SNAP Fact Sheet on Bishop Mitchell Rozanski
Here are some of our observations and concerns about Bishop Rozanski’s dealings with abuse and cover up in recent years:
2016 – Springfield church officials ignore mom who calls about suicidal son.
It’s heartbreaking to learn that a Catholic deacon told a mother to call church officials instead of independent professionals when her son was threatening suicide.
It’s even more heartbreaking to read, in the Springfield MA Republic, that “No one (from the church) called (her) back.”
There are a number of well-established, suicide prevention hotlines. Deacon David Baillargeon should know this. Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski should tell his staff this.
And church employees should resist the arrogant temptation to assume that their colleagues know best how to handle every situation, especially crises and crimes.
Baillargeon should have also called police or at least urged the mom to do so. Even though the accused offender, Fr. Paul Archambault, was deceased, it’s always possible that police could investigate whether others broke the law by ignoring or concealing his crimes. All crimes, no matter when we learn of them, should be reported to the unbiased, experienced professionals in law enforcement.
We hope Bishop Rozanski quickly and clearly tells his staff and flock that independent secular experts should be called in crisis situations and about suspected crimes.
2016 – Bishop Rozanski does little to help catch suspected murderer priest.
We’re grateful to the Chicopee MA police for warning the public about ex-priest Richard Lavigne. We wish Springfield Catholic officials would likewise step up and alert and remind parents about this dangerous man.
The mere passage of time doesn’t make child molesters less dangerous. We believe Lavigne is still a threat to kids. We hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes will find the courage to call police, expose wrongdoers and protect children.
And we hope that Springfield Catholic officials who recruited, educated, ordained, trained, hired, transferred and shielded Fr. Lavigne for decades will also aggressively seek out and support others who were hurt by him and beg them to call law enforcement. We hope that Bishop Mitchell Rozanski will lead this effort. But if he doesn’t, we hope that other church staff in the diocese will show real courage and use pulpit announcements, church bulletins and parish websites to do it.
Our hearts go out to the brave Crouteau family and everyone else who has been impacted by Lavigne’s crimes and church cover ups of those crimes.
2014 – Bishop claim’s he’s ‘learned’ about abuse but takes no real action.
We take strong issue with comments on abuse made by the new head of the Springfield diocese.
For several years, Bishop Rozanski has been on the US bishops abuse committee. That body has been virtually worthless. It has done little or nothing about the absolute bare minimum and has focused far more on public relations than abuse prevention.
He claims that being on the panel “has taught me first of all about the importance of reaching out to victims and survivors acknowledging their pain.”
This is disingenuous. Bishops keep pretending that they didn't “understand” abuse until recently and that their carefully crafted cover ups were somehow well-intentioned “mistakes” when they were deliberate decisions to protect church officials instead of innocent children.
We hope Bishop Rozanski proves us wrong by promptly posting not just names, but photos, whereabouts and work histories of every child molesting cleric who is or has been in his diocese – whether living or dead, whether diocesan or religious order, whether proven, admitted or credibly accused.
If he's learned about “the importance of reaching out to victims,” we urge him to go, this weekend, to every parish where Fr. Charles J. Sullivan worked, and beg victims, witnesses and whistle blowers to contact police.
Fr. Sullivan was publicly accused three years ago, the allegations were deemed credible, and church officials said he would live a “life of prayer and penance.” But according to Bishop Accountability.org, his whereabouts are unknown. So he's likely living among unsuspecting neighbors, perhaps volunteering at a school chess club in the afternoons or babysitting his relatives kids in the evening. It's possible he might be criminally charged, convicted and imprisoned, Bishop Rozanski would show – by his deeds, not his words – that he does indeed “understand the importance of outreach.”
2014 – Bishop ignore request for more details about credibly accused abusers.
We know little about Springfield's new Catholic bishop and we wish him well. But we rarely see new bishops take stronger steps to protect kids, so we caution Springfield area parents and parishioners against being complacent about children's safety.
It's always tempting to assume that the new prelate will automatically somehow be “better” than his predecessor when it comes to the church's on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis. But that's rarely the case.
So we beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to continue reporting what they hear, see, know and suspect about clergy misdeeds and crimes to secular authorities, not church authorities.
That's how to best safeguard the vulnerable – rely on the unbiased, independent professionals in law enforcement, not the biased, self-serving church officials in chancery offices.
There are 48 publicly accused Springfield child molesting Catholic clerics. We urge Bishop Rozanski to disclose their whereabouts and post their photos and work histories on the diocesan website. That's the quickest and cheapest way he can help parents protect their kids – by providing facts about who and where these proven, admitted and credibly accused predators are now and have been.
(Note: over the past six years, we’ve seen no evidence that Rozanski took action on our plea to provide details like pictures, whereabouts and work histories of predator priests.)
OTHER SNAP CONCERNS
Rozanski’s list of accused child molesting clerics is among the least helpful and most vague of all the lists put out by US bishops. Many such lists include the number of allegations, the years of the alleged offenses, the names of churches where the accuse worked, and other relevant and helpful details. Rozanski’s list omits this crucial information.
It appears that Rozanski’s list of accused child molesting clerics hasn’t been substantially updated in at least four years. (It was originally posted on the diocesan= site in 2011, the same day that Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley first posted his Boston list In 2016, apparently one name – Fr. Paul Archambault – was added.)
For seven years, Rozanski was on the largely ineffective US bishops National Committee for the Protection of Youth and Young People (2007-2014) If any prelate should be ‘ahead of the pack’ on childrens’ safety, it should be one who spent time on this panel. Sadly, that’s just not true of Rozanski.
Contact: David Clohessy, SNAP Missouri (email@example.com, 314-566-9790)