The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Sex Abuse Victim, Parishoner and Catholic Activist Ask That Catholic Event Be Cancelled
Catholic Parishioners Organize Event To Honor Priest Accused Of Sexual Misconduct
Cleric Also Housed A Now Convicted Child Molester
The head of a national suppoort group for clergy molestation victims, the founder of a local Catholic lay reform group and a South Portland Catholic parishioner - are asking Maine's Catholic bishop to cancel a reception honoring a priest accused of sexual misconduct and of housing a child molester.
Paul Kendrick of Cumberland, Catherine Morin Campbell of Portland and David Clohessy of St. Louis are upset about Coughlins alleged sexual misconduct and his housing of John Skinner at the parish rectory. Clohessy heads SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), Kendrick organized the Maine chapter of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), and Campbell is the mother of three young children and a parishioner at Holy Cross parish in South Portland, where Coughlin served as pastor.
The three want Portlands bishop, Richard Malone, to put a
stop to the event, which was mentioned publicly for the first time
in todays Bangor Daily News:
If people want to offer support to an accused priest, they should do it privately, said Kendrick. Publicly honoring Coughlin essentially says We think youre innocent and your alleged victim is lying, or We think youre important and your victim is not. Either message is very insensitive.
Campbell said, "I have known Father Coughlin for many years. In fact, he baptized and confirmed two of my children. But I am dismayed that our efforts as a parish are not being directed towards the possibility that there are other victims who are afraid to come forward. I am concerned that we're creating an atmosphere that's not conducive to finding them."
In a letter sent today to Malone, the three are urging the bishop to cancel this Sundays reception and - use this as an opportunity to teach Catholics about more appropriate and less hurtful ways to support their beloved priest without intimidating victims and witnesses who need to come forward."
Weve seen abusive priests escape civil accountability, evade criminal prosecution, retain their priesthoods, be re-instated and re-assigned, said Clohessy. But nothing hurts more, and drives victims into hopelessness more, than seeing a known or suspected molester be publicly honored.
Such recognition of accused abusers reduces the chances that others who have been assaulted will call the police or seek help, Clohessy said.
The reception will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the VFW Hall in South Portland.
SNAP is the nations largest and oldest support group for clergy molestation victims.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests