Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letter

Letter to Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl

April 20, 2010

Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington
Office of the Archbishop
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

LETTER SENT VIA E-MAIL TO: [email protected]

Dear Archbishop Wuerl:

We urge you to forbid a controversial church official who clearly endorses law-breaking and irresponsible behavior from leading a mass in your archdiocese this weekend.

You know all of the disturbing facts about Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a former Vatican official who is coming here in just a few days:

  • He thanked and congratulated a French bishop, in a letter he wrote in 2001, for hiding a sexually abusive priest.
  • He allegedly was authorized to send that same letter to bishops across the globe.
  • He defended his 2001 letter just days ago at a conference in Spain, arguing that the French bishop couldn't tell police about a predator priest because he learned about the crimes in the confessional. The French bishop himself, however, contradicted this claim, admitting that the priest admitted his crimes in a normal conversation, which is not a privileged communication according to church rules.
  • He now claims, without providing any evidence, that he wrote the letter endorsing the French bishop with the approval of the late Pope John Paul II.
  • He has expressed no remorse for his letter or his deceptive comments.
  • He has made similarly hurtful comments about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups in the recent past.
  • It should go without saying that Castrillon-Hoyos' words and deeds are very hurtful to clergy abuse victims, Catholics, and anyone who cares about kids.

Giving him the honor of leading this mass is problematic in two ways. First, it rewards wrong-doing, and that in turn encourages future wrong-doing. Second, it rubs salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of millions of hurting Catholics and thousands of hurting victims.

Actions, not words, really matter. And when actions and words are in conflict, people pay attention to our actions. When church employees watch a prelate get rewarded, who advocates always reckless and sometimes illegal behavior, they'll get a clear and disturbing message: "It's business-as-usual in the church. Endanger kids and you'll be honored."

You can talk about children's safety day in and day out, but when you associate with and honor a man who endangers children's safety, you are helping to maintain the same unhealthy church culture that has lead to hundreds of thousands of children getting raped, sodomized and assaulted.

It's important to remember that Castrillon-Hoyos isn't some low level church functionary. For years, he was the head of the powerful Congregation for the Clergy. In 2001, when he wrote that letter, he was essentially in charge of priests across the world. In 2005, he was named by many Vatican observers as a likely candidate to become the next Pope.

We urge you to again read, and carefully consider, his exact remarks: "I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration," Castrillón Hoyos wrote to Bishop Pierre Pican of the Bayeux-Lisieux diocese. "You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest."

Many church officials over the years have made intemperate, inaccurate or hurtful remarks about the clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis. Few, however, have overtly praised a colleague who clearly broke the law and endangered children.

Many have made off-handed comments that have been harmful. Few, however, have made such harmful written remarks, done with care and deliberation.

In one-on-one interviews or conversations many church leaders have said callous and damaging things. Few, however, have committed to writing and circulated such callous and damaging things throughout the church hierarchy.

This isn't the first time Castrillon Hoyos has generated controversy with his extreme views and irresponsible actions. Five years ago, we expressed concern that Castrillon-Hoyos was on many people's "short list" to be named Pope. At that time, we wrote:

"Castrillon-Hoyos has a misguided view of the roots of the abuse scandal.'Concerning the problem of sexual abuse and cases of pedophilia, I have only one answer'" Cardinal Dario Castrillon-Hoyos, told reporters. 'In today's culture of pansexualism and libertinism created in this world, several priests, being of this culture, have committed the most serious crime of sexual abuse.'"

He also 'intervened' in the case of a notorious predator priest, Fr. Robert Trupia of the Phoenix Archdiocese (originally from Los Angeles). According to the Boston Globe (3/8/2003), Trupia won an appeal to be reinstated as a priest, despite numerous abuse allegations, thanks to Castrillon Hoyos. The Cardinal sided with Trupia 'even through (a bishop) reported that Trupia had attempted to intimidate him into revoking his suspension and an order that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation by threatening to reveal what he knew about a high-ranking Phoenix bishop's sex life.'

Castrillon Hoyos was also a key Vatican official prodding the Vatican to withhold approval of the US bishops' sex abuse policy because it allegedly contradicted church law.

He was also a key figure in Vatican revisions to that eventually watered-down this already vague and weak new policy."

A year later, when Castrillon Hoyos was replaced, we again expressed our concerns about him when we wrote:

"The departure of a radically insensitive Vatican official, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, should be welcomed by Catholics everywhere. Of the many blame-shifting and excuse-making public comments made by church authorities on clergy sex abuse, Hoyos' remarks have been among the most harsh and off-the-mark"

He treated journalists with disdain and arrogance at a now-famous Vatican news conference:

He reportedly responded with little compassion to an Irish priest who had been molested as a child by a priest, and focused more on silencing a perceived church critic: And he repeated many of the tired and callous misconceptions about the clergy sex abuse crisis and cover up, including that this is largely an American phenomenon."

You have the power, Archbishop, to make sure this irresponsible man doesn't enjoy a place of honor in your archdiocese. Please act now to stop him from leading the mass and show, by your actions, that you value obeying the law and protecting children.


David Clohessy
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915
[email protected]

Barbara Blaine
President, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
PO Box 6416
Chicago IL 60680
312 399 4747
[email protected]

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688
[email protected]

Mark V. Serrano
National Spokesman and former Board Member
19415 Deerfield Avenue, Suite 212
Lansdowne, VA 20176
O 571 223 0042 C 703 727 4940

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests