OK--Victims prod new Tulsa bishop to act on abuse

For immediate release:Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, [email protected])

We’re worried about Tulsa’s new bishop, David Konderla and hope he’ll deal very honestly and aggressively with clergy sex abuse and cover up cases. We see nothing in his actions as a priest that give us much hope.

Konderla has spent time in the Dallas diocese (with 20 publicly accused predator priests). He knows the first steps he should take in Tulsa. He should put kids’s safety and victims’ healing first. Specifically, he should:

--Post predator priests’ names on his diocesan website, for the safety of kids and the healing of victims, like 30 of his colleagues have done, and

--Clearly, publicly and repeatedly (through church websites, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements) beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and seek therapy.

We hope he has the courage to take these simple steps toward prevention and recovery. We are not optimistic.  

Bishops are smart, well-educated men with many resources and smart consultants. For decades, they knew – and they know now – exactly what they’re doing when they quietly pay off victims and hide predator priests. It was – and is - a lack of decency and courage that causes this crisis, not a lack of information.

According to an independent, web-based archive group, there are four publicly accused Tulsa area child molesting Catholic clerics: Fr. Paul Eichhoff, Fr. John Jangam, Fr. Kenneth Lewis and Fr. Morris Dale Vanderford. (See BishopAccountability.org) We suspect there are other proven, admitted and credibly accused predatory priests, nuns, brothers and seminarians. Konderla should also identify them and seek out their victims.

For ages, bishops have known that child sex abuse is illegal and hurtful. Yet time and time again, they put their reputations, careers and comfort ahead of kids’ safety, and refuse to call police the minute child sex crimes are known or suspected. And sadly, this is still happening in the church today.

The Catholic hierarchy is a rigid, ancient, secretive, all-male monarchy. So centuries of recklessness callousness regarding clergy sex crimes and cover ups can’t be radically reversed in a few short years. There still ARE abusive priests and bishops are STILL hiding them, moving them, and minimizing and concealing their crimes. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

(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)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris(314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])


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