SNAP Believes Allegations of Abuse Against South Carolina Bishop Should be Investigated by Secular Authorities
A Catholic bishop from South Carolina who was accused of sexual abuse in a civil lawsuit claimed today that he has been “cleared” by the Vatican. However, we believe that allegations should be investigated by secular authorities before anyone can make a public pronouncement of guilt or innocence.
Charleston, SC, bishop Charles Guglielmone announced that he has been “cleared” by Catholic officials in Rome on allegations that he sexually abused a minor. Yet despite what Vatican officials say, the lawsuit in which Bishop Guglielmone was first accused remains pending in a NY court, although proceedings are currently frozen because the Diocese of Rockville Centre has declared bankruptcy. We firmly believe that secular courts and law enforcement professionals are better at determining the credibility of accusations than the institutional Catholic Church.
We have not forgotten that disgraced and now-defrocked former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was “cleared” by Vatican investigations into accusations against him. As Rome’s own report shows, clearly their earlier investigations failed. A major part of the “playbook” used by Catholic officials worldwide is for the Church to conduct internal "investigations" that are best deficient and at worst outright biased.
Despite claiming his innocence, Bishop Guglielmone did not share the letter he received and still faces litigation in a NY court. Rather than make public pronouncements, it would be best for the Bishop and others to wait until that court finishes its case.
Nearly 50 US bishops and cardinals have been accused of abusing children, several in this cycle of lawsuits in New York. Vatican officials should wait for the secular system to complete their work before making any announcements of innocence. As the McCarrick situation demonstrates, Rome has been wrong before. If the Vatican investigation is truly finished, we believe that a McCarrick-style report should be released so that Bishop Guglielmone’s full history can be publicly vetted; then parents who entrust their children to his diocese can be fully informed about the risks they might be taking.
(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)