While Retired Archbishop Chaput Criticizes President-Elect Biden, SNAP Renews Call for Federal Investigation
Recently retired Archbishop Charles Chaput is a pot calling the kettle black when he criticizes President-electJoseph Biden as being “scandalous.” After all, Archbishop Chaput knows a thing or two about being scandalous.
In our opinion, it is without a doubt a scandal when a Catholic child is sexually abused by a trusted priest. It is twice the scandal when that criminal is enabled by his bishop to escape justice and detection. Given the number of times that Archbishop Chaput has been accused of enabling abuse, we believe his moralizing is misplaced.
As we see it, Archbishop Chaput has long covered for clerics accused of abuse, ignoring the “zero-tolerance” policy of the Dallas Charter repeatedly along the way. For example, Archbishop Chaput kept allegations against Fr. John P. Paul under wraps for months in 2013, then allowed the priest to resign because of “the extreme emotional duress experienced by Father Paul while the allegations were being investigated.” When the accusations were finally made public, more victims spoke up, forcing the Archbishop to acknowledge that Fr. Paul was in fact "unsuitable" for ministry.
Over the years it appears to us that Archbishop Chaput repeated this pattern. For example, after being informed about allegations against a local priest in the fall of 2018, the Archbishop waited a year to inform the public, despite the fact that the clergyman was actively assigned to a girls’ high school.
Archbishop Chaput also worked against survivors in the courtroom. In Colorado, while working as the Archbishop of Denver, he was described as handling survivors of abuse with “an iron fist in a velvet glove,” and was criticized for using hardball legal tactics against victims. In addition, he was credited with defeating statute of limitation reform in that state. Then as Archbishop of Philadelphia, he worked to defeat statute of reform legislation in Pennsylvania.
The attorney general of Colorado just completed an investigation into the Catholic Church in that state. The report excluded naming any order priests, including Capuchins. The Archbishop is a Capuchin. His order has six provinces in North America and only two of those six orders have published lists of abusive priests. We note that we have not heard Archbishop Chaput pleading with those four provinces to create their own lists.
Archbishop Chaput and other Catholic leaders should have no moral voice until they get their own houses in order. So far at least 23,000 victims have come forward in the United States and over 7,000 priests are known to have abused
Regardless of whether or not the President-elect is granted his Sunday sacraments, we ask again that he fight for Catholic children who have been molested, groomed, and raped by trusted clergy, religious brothers, seminarians, nuns, employees, and volunteers.
We urge the President-elect to open a national investigation into the scourge of sexual abuse perpetrated by powerful and wealthy religious institutions like the Catholic Church. We believe that crimes and cover-ups are still occurring today. SNAP has documented over 100 contemporaneous examples of Catholic abuse in the past three years, and hundreds of violations of the Bishop's own "zero-tolerance" pledge.
The only way to end the scandals and get to the bottom of the dysfunction within the Catholic Church and other institutions is with secular oversight, like that now occurring in Buffalo NY, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where attorneys general have flexed their authority to subpoena records and make arrests. We implore the incoming federal administration to follow their example and take immediate action on this important issue.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)