Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ex-Toledo chancellor honored; Sex abuse victims respond

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])

As a top ranking diocesan manager, Billian was a key part of a small group of Catholic officials who ignored and concealed child sex crimes. For Bishop Blair and the Pope to honor him with this exalted title is extraordinarily callous. It rubs salt into the already deep wounds of clergy sex abuse victims. And it sends a dangerous signal: if you act irresponsibly with the safety of children, you’ll still get rewarded in the Toledo diocese.

(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

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [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])

10 Toledo diocesan priests receive papal honor

ByDAVID YONKE BLADE RELIGION EDITOR, Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ten priests in the Toledo Catholic Diocese have been given the title of “monsignor,” a term of distinction that honors clergy for their services to the church.

Toledo Bishop Leonard Blair, in announcing the honors Tuesday, said he submitted a request to Pope Benedict XVI and the Pope made the appointments.

Prior to the appointments, the diocese had one current monsignor, Msgr. Edward Dunn, now retired.

“The title means that a priest has been made an honorary member of the Pope's own household,” Bishop Blair said in a statement. “Some monsignors are honorary ‘chaplains' to the Pope; others are honorary ‘prelates.' This is in keeping with a centuries-old tradition.”

Msgr. Charles Singler, one of the priests to receive the title, said Tuesday, “I am just awed by this honor and I see it as an affirmation of the Vatican toward our own diocesan presbyterate.”

Bishop Blair said the timing of his request for the appointments was linked to the diocese's 100th anniversary.

“The fact that this is a papal honor underscores, on the occasion of our centenary, the close bonds of communion between our local church and the Holy Father in Rome,” he said.

Bishop Blair said he intended “to recognize the service of all of our priests by honoring a few representatives out of the many who so faithfully teach, sanctify, and shepherd the people of God.”

The bishop said the title is “simply a title of respect derived from Signore, the Italian equivalent of ‘Mister.'?”

The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary, which traces the origin of the word to the Italian for “my lord,” noted that monsignori are entitled to wear violet vestments.- The 10 Toledo diocesan priests appointed monsignori by Pope Benedict, with criteria cited by Bishop Blair, were:

• The Rev. Cleo Schmenk and the Rev. Bertrand Shenk, chosen “from among the senior priests.”

• The Rev. Michael Hohenbrink and the Rev. Dennis Metzger, “pastors of the diocese's two largest parishes.”

• The Rev. Michael Billian and the Rev. Marvin Borger, vicars general, and the Rev. Christopher Vasko, judicial vicar, “who hold an office of service in the diocesan curia traditionally associated with the title of monsignor.”

• The Rev. William Kubacki, the Rev. Kenneth Morman, and Monsignor Singler, “who in a number of assignments have exercised ministries that serve the whole diocese.”

Some observers said the appointments of monsignori became less common after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

“It used to be more common that a bishop would reward loyal and productive clergy, and then it sort of fell out of favor in some dioceses,” said Richard Gaillardetz, professor of Catholic studies at the University of Toledo.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Institute at Georgetown University, said some leaders in the priesthood refused the title after Vatican II, considering it to be “medieval, clerical, and hierarchical — all the things they were trying to push aside for a more collegial church. There was a feeling that ‘we're all equal, we're all ordained priests, we're all brothers. There shouldn't be these kinds of titles.' The word itself means ‘my lord.' … It's like a title of nobility.”

But appointing a priest a monsignor remains one of the few ways that a bishop can reward priests who do a good job and clerics who are loyal to him, Father Reese added.

The Toledo diocese, founded in 1910, has 151 parishes with 301,000 members in 19 counties. There were 130 active and 60 retired diocesan priests in 2007, the latest figures available.

Contact David Yonke at: [email protected] or 419-724-6154.

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