The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Group blasts bishop for school’s new name
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])
There are thousands of devout Catholic lay people and saints and priests who never once ignored or concealed clergy sex crimes. Name the school after any of them. But not, as Pittsburgh’s Bishop Zubik is doing, after his predecessor, Archbishop Donald Wuerl (now of DC).
Why rub salt into already deep and still fresh wounds of suffering clergy sex abuse victims and disillusioned Catholics by naming it after Wuerl?
In Louisiana, one school, named after a Catholic bishop, had to be re-named when it was discovered that the bishop had molested kids.
That likely won't happen with Wuerl. But who knows what evidence may yet surface showing his complicity in clergy sex crimes and cover ups. (Remember, just last year damning evidence emerged from decades ago that the pope ignored and concealed crimes in his home diocese in Germany.)
Wuerl was a Pittsburgh Catholic official from 1988 to 2006 and a Wash DC church official from 2006 until now. Is there a single person who really believes Wuerl handled each and every clergy sex abuse and cover up case in those two dioceses perfectly?
Somewhere there’s a woman who was raped as a child by a Pittsburgh priest. She feels doubly betrayed because she was treated callously or deceptively by a Pittsburgh church official when she reported the crime to them. How will she feel when she learns that a school will be named in honor of Wuerl? She’ll feel betrayed a third time.
Why would Catholic officials take this risk? How can Zubik be so callous?
Consider just a few aspects of Wuerl’s track record on abuse:
As best we can tell, Wuerl has done nothing to warn his flock about or reach out to other victims of these clerics.
Wuerl, like Mahony and Dolan, is one of the most PR-savvy bishops in the world. But he has essentially been just as determined, and even more successful, than his peers in keeping child sex cases quiet.
During his tenure in Pittsburgh, he benefited from some of the nation’s most restrictive and predator-friendly laws which effectively blocked all but a tiny handful of victims from bringing criminal or civil charges against pedophile priests and exposing corrupt church officials. Wuerl is one of a handful of US Catholic prelates who assiduously works at burnishing his public image and has escaped much of the scrutiny on his misdeeds with the church’s on-going clergy sex scandal.
He dodged a bullet when, years ago, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling tossed out dozens of civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits, any of which could have exposed stunning deceit, callousness and recklessness in the Pittsburgh diocese.
In 2004, we said this about Wuerl: “While publicly posturing as a "reformer" on this issue, he allows his PR staff to attack the motives of victims and their attorneys, and refuses to publicly name known and suspected abusive clergy. He bought one half hour of prime time local television to run basically a selr-serving "infomercial" about how well his diocese is handling abuse, but refused to allow a victim on the panel. Wuerl has ignored requests to help warn West Virginia families about an abusive priest from Pittsburgh (Fr. Jack Hoehl) who is now practicing in that state as a counselor.”
Some give Wuerl credit for defrocking a predator priest, Anthony Cipolla, in 2002, claiming Wuerl moved more quickly against Cipolla than some of his brother bishops did against child molesting clerics. That’s the wrong yardstick, however.
One reason we’re in this mess – with hundreds of thousands of kids across the globe molested by tens of thousands of priests – is because bishops cover for one another and refuse to even verbally rebuke their most corrupt colleagues. For bishops, it’s a comfortable and safe culture. For most of the rest of the church and society, it’s dangerous and unhealthy. Rather than fight this sick culture, Zubik is perpetuating it.
There are thousands of devout Catholic lay people and saints and priests who never once ignored or concealed clergy sex crimes. Name the school after any of them. But not after a bishop who, like most of his colleagues, is more concerned with his own reputation than with children’s safety.
(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 23 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])
Catholic high school in Cranberry will carry Wuerl name
Saturday, April 02, 2011-By Ann Rodgers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When a new Catholic high school building opens in Cranberry in fall 2013, it will bear the name of a Pittsburgh native and longtime local bishop.
"I was really deeply honored by this extraordinary privilege to have this new educational enterprise in the North Hills associated in any way with me," said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School won't be an entirely new enterprise. It will relocate North Catholic High School in Troy Hill, keeping its Marianist religious tradition while expanding with new programs. The projected $54 million to $60 million cost is the largest construction project in recent diocesan history, and is to be raised by a capital campaign.
The new school will be built on 70 acres along Route 228 across from St. Kilian Catholic Elementary School. Planners anticipate up to 1,000 students.
"Our goal is to create the pre-eminent private co-educational high school situation in the fastest growing population center in southwestern Pennsylvania," said the Rev. Kris Stubna, secretary for Catholic education of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
"Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School will be a model of Catholic education for the entire country -- academic excellence, value-centered, faith-filled and family-based."
Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh said that the cardinal, his mentor, earned the honor.
"In recognition of the tremendous contributions made by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl ... during his 18 years as bishop of Pittsburgh and his nationally recognized leadership in Catholic education, it is most fitting that we will dedicate this exciting project in his name," he said.
During Cardinal Wuerl's 1988-2006 tenure as bishop, he was forced to close several high schools and merge others as the diocese grappled with the region's population loss. That was painful for the cardinal and made the name all the more meaningful.
Bishop Zubik "has taken the focus on Catholic education to a whole new level," he said. "He's looking to the future, and that's what this school is all about. We had to go through a good bit of consolidation years ago, but we also were able to put into place policies that stabilized the schools."
Cardinal Wuerl is eager to see the school built and dedicated.
"I'd be thrilled to be invited back when that time comes. In the meantime, I will be praying for the success of the whole effort," he said.
Ann Rodgers: [email protected] or 412-263-1416.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests