For immediate release: Saturday, September 26, 2015
Today, Pope Francis con-celebrated mass with the disgraced former head of the Philadelphia archdiocese, Cardinal Justin Rigali. The other day, Francis brought with him to the White House the disgraced former head of the Los Angeles archdiocese, Cardinal Roger Mahony.
Seen at the papal festivities a few days ago was the disgraced Archbishop John Neinstedt. The St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocese, which he headed for years, faces criminal prosecution for endangering kids.
The “take away” here is this: No matter how much you enable or hide predator priests, if you’re a bishop, you’ll always be welcome in and by the Catholic hierarchy. Never mind if your visibility rubs salt into deep wounds. Never mind if your grandstanding discourages others from reporting crimes. Once you’ve been let into our esteemed ranks, you’ll always be a part of this exclusive club and enjoy the many benefits such membership confers.
In 2011, nine years after bishops promised to “reform,” Rigali, under pressure, was forced to suspend 21 accused Philly priests on one day. These suspensions took place exactly one month after Rigali wrote his flock assuring them that there were no credibly-accused priests remaining within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. In 2005, Rigali kept silent as his lawyer blasted prosecutors as “anti-Catholic” in the wake of a second scathing report about widespread clergy sex crimes and cover ups in his archdiocese.
At least Bishop Robert Finn, the only US bishop to be convicted of withholding evidence of child sex crimes from police, isn’t jumping on the papal bandwagon. (He’s in Spain now, probably at the urging of church public relations officials.)
Despite this callous behavior, we beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to keep speaking up, exposing wrongdoers, protecting kids, calling police, deterring cover ups and getting help.
(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