SNAP is not shocked by yet another allegation of cover-up in the Diocese of Brooklyn
Bishop Raymond Chappetto, 76, whose resignation was accepted by the Vatican on March 7, 2022, is reportedly now the subject of an investigation under the procedures — known in Latin as Vos Estis Lux Mundi (You are the Light of the World) — that address how the Catholic Church will handle claims against bishops and other high-ranking officials accused of abuse or cover-up. The rules direct archbishops to lead the investigation of an accused bishop in his jurisdiction. However, in this case, it appears that the investigation is being overseen by another New York diocese, rather than Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.
Bishop Chappetto is said to have failed to pass on to the Brooklyn diocesan review board and diocesan officials a memo about a priest who had been accused of misconduct. According to the media outlet The Pillar, the investigation has also raised questions among some in Brooklyn about the decision of newly-installed Bishop Robert Brennan to leave Bishop Chappetto in place as vicar general for more than four months after the complaints to the Vatican about Bishop Chappetto’s conduct were disclosed.
The memo from a Brooklyn parish pastor that Bishop Chappetto failed to pass along reportedly said that the pastor had worked with a priest he believed to be exhibiting a "pattern of persistently problematic behavior." The Vos Estis complaint said that Bishop Chappetto did not forward this vital information to the diocesan review board or to diocesan officials. Without seeing this memo, the review board recommended that the priest in question be allowed to return to ministry after completing treatment. The clergyman was later removed a second time "after another allegation of serious misconduct."
To us, such tactics by the hierarchy are always red flags. The cover-ups are almost always done to protect a cleric, possibly one who is a friend of the decision-maker, but sometimes just to preserve what is left of the Church’s reputation in these matters. "Problematic behavior" that stays with Catholic officials, demonstrates time and time again that Church leaders will go to any length to conceal the evil within their fraternity. This public display of arrogance by prelates is not just an offense to the tens of thousands of victims of clergy abuse, but also to their parishioners. Churchgoers who sit in the pews to learn about the teachings of the gospel should be appalled to see that those teachings are sometimes not put into practice once their leaders exit the sanctuary.
While the Vos Estis investigation into Bishop Chappetto has reportedly begun, the Diocese of Brooklyn also announced Wednesday the resignation of two senior Diocesan officials, Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, who had been moderator of the curia, and Jasmine Salazar, who was director of the Office for Protection of Children and Young People, victim assistance coordinator, and diocesan vice-chancellor.
Senior sources in Brooklyn apparently told The Pillar that Msgr. Hernandez and Ms. Salazar resigned after Bishop Brennan kept Bishop Chappetto in office as vicar general, the diocesan bishop’s chief deputy, despite the Vos estis complaint, and also despite evidence that Bishop Chappetto had withheld the 2020 memo from the diocesan review board. “People thought [Chappetto] would be out, but then he just stayed and stayed as vicar general,” a source close to the chancery is said to have told The Pillar.
We applaud the whistleblower or whistleblowers who filed the complaint against Bishop Chappetto, and we also praise the diocesan officials who appear to have resigned from their respective positions because they knew the wrong and the harm that had been done. It takes courage to stand up to a powerful institution, especially in the face of reported retaliation, which is itself another violation of Vos Estis.
Our hope is that a swift investigation into this travesty takes place, that wrongdoers are punished, and that those who stood up for what is right are rewarded.