SNAP responds as yet another priest in the Ft. Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese is removed

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JANUARY 3, 2022)

SNAP responds as yet another priest in the Ft. Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese is removed

Fr. Eric Burgener, ordained in 2017 for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend,  has been removed from public ministry after the Diocese received "credible allegations" of "serious boundary violations" with an adult woman parishioner. In a letter to the faithful shared on New Year's Day, it was disclosed that the survivor came forward on December 5th. While it is unclear exactly when Fr. Burgener was forced to step down, we cannot help but wonder if the announcement was delayed until after the usually robust Christmas donations were collected.

SNAP applauds the brave woman who came forward to disclose the offense she suffered at the hands of a trusted clergyman. This is never an easy thing to do, and we are certainly glad that she had friends to support her through this ordeal. While the details of the "serious boundary violations" have not been disclosed at this time,  we trust that Catholic officials in Fort Wayne will immediately add Fr. Burgener to their list of abusers. Recent changes in canon law have made the abuse of adults by clergy a Church crime. If the accusations have not already been reported to law enforcement, we also hope that this will be done immediately as well, so that law enforcement professionals can determine whether or not this "boundary violation" also describes a secular crime.

Although sadly Indiana is not among them, thirteen states and the District of Columbia have criminal laws supporting the prosecution of clergy who engage in sexual misconduct with adults. This type of abuse is a heinous betrayal of trust and can cause serious trauma in the victim. The psychological grooming, along with the deep trust we hold for our spiritual leaders, makes it difficult to identify this as abuse until after the damage is done. However, there can be no true consent when a priest engages in sexual activity with his parishioners.

Interestingly, in a photo of Fr. Burgener’s ordination, another Ft Wayne priest who is expected to plead guilty to abuse charges, David Huneck, appeared directly behind the two new priests. Fr. Huneck was ordained the following year. This should serve as a potent reminder to the faithful and the public that the Catholic clergy abuse scandal is not a thing of the past, as Church officials frequently claim.

Fr. Burgener worked at St. Pius X in Granger but was most recently assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne. We beg the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend to immediately disclose Fr. Burgerner's complete work history, including any assignments he may have had as a seminarian.

SNAP resources for survivors are available at www.snapnetwork.org/resources_for_survivors. We have information as well as a weekly support group specifically for those who suffered clergy abuse as an adult.

Finally, we encourage anyone who may have experienced any harm or impropriety at the hands of a member of the clergy in Indiana to report this information directly to law enforcement.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Melanie Sakoda, Survivor Support Coordinator (925-708-6175, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386, [email protected])

(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 www.snapnetwork.org)

 


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  • Michael McDonnell
    published this page in Media Statements 2022-01-03 17:36:39 -0600

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