SNAP Challenges North Dakota Church Officials to do Outreach
The North-Dakota-based First Nations Women’s Alliance is supporting a woman who reports having been assaulted by a Fargo priest. We echo their view and call on North Dakota Catholic officials to do outreach to find others who may have seen, suspected, or suffered crimes by clergy within North Dakota.
We applaud Kateri Marion for suing the Fargo diocese over the abuse she says she suffered in 2016 at the hands of Fr. Michael Wight. We hope her courage will inspire others with information or suspicions about Fr. Wight to call police, prosecutors, therapists and other independent sources of support.
Fargo church officials gave Fr. Wight access to ND Catholics. Now, it is their duty to go beyond the bare minimum and to actively seek out others who may be suffering in shame, silence and self-blame because of his actions.
In addition to outreach, Fargo’s bishop should reveal and post – prominently and permanently on his website – the names, photos and whereabouts of every single credibly accused priest, brother, nun, monk, seminarian, bishop or teacher who has spent time in his diocese. This list should be sure to include the full work histories of each person accused as well as information relating to when church officials first received the allegations and what actions they took in response to this information.
This is the best way that church officials in North Dakota can help protect children and help survivors. It is also the easiest way that they can honor bishops’ repeated pledges to be “open and honest” in cases of clergy abuse. And finally, it is a step that most U.S. bishops have already taken.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(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)