The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
February 23, 2004
Ms. Kathleen McChesney, Executive director
Dear Mrs. McChesney,
Last Tuesday, Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angles posted the names of 211 of a total of 244 priests and other clerics publicly accused of sexual misconduct involving minors on the archdiocesan website.
We, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), have welcomed this gesture as far as it goes, but, at the same time, we have made it clear to Cardinal Mahony, and we are communicating to you, that we consider this action to fall seriously short of the letter and spirit of the Dallas Charter of 2002.
Accordingly, we are asking your support for our request to the Cardinal to make the posting of the names of all clerics that have been convicted or accused of abusing minors a permanent part of the archdioceseâ€s website. This way any interested person having questions about the conduct of a particular cleric can readily look up the name and see whether any history of similar concerns is on record.
There is a precedent: the bishops of Baltimore and Tucson have been enlightened enough to establish such abuser lists and we believe Los Angeles, where victims have come forward in greater numbers than elsewhere, should not lag behind these sister dioceses.
In addition, Cardinal Mahony or his representative should visit every parish where a known abuser cleric served and advise the flock to report any information or suspicions of abuse to law enforcement, and actively seek out former parishioners to inquire whether any of their children had also been abused.
Of far greater importance than permanent posting or aggressive research, however, is the matter that ten of the accused priests are still active in parish ministry. Please review the attached Los Angeles Times article and the pictures of those accused priests. This appears to be a clear violation of the Dallas Charter, and one which we will not tolerate in silence. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-catholic9feb09,1,3534421.story?coll=la-headlines-california.
Cardinal Mahony's position has been that the accusers of these priests are either not credible, or that the victims have not made themselves available for diocesan interviews. This excuse is disingenuous in light of the sluggish history of the church in pursuing its investigations, and amounts to the archdioceseâ€s blaming the survivors for its own shortcomings.
Even more illustrative of the problem is the story of Monsignor Richard A. Loomis, sometime archdiocesan Vicar for Clergy (among whose responsibilities was investigating allegations of sexual abuse), and most recently pastor of Saints Felicitas and Perpetua parish in San Marino. Although Msgr. Loomis was being sued for sexual molestation, the church deemed him innocent, largely because but a single accuser had come forward. On February 8 of this year, SNAP leafleted his church, only to be mocked and scorned by parishioners. But the publicity from that event caused another victim of Msgr. Loomis to come forward, apparently with a story sufficiently credible to cause the removal of Msgr. Loomis from ministry on February 15, one week later.
We in SNAP are concerned there are more stories like those of Msgr. Loomis out there, especially among the ten priests know of who are still allowed to remain in active ministry. Cardinal Mahony has refused to release all the names of accused clergy which he says total 16 and admits are still in ministry despite allegations of abuse. By his failure to remove these priests, Cardinal Mahony has indicated a preference for gambling with the safety of the children rather than with the reputations of the clerics, and we believe this preference evidences a violation of the commitments he made in Dallas in 2002.
Accordingly, we ask you to declare Cardinal Mahony to be in non-compliance with the Dallas Charter, and to do so publicly, so as to protect the children and to signal unequivocally that the Bishops Conference will not tolerate deviations from the adopted standard.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests