SNAP Disappointed in New Archbishop for Washington, D.C.
According to a new report, Pope Francis is set to tap Archbishop Wilton Gregory to lead the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
The current Archbishop at the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Gregory enjoys somewhat of a reputation as a “reformer,” largely because he led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) 2002 Dallas meeting in which church officials adopted their abuse charter. In truth, his track record on abuse is poor.
For example, in 2004 and while serving as USCCB president, he was found in contempt of court for refusing to turn over abuse records.
In another example, Archbishop Gregory was previously accused of keeping abuse records secret and for failing to inform the public about credibly accused priests while he was in charge of the Diocese of Belleville, IL.
Given the months of scandal that has wracked the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., it is critical that church officials install a new leader there who will take up Pope Francis’ call to wage an “all-out battle” against abuse. Based on his track record, we’re not confident that Archbishop Gregory is the right choice.
A better option would have been that of Bishop Steven Biegler, currently in charge of the diocese of Cheyenne. Unlike many of his brother bishops, Bishop Biegler has stuck his neck out on the issue of clergy sexual abuse, going so far as to force an investigation – by both police and the Vatican – into his predecessor, Bishop Joseph Hart, and publicly called the abuse accusations against Hart “credible.”
But regardless of who comes in to lead the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C, we hope that they come in and take some much needed steps. The first step they should take is to immediately adds photos, whereabouts and work histories of the credibly accused predator priests to the D.C. archdiocese website. He should next personally visit each parish in the Archdiocese and encourage anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered sexual abuse to come forward and make a report to law enforcement officials. And finally, he should share information with his flock about the ongoing investigations by the Attorney General and US Attorney in D.C. so that communities are informed, survivors are supported, and children are safe.
CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP D.C. Leader ([email protected], 703-801-6044), David Lorenz, Maryland SNAP director ([email protected]gmail.com 301-906-9161), Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 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)