PA- New investigative report on ex-Scranton priest
For immediate release: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
A lengthy and troubling new investigative report on a former Scranton priest, accused repeatedly of child sexual abuse and adult sexual misconduct, shows that he is still around young people now, plus being second-in-command of a Catholic diocese in Paraguay. Bishops in dioceses where this predator priest worked - Switzerland, Argentina, Scranton, and Winona – must do more to stop him from hurting others.
The cleric, Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, now “leads a starry-eyed cadre of young male seminarians,” according to the Global Post, despite a $400,000 settlement with at least one victim and “warnings from the bishop of Scranton, where in 2002 Urrutigoity was accused of molesting a teenage boy and sleeping with and touching other young men.”
The long article says that Fr. Urrutigoity “is a man who’s been described by bishops from Switzerland to Pennsylvania as 'dangerous,' 'abnormal,' and 'a serious threat to young people.'”
We call on Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera to take more steps to protect vulnerable parishioners from Fr. Urrutigoity by:
--publicly disclosing the letter he alleged wrote recently to the Vatican about the priest,
--visiting every parish or church facility in Pennsylvania where he worked, urging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call the police, and
--write again to his colleague, the Paraguay bishop, and beg him to suspend the priest.
The outstanding Global Post article is clearly very well-researched. But we quibble with the author in three respects. First, the author writes that Fr. Urrutigoity’s “voyage from his native Argentina to Pennsylvania and back to South America represents a new chapter in the shocking story of abuse in the Catholic Church.” We disagree. Catholic officials sending predator priests across national boundaries isn't new. It's been going on for ages. We suspect it's becoming more and more common. But it's not new.
Second, the author writes that Fr. Urrutigoity “has risen” to a position of power. While technically correct, this phrasing ignores the fact that he has been GIVEN a position of power by high ranking Catholic officials. And third, the author writes of the church hierarchy's “seeming inability” to control predator priests. We believe it's more accurate to call it a “refusal” to control predator priests. The Catholic church is a clear and rigid hierarchy. Bishops in Switzerland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Peru and Rome have taken few or no steps to safeguard youngsters from Fr. Urrutigoity.
So it's not that they've tried and failed to control this dangerous cleric. It's that they haven't tried. They are indeed capable of suspending and disciplining and defrocking him. But they lack the will and the courage, not the ability, to take such simple, overdue steps to stop him from hurting others.
Finally, there seems to be some vagueness about the age of Fr. Urrutigoity's victims. A decade ago (12/4/04), the Catholic News Service reported that "Additional court documents (and) depositions by three other former students testifying that Father Urrutigoity sexually fondled them or slept with them when they were minors."
We call on bishops in every diocese where Fr. Urrutigoity has worked or studied – Switzerland, Argentina, Scranton, and Winona – to use their vast resources to seek out and help those who saw, suspected or suffered the clerics crimes and to beg them to call law enforcement so that he can be arrested, charged, convicted and kept away from kids. We also call on these bishops to write to Vatican officials and insist that he be defrocked.
(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 15,000 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)