The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Priest removed from parish; clergy sex abuse victims respond
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, [email protected])
We strongly urge Arkansas’ Catholic bishop to be more honest and forthcoming about a just-suspended Catholic priest and the allegations that have been leveled against him. We are disappointed with his very limited and vague disclosure so far.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor is being extraordinarily unclear with parishioners, and as best we can tell, totally secretive with the public, about accusations against Fr. Charles Kanu, who was ousted from Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Marche on January 14, 2010.
Taylor said only a few sentences to Kanu’s most recent parishioners in a sermon delivered in church on January 15, 2011 (A copy of the sermon is below.)
Taylor says the allegations “did not involve misbehavior with minors” and he implies, but doesn’t say, the accusations are “non-criminal.” In our view, that’s so vague as to be meaningless. It’s also likely a decision best made by the independent and experienced professionals in law enforcement, not by the biased, untrained historically secretive church hierarchy.
The alleged wrongdoing didn’t happen at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish, Taylor claims. If that’s the truth, then Taylor has an even greater duty to alert the public about the accusation. Taylor’s short, vague sermon at Immaculate Heart of Mary won’t help those who have been wounded elsewhere, whether non-Catholics or Catholics at different churches.
If Taylor “comes clean” and says the priest allegedly mishandled funds, parishioners might look for and found evidence that he took money from them too.
If Taylor “comes clean” and says the priest allegedly violated confidentiality in a counseling session, parishioners might compassionately reach out to former church members who were counseled by the priest and see if they too were mistreated.
If Taylor “comes clean” and says the priest allegedly sexually exploited an adult, parishioners might compassionately reach out to former church members who were counseled by the priest and see if they too were mistreated.
When possible wrongdoing is revealed, other witnesses, victims and whistleblowers are more likely to come forward and contact authorities, both religious and secular. That often sheds important light on unclear situations It’s possible that the allegations are untrue. It’s also possible, but highly unlikely, that they are relatively minor. (Given the shortage of priests and the strong tendency of bishops to protect their clergy, rarely are priests suspended over minor infractions.)
Taylor says the priest admits “that he had failed to comply with certain conditions that were placed on his continuing ministry.”
(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, [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])
Homily for the 2nd Sunday Yr A 2011--Removal of Fr. Charles Kanu
by Bishop Anthony B Taylor on Saturday, 15 January 2011 at 12:13
To be preached at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish, Marché, AR on January 15-16, 2011 to explain to the parishioners why I had to remove Fr. Charles Kanu from his assignment as administrator of that parish.
John the Baptist is one of the most interesting people in the entire New Testament and he appears 8 times in the Gospels read during December and January. The story of his birth is intertwined with that of Jesus: both conceived under extraordinary circumstances--one mother a virgin, the other elderly--meaning that God had already chosen each of them for a special role in his plan of salvation. They were relatives on their mothers’ side but raised so far apart from each other--Jesus in Galilee, John in Judea--that when they first met as adults they weren’t aware that they were relatives. In today’s Gospel John says: I did not know him and Jesus--who already knew about John’s ministry--never says anything about them being family. I find that very surprising, given the great importance of the extended family in that culture, plus all the work John did to pave the way for Jesus’ ministry. Today’s Gospel contains a good summary of John’s role: 1) to prepare the way for the Messiah, 2) give witness to him when he comes, and then 3) step aside in favor of him.. And how did John the Baptist fulfill his role?
First, he called people to repentance. He did what he could to address the evils of his day—that’s what cost him his head! He tried to get people to reform their lives.
Second, John gave witness to Jesus once he learned he was the Messiah, having heard the voice from heaven declare him to be the Son of God and seen the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove: the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world.
You and I are called to prepare the way for Jesus too, to give witness to him and then like John, to let him increase while we decrease. The Reign of God proclaimed by John has already been inaugurated by Jesus but will only be fully present at the end of time. John’s role was to prepare for Jesus’ 1st Coming…ours is to prepare for his 2nd Coming! Meaning that we too must address the evils of our day. And like John, we must do so humbly, not for our own glory but rather for the greater glory of God.
This task of addressing the evils of our day is the most unpleasant thing I ever have to do as your shepherd, but my care of you—my flock—requires me to intervene whenever credible allegations of misconduct are lodged against one of our priests, and what makes my task today doubly sad is that I recognize how well and warmly you have received Fr. Charles into the life our your parish. The allegations I received did not involve misbehavior with minors and they concern actions alleged to have occurred at locations other than his current assignment here in Marché. The procedures of the Diocese of Little Rock for handling allegations of non-criminal professional misconduct were followed. The preliminary investigation undertaken on Friday was inconclusive, but in the course of this preliminary investigation it came to light by Fr. Charles’ own admission that he had failed to comply with certain conditions that were placed on his continuing ministry in Arkansas. Therefore, I have followed diocesan policy and suspended Fr. Charles’ faculties to function as a priest, effective immediately, and have removed him from your parish pending a more complete investigation.
In the meantime, I have asked Msgr. Bernard Malone to come out of retirement temporarily to take care of your parish until I am able to provide you with a new pastor or administrator, which I hope will be soon. Msgr. Malone will begin here on January 25. The 3 priests serving St. Joseph in Conway will back Msgr. Malone up, and they will be covering Masses here next weekend. Please give Msgr. Malone and the priests from Conway your full support, and keep everyone—especially Fr. Charles—in your prayers.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests