Peru- Vatican defrocks abusive Peru bishop
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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Apparently, Vatican officials have quickly and quietly defrocked a child molesting Peruvian bishop. Defenders of the Catholic hierarchy will no doubt claim that this shows Vatican officials are making progress on abuse. We disagree.
First, a Peruvian prosecutor is complaining that church officials aren't giving him the information he is seeking so that criminal charges might be filed against Bishop Gabino Miranda of Ayacucho.
That's NOT progress. This kind of selfish and reckless secrecy is how most Catholic officials have dealt and are dealing with cases of child sex crimes, whether the predator is a priest, nun, seminarian, teacher or bishop. That is one of the MOST irresponsible steps a Catholic official can take – interfering, directly or indirectly, with a police investigation into a possible predator.
Second, helping police and prosecutors charge and convict child molesting clerics should be church officials' highest priority. Once a church predator is behind bars and away from kids, then church officials can start discussing whether he should be defrocked.
Third, Catholic officials have long taken action (albeit secretively, slowly and inadequately) against those who commit child sex crimes. But they refuse to take virtually any action against those who conceal child sex crimes. That's why this crisis continues – because the prelates who could prevent child sex crimes but don't are never punished. So that's where Catholic officials should focus.
If ever they do start publicly defrocking, demoting, disciplining and denouncing the “enablers,” that will be real progress.
Fourth, defrocking is a mixed bag. Some feel good that a child molesting cleric is permanently ousted because it’s been described as the toughest penalty church officials can receive. Others, however, suspect that defrocking predators is just a smart public relations and legal defense strategy for church officials when they have egregious, prominent and clearly incorrigible serial child molesters. And they worry that once a child molesting cleric is defrocked, his church supervisors almost always do nothing to warn others about him or protect others from him.
There are other options, of course. Catholic officials, again, could and should aggressively help law enforcement find other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers who can help prosecutors convict these dangerous clerics.
And in cases where criminal prosecution is not possible, Catholic officials should put child molesting clerics in remote, secure, independently-run treatment facilities and disclose their whereabouts.
But church officials rarely have the courage, strength and will to do either of these.
So again, the crucial step that Vatican officials must start taking is to defrock those who conceal abuse. That’s never been done. We see no sign that it's really being considered. And that’s why childhood sexual violence continues to be hidden by top Catholic officials.
(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 18,000 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)