Philly pastor publicly honored a defrocked pedophile priest, SNAP responds

We call on Philly Archbishop Charles Chaput to harshly discipline the pastor who just publicly honored a defrocked pedophile priest. (see below)

Apologies and words aren’t enough. When church employees hurt and insult thousands of betrayed Catholic parishioners and hundreds of suffering abuse victims, action must be taken.

Over and over again, we see Catholic staffers – high and low – making reckless, callous and deceitful decisions in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases. Most times, some church public relations professional then issues a short, vague, tepid semi-apology. And the recklessness, callousness and deceitfulness continue.

Our hearts go out to Philly Catholics – at Holy Spirit and elsewhere- who are again reminded that their church officials care more about their peers than their parishioners.

And our hearts go out to Philly abuse victims and their loved ones, who are again reminded that little is changing in that corrupt church hierarchy.

Chaput can’t “un do” what’s just happened. But he can – and should – take firm steps to prevent it from happening again.

At the same time, however, we believe this kind of callousness is Chaput’s fault. Within a month of taking over the archdiocese, Chaput presided over a meeting at which a criminally-charged colleague, Msgr. William Lynn, got a standing ovation.

By letting a credibly accused serial wrongdoer bask in enthusiastic applause from his peers, Chaput sent a clear and irresponsible and hurtful signal – child sex crimes and cover ups are no big deal.

Now, Chaput – and sadly, his flock - are reaping what he’s sown.

In the Daily News article, a new, low level church staffer (Leslie Davila) calls the pastor’s mean-spirited move “regrettable.” But it’s Chaput, not her, that sets the tone and expectations for the archdiocese. Chaput must act – quickly and decisively and publicly, if this unhealthy, hurtful climate in the Catholic church is to improve.

Catholic staff who have NOT abused kids but who HAVE hurt victims and parishioners through callousness must be punished. Otherwise, such callousness will keep happening. It’s happened in Texas and Connecticut and few other places. It needs to happen more. And it needs to happen now in Philly. And it needs to come from the top.

Bishops pride themselves on being “teachers.” By taking stern action or by timid inaction, Chaput will teach Philly Catholic employees about acting with compassion or with callousness. We hope he chooses the right course.

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