PA - Guilt is now clear, so Archbishop Chaput must act

The newly-established guilt of two Philly Catholic employees should be a clarion call for Philly's Catholic hierarchy. After hearing and seeing voluminous evidence, an impartial jury has found that Fr. Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero are child molesters. What now?

Now, Archbishop Charles Chaput has two choices. He can break with the long-standing, selfish and destructive practices of the Catholic hierarchy, and aggressively seek out others who were hurt by these two predators. Or he can do what he and his brother bishops have done for decades, and essentially be passive.

We urge Chaput to act like a compassionate shepherd, not a cold-hearted CEO. We urge him to personally visit every church or school where these two convicted child molesters worked or lived. We urge him to beg any victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers to step forward, call police, expose wrongdoers, and deter wrongdoing. We urge him to print prominent and clear appeals in every parish bulletin and on the archdiocesan website, prodding others who have been victimized to step forward. This is an inexpensive and non-controversial way to help those who were violated as kids but are still in pain as adults.

This isn't rocket science. It's common sense. It's what any responsible religious figure would do.

Does Chaput honestly think "Billy" is the only child these two convicted Catholic employees assaulted?

Over the past two decades, we in SNAP have seen, over and over again, that when public figures plead with victims to speak up, it can have a positive impact. Chaput isn't shy. He speaks up often. Why won't he beg deeply wounded and still suffering child sex abuse victims to do the same?

In archdiocesan fundraising appeals, Chaput puts on the full court press. In clergy sex cases, Chaput sits on the sidelines, even when guilt is clear and when his voice could help.

Has he forgotten what Pope Benedict has promised: that Catholic officials will "do everything possible" to help those who were assaulted as kids by clerics?

Though Mr. Shero and Fr. Engelhardt have been found guilty, they have not been sentenced yet. If Chaput acts responsibly, he may find other victims whose voices might impact whether and for how long these two criminals are imprisoned. And if others with information or suspicions about these clergy sex crimes and cover ups step forward, maybe more criminal charges could be filed - either against these two men or against other church staffers who may have helped conceal their crimes, destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, discredit whistleblowers or committed other offenses.

Promises ring hollow when they are not followed with action. In this new year, starting now, we hope Chaput will turn over a new leaf and use his vast powers to seek out and help the lost and wounded sheep in his flock, especially those hurt by Mr. Shero and Fr. Engelhardt.

Showing 2 comments

  • Mike Skiendzielewski
    commented 2013-01-31 19:49:13 -0600
    Barbara, no need to tell Archbishop Chaput that “he must act”. I’m sure that, as we speak, he is acting, i.e., on his way to Harrisburg to once again meet with the legislators in opposition to the legislative proposals reintroduced by Reps. McGeehan, Bishop and Rozzi. There’s no stopping our spiritual leader when he is in “lobbying mode”; Chaput knows that he has to protect the Church; we know that we have to protect the children.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Philadelphia, PA
  • Michael Ference
    commented 2013-01-31 13:24:06 -0600
    I will continue to dictate policy for the all-but defunct Pittsburgh Diocese. I take no pleasure in this role, but do so willingly for the sake of all survivors of catholic clergy sex abuse, worldwide. The sins and the crimes of Donald “The Lavender Don Wuerl” and all the hierarchy of the Pittsburgh Diocese will begin to unravel, one-by-one.

    So far, I have forced the Pittsburgh Diocese and Serra …Catholic High School in McKeesport, PA to send out caution letters to alumni concerning former Serra High School Headmaster Father Michael LeDoux. LeDoux was credibly accused of sexually abusing a student.

    The letters have been sent out and received by alumni.
    Is one letter enough? I don’t think so.

    According to former city of Clairton Public Safety Director Bill Scully, the McKeesport Police deliberately covered up the attempted murder of my son on December 5, 1989, because again, according to Scully, the shooter may have been sexually abused by former catholic priest Father John Wellinger or perhaps another Serra Catholic cleric.

    So what good is a letter warning of a credibly accused cleric, if the alumni are not warned of a corrupt police department and a corrupt political municipality?

    Is it possible that Serra Catholic alumni or parents of alumni, reported sexual abuse claims to the McKeesport Police years ago, only to have their claims minimized, resulting in no one pressing charges? Maybe McKeesport Police intimidated or coerced alumni of Serra or their parents not to press charges.

    The city of McKeesport is the hub of Synchronized Crime in Allegheny County. One only has to Google the following scandals to get an idea just how corrupt this area really is. Try goggling Tanya Kach scandal, Cornell Middle School Scandal, McKeesport Police overtime scandal, Pat Risha Ralph Imbrogno bid rigging, Zappala Crime Family, etc., to get an idea what a cesspool McKeesport and surrounding communities really are.

    As the discovery process continues to unravel, one can only speculate on the number of civil lawsuits that may be filed against all of these guilty parties.

    If anyone would like more information about my investigation feel free to contact me at 412-233-5491 or email me at [email protected].

    I’m not a lawyer, but the lopsided settlement that Alan Perer and his firm negotiated for the 32 victims of alleged sexual abuse by priests in the Pittsburgh Diocese more closely resembles being snookered than kindness and generosity on the part of the Pittsburgh Diocese.

    More to come, much more.

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