SNAP Calls for the Renaming of Endowment in Utah that Honors an Abusive Priest
According to reports, a permanent endowment for a Catholic church in Utah is still named for a credibly accused predator priest. We believe that Utah's archbishop must rescind and rename the endowment today.
Monsignor George Davich, after whom the endowment is named, was ordered by the Vatican to stop presenting himself in public as a priest and to live a “life of prayer and penance” after an abuse allegation against him was deemed credible in 2002.
Yet for 17 years, Utah Catholic officials – especially Fr. John Norman, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul’s parish and now deceased Utah Bishop George A. Niederauer – have quietly let this travesty stand. Fr. Norman told the media he "does not necessarily see a problem with keeping an accused abuser’s name on the fund.” We wonder if he understands how this makes not only Fr. Davich’s victim or victims feel, but all survivors of sexual violence?
This inaction only sends the message that the Church would rather honor abusers than punish them.
Honoring perpetrators endangers children because it deters victims, witnesses and whistle blowers from speaking up and exposing molesters. It also rubs more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of not only thousands of suffering victims, but also of millions of betrayed Catholics.
Actions matter, not words. Bishop Oscar Solis, the current head of the diocese, should take steps to immediately rename the endowment. If the bishop cares about victims, as he professes, then he must must do something to remedy the situation.
Honoring someone who has hurt children flies in the face of the promises, apologies and kind sentiments from Pope Francis and his bishops during the global abuse summit last month. We hope that Bishop Solis will act now and join the Pope’s call for “all-out battle” against abuse. He can start by renaming this endowment today.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)