penalty. That’s excommunication. But in our group’s 25 year history, we know of no predator priest, no matter how egregious or prolific he may have been, who has ever been excommunicated.
We hope this news brings some comfort to those who were sexually assaulted as children by these clerics. But we know that child molesters usually keep molesting, even after being fired. So we beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by these clerics will call police and prosecutors so that kids might be spared the Pain of horrific childhood trauma.
Photos of all three are available at BishopAccountability.org
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)