Washington DC--Pope must stop predators moving overseas
Pope must stop predators moving overseas
SNAP: “Take passports from accused clerics”
More alleged molesters flee abroad, group says
But church officials often claim to be powerless
One “outed” last month as having worked in MD, VA & NJ
He claims two fellow diocesan staffers told him “get on a plane”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, and citing three journalistic investigations, clergy sex abuse victims will call on
--US bishops to stop predator priests from evading justice by fleeing abroad and keep them from working in parishes, and
--Pope Francis to harshly punish bishops (including one in Newark and several in South America) who enable this “reckless practice” to continue.
They want all Catholic officials – in Rome and the US for starters- to insist that clerics accused or suspected of child sex crimes give their passports to their bishop, so they can’t escape abroad.
And they will discuss the recent case of an admitted predator priest who says two church colleagues told him to fly to South America when a victim reported his abuse. They will urge Catholic officials in DC, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey (where the cleric worked) to
--contact former church members and staff about him seeking victims, witnesses and whistleblowers,
--publicly beg their church colleagues in Ecuador to keep him away from children, and
-- aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by the priest (with pulpit announcements, church bulletins and parish websites).
Monday, Sept. 21 at 1:30 p.m.
Outside the US Conference of Catholic Bishops headquarters, 3211 4th street, NE in Washington DC
3 to 4 members of an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri woman who is the organization’s long time outreach director
A year-long investigation by Global Post made public last week reveals that at least five predator priests from the US and Europe were quietly moved to South America where they continued to work in ministry. This is a trend, SNAP says, that is increasing: child molesting clerics being sent abroad to evade justice. The group suspects there are hundreds of “proven, admitted, and credibly accused” abusive clergy working who’ve moved to other nations.
The Post’s findings mirror similar investigations made in 2013 by the Chicago Tribune and an even more thorough one in 2004 by Dallas Morning News.
The Tribune found that “Since 1985, at least 32 priests have left the US for foreign countries while facing criminal charges or a police investigation over (child sex) allegations. Only five have been returned to the U.S. to face trial.”
Last week, a new Global Post report revealed five accused priests still working in Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Peru. One admitted on camera to molesting a 13-year-old boy while in Mississippi diocese. “All five were able to continue working as priests, despite criminal investigations or cash payouts to alleged victims.”
For the safety of parishioners and the public, SNAP wants Pope Francis to “defrock, demote or discipline” bishops who keep “sending and receiving predators from other countries.” Specifically, they want the pontiff to punish Newark Archbishop John Myers for “doing nothing” about Fr. Manuel Gallo Espinoza. Fr. Espinoza is now still teaching even though he admits to and is being sued for child sex crimes.
In a recent interview with the Newark Star Ledger, the priest says that when an abuse accusation against him was made, two Newark Catholic officials urged him to fly home. Archbishop Myers, however, has been silent about Fr. Espinoza and refuses to even investigate the claim that two of his staff prodded the priest to flee abroad.
In 2003, Fr. Espinoza escaped to Ecuador for two years. He then return to the US. From 2005-2008, he worked at Beville Middle School (703-878-2593) in Woodbridge Virginia in the Arlington diocese. And from 2008-2014, the priest also taught at Parkdale High School (310-513-5700) in Prince George's County, Maryland.
DC’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Arlington’s Bishop Paul Loverde are ignoring SNAP’s plea to “aggressively urge anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes or cover ups by Fr. Espinoza to contact law enforcement.” If more victims, witnesses or whistleblowers step forward, SNAP says, Fr. Espinoza may be charged with more crimes “which will increase the chances that he’ll be extradited, convicted and imprisoned, making everyone safer and deterring similar crimes and cover ups in the future.”
For the safety of parishioners, SNAP also wants all three US bishops involved (in VA, MD and NJ) to write their colleagues in Ecuador begging them to keep Fr. Espinoza away from kids and out of parishes.
Predator priests still kept working is not just a “foreign” problem, SNAP says. The group cites a dozen “proven, admitted or credibly accused predator priests in the US who are, in fact, are still in church jobs here:
In part, SNAP believes, the practice of sending predator priests abroad continues because Francis has not yet officially declared “zero tolerance” of abuse to be the church practice and policy worldwide. (It’s formally only been adopted in a handful of nations.)
And the group maintains that the practice of keeping predator priests in ministry in the US continues because Francis has not defrocked, demoted or disciplined even a single US church official for endangering kids.” Instead, he has done what his predecessors have done: quietly accepting the resignation of a US prelate, citing vague reasons, only after “his egregious cover ups result in an unmanageable diocese and a public relations disaster.”
Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Becky Ianni of Burke VA (703 801 6044, [email protected]), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Mark Crawford (732-632-7687, [email protected])