The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, September 23, 2010
Statement regarding Joliet, Illinois Bishop
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])
This is a sad but simple situation, one of the very worst we’ve seen in recent years. In five sentences, here’s what happened:
1. -In the spring of 2009, prosecutors say that church officials caught a seminarian with porn and some of the images appeared to be young boys.
2. -Joliet church officials kept this secret but were worried enough that they allegedly told the seminarian to stay away from kids.
3. -Just weeks later, Joliet’s bishop ordained the sexually troubled man anyway.
4. -Last Friday, the young priest pled guilty to molesting a boy as recently as January 2010.
5. -And on the very same day, last Friday, the Pope promoted Joliet’s bishop to head the Seattle’s archdiocese.
This may be the most disturbing case we’ve seen anywhere since the 2005 case of Fr. Daniel McCormack in Chicago.
Like the McCormack case, all this wrongdoing happened long after America’s bishops pledged to reform and be “open and transparent” about clergy sexual misconduct.
Like the McCormack case, Flores’ crimes happened years after church officials claim they began better screening of potential priests.
Like McCormack, Flores is a young, recently ordained priest.
Like McCormack, Flores was caught involved in sexual impropriety but not prosecuted.
Like McCormack, after being caught, Flores was also moved up in the church hierarchy.
Like McCormack, alleged restrictions were put on Flores but few, if any, were told about them.
Like McCormack, Flores is accused of molesting more than one child.
Like McCormack, with Flores, devastating child sex crimes could have been stopped sooner and perhaps prevented.
Here is perhaps the most outrageous part of this sad situation:
In the McCormack case, within a year of his conviction, almost every church official involved was promoted.
And in the Flores case, within a week of his conviction, Bishop Sartain was promoted.
One reason this is particularly outrageous: Cardinal George MAY not have known of McCormack’s misdeeds before McCormack was ordained, but it’s pretty clear that Bishop Sartain DID know of Flores’ misdeeds before Flores was ordained. (Remember: Joliet is a relatively small diocese and Joliet church officials have not tried to blame underlings for the wrongdoing and secrecy about Flores, like Chicago church officials did with the wrongdoing and secrecy about McCormack.)
Let’s face it: bad men get good jobs lots of places. Bad men molest kids in lots of places. But in few places do bad men get promoted after hiding and enabling the sexual misdeeds and crimes of their employees. One of those few places, however, is the Catholic church.
We realize that it’s possible, even likely, that no one in the Vatican knew Sartain acted so recklessly and secretively and deceptively about Flores. (There are, after all, thousands of bishops across the world.) But now that Sartain’s irresponsible actions have been made public by the prosecutor, and now that we’ve written the Pope, the Vatican must act if Benedict’s recent pledges of reform are to have any credibility.
The church hierarchy simply can’t keep promoting bishops who ignore, conceal or enable heinous child sex crimes. If it does, this long-standing, devastating scandal will simply continue and children will keep getting needlessly raped, sodomized and fondled by Catholic clerics.
So today, we’re seeking two things:
1. To inform the public and deter future recklessness, we are asking Kane County prosecutors to publicly disclose the evidence that would have been presented had Flores gone to trial, especially evidence that Joliet church officials saw but essentially ignored and minimized the “warning signs” of abuse in Flores’ behavior.
2. To honor his pledges of “openness” and leave a more healed flock behind him, we are asking Joliet’s Catholic bishop to ‘come clean’ and answer questions at an open public meeting about ‘what he knew and when he knew it’ about Flores’ sexually misconduct.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests