PA- Altoona priest is arrested; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Now that federal authorities have arrested an Altoona-Johnstown priest on child sex charges, the burden now shifts to Bishop Mark Bartchak. He must help police and prosecutors by using his considerable resources to seek out victims, witnesses and whistleblowers.
A week ago, we asked Bartchak to write his Central American colleagues and urge them to aggressively reach out to others who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or misconduct by a priest who has just been put on leave because federal agents raided his church and home. And we said that Bartchak should use his own parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements to persuade his flock to share what they know or suspect about this priest with law enforcement.
We still stand by these requests and are disappointed that he has not responded to them. We also don't believe the Altoona-Johnston church officials who claims he and his colleagues knew nothing about Fr. Joseph Maurizio alleged “charity” work in Central and South America.
Fr. Maurizio says he has “traveled to 100 countries and has worked with orphanages in El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Peru,” according to Tribune Review. That's very worrisome to us.
We also noted a week ago that “Bartchak will no doubt be tempted to do nothing. That's wrong. He has a civic and moral duty to help police investigate and perhaps help prosecutors pursue Fr. Maurizio. He should not passively sit back and evade responsibility. Fr. Maurizio was likely recruited, educated, ordained, trained and transferred by Altoona-Johnstown Catholic officials. They can't wash their hands of him now.”
Now more than ever, we hope that every individual with knowledge of Fr. Maurizio's wrongdoing – in Pennsylvania or elsewhere – will find the courage to speak up, call law enforcement, and help get this troubling situation resolved.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years 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)