The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Sex abuse victims blast Scranton bishop
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Today, we learned via news accounts, that Scranton’s Catholic bishop secretly suspended a credibly accused predator priest (Fr. Mark Honhart) almost five weeks ago without alerting the public. Shame on him.
By their secrecy, Scranton church officials have given a suspected criminal weeks to intimidate victims threaten witnesses discredit whistleblowers destroy evidence fabricate alibis and even flee the country.
For eight years, America’s Catholic bishops have pledged to be “open and transparent” about clergy sex abuse cases. Bishop Bambera has violated that pledge and, as a result, kept innocent kids in harm’s way. How will Bambera feel if we learn at some point that this predator priest molested a girl last week because her parents weren’t told he’d been suspended?
If Bambera really wants to stop abuse, why won’t he post predators priests’ names online like 24 of his colleagues across the US have done?
According to the independent researchers at BishopAccountability.org, 19Scranton priests are publicly accused child pedophiles. (We strongly suspect the real figure is much higher.) So it’s disingenuous for Scranton’s bishop to claim he cares about kids while helping to keep the identities and whereabouts of these predators hidden.
Had this brave victim not filed a lawsuit, we suspect Bambera might have never alerted the public about this credibly accused child molester. We urge Scranton Catholics to challenge their bishop to explain and apologize for his reckless and callous secrecy.
(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])
Posted on: 03-8-2011 Posted in: News
Diocese of Scranton Statement Regarding Fr. Mark Honhart
The Diocese of Scranton was notified by the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph that a lawsuit was to be filed by an individual under the pseudonym, John Doe J.D. The unnamed individual claims to have been abused in the 1980s by two former priests of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph, Fr. Hugh Monahan and Fr. Mark Honhart.
Fr. Honhart was ordained in the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph, Missouri in 1980. He requested to serve in the Diocese of Scranton in 2003 after his mother and sister had relocated to Pennsylvania. In reviewing his request, there were no complaints or concerns brought to the Diocese of Scranton’s attention and Fr. Honhart’s request was granted.
Beginning in July 2004, Fr. Honhart served as assistant pastor of St. Rose of Lima, Carbondale; administrator of St. Anthony, St. Bridget, and St. John the Baptist, Throop; administrator of Our Lady Help of Christians, Dorrance; assistant pastor of Sacred Heart and St. Joseph, Forest City (now Ascension Parish); and St. James, Pleasant Mount, and St. Julianna, Rock Lake (now St. Katharine Drexel Parish).
On February 2, 2011, the Diocese of Scranton received an allegation that Fr. Honhart, while he was serving in the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph in the 1980s, had committed an act of sexual misconduct. In response to the allegation, the Diocese of Scranton immediately removed Fr. Honhart from ministry. The Diocese of Scranton then informed the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph and local public authorities of the allegation
Priest removed from ministry after sex allegations
By Libby A. Nelson (Staff Writer) Published: March 9, 2011
A priest who has served in parishes across Northeast Pennsylvania was removed from the ministry in February after allegations surfaced that he sexually abused a young boy in Missouri in the 1980s.
A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Jackson County, Mo., accused the Rev. Mark Honhart, who has worked most recently in parishes in Carbondale, Throop and Forest City, of molesting an 8- or 9-year-old boy in Kansas City, Mo., where he served for more than 20 years.
When the alleged victim, now 37, was a pupil at a diocese school in Kansas City, he got in trouble repeatedly for chewing gum in class and was fined $15, according to the suit. His parents arranged a deal for him to work off the fine. While he was cleaning windows and bathrooms after school, Father Honhart allegedly forced him to perform oral sex and performed oral sex on him, according to the suit.
The abuse occurred more than once, said the alleged victim, who is not named in the lawsuit. A few years later, he said, he was also abused by another priest in the same parish, then-Rev. Hugh Monahan. Mr. Monahan, who has been accused of molesting other boys in the 1970s and 1980s, left the priesthood in 1989, according to The Associated Press.
Both men are named as defendants, as well as the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The diocese knew or should have known of previous abuse allegations regarding both priests, the lawsuit argues.
The victim "engaged involuntary psychological coping measures," the suit said, and did not recall his abuse until he underwent counseling for marital issues in 2009.
"These priests belong behind bars," said Abott Durocher, a Kansas City leader of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in a statement. "Until that happens, however, their church supervisors should make sure they are away from kids in a remote, secure, professionally-run treatment center."
The Diocese of Scranton learned of the allegations Feb. 2 and immediately removed Father Honhart from the ministry, diocese spokesman Bill Genello said in a statement Tuesday evening. It also notified the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese as well as public authorities.
Father Honhart, who was ordained in Kansas City in 1980, requested a transfer to the Scranton diocese in 2003 to be closer to his mother and sister, who lived in Warren, Mr. Genello said in the statement. No complaints about Father Honhart were brought to the diocese's attention at the time.
Beginning in July 2004, Father Honhart worked in parishes across the region, including St. Rose of Lima, Carbondale, where he was an assistant pastor.
He was an administrator at St. Anthony, St. Bridget and St. John the Baptist, Throop; Ascension Parish, Forest City; St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Rock Lake; and Our Lady Help of Christians, Dorrance.
Efforts to locate Father Honhart on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Contact the writer: [email protected]
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests