The Vatican Owes Survivors a Response, Morally and According to Canon Law
On Friday, October 9, 2020, the New Orleans Chapter of SNAP and its Executive Director mailed a letter to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC, and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) to ask for a Vatican investigation of Archbishop Gregory Aymond. Thus far, our letter has garnered no response.
Last night, two New Orleans journalists reported a similar lack of response when telling the story of a survivor who reported an allegation to the Archbishop two years ago. Catholic officials gave him a settlement but did NOT investigate the accusation at that time. Instead, the Vicar General for the Archdiocese stated that an investigation on Fr. Paul Calamari began only last week.
So far, eleven clergy abuse survivors from SNAP New Orleans have sent letters to the Apostolic Nunciature, the CDF, and to Archbishop Aymond. A canon lawyer, Fr. Charles Benoit, was appointed to respond to those queries on behalf of the Archbishop. Yet even though Canon Law dictates that all allegations of abuse require investigation, Fr. Benoit has only provided multiple and unreasonable justifications about why the Archdiocese of New Orleans has not followed Canon Law both in writing and by telephone.
Fr. Patrick Wattigny was arrested as a fugitive in Georgia and extradited back to Louisiana to face criminal charges for the sexual abuse of a minor while he was a priest in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Fr. Travis Clark is out on bond after being arrested for public indecency after having sex with two dominatrices on his altar in Pearl River, LA. It is clear that there is a problem in New Orleans, but Catholic officials in Rome appear content to ignore it.
Just last month, Pope Francis removed Bishop Edward Janiak of Poland for not following Canon Law and reporting abuse allegations to the Vatican. We call on Catholic officials in Rome to stop speaking out of both sides of their mouths. We strongly urge the Pope to respond to our request of October 9th and send Vatican investigators to New Orleans. We are confident that those investigators will uncover generations of crimes committed by clergy on faithful followers of the Catholic Church that require Canonical prosecution.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)