Weldon Report has Impacts for Diocesan Review Board
A recently released report into the sexual abuse and cover-up by a former Springfield bishop has had serious ripple effects at the diocesan level. Once again, this report and any acrimony that arises from it is further proves to us that diocesan review boards are ripe for corruption and bias. The only proper investigatory authority is an unbiased secular agency, such as the District Attorney, the Attorney General, or an impaneled Grand Jury.
The fact that longtime members of the Springfield board are resigning, feel misled, and allege that they were misled by diocesan employees, is proof these secret kangaroo courts don't benefit victims, truth, healing or child safety. This latest story out of Springfield corroborates an AP investigation from last year that laid bare the truth that survivors and advocates have talked about for years: review boards too often put the reputation of the institution above care for survivors and the protection of children
We call on the new bishop to clean house, abolish review boards and to turn over all files - secret and otherwise - to an independent, secular law enforcement agency that can investigate the crimes and cover-ups of Springfield Diocese.
We are grateful for the work done by Judge Peter Velis and his thorough job of investigating the Weldon matter. Weldon is one of 45 bishops in the United States known to have sexually abused children. There are dozens of other high-ranking Catholic priests nationwide - vicar generals, chancellors, deans, who also abusers. The fact is, the higher in the hierarchy a priest rose, the less likely he was to be confronted or stopped. Each of these hierarchs deserve their own 350 page investigatory report. The information that comes out of those sorts of efforts are what will improve safety within the Catholic church.
Once again, we believe that the only way to get all information out about abuse and cover-ups, both historical and ongoing, is for involvement by state attorney generals who, armed with subpoena power, can compel testimony under oath and force secrets out into the open. So far only half of attorney generals have committed to looking deeper into clergy abuse – we hope that stories like this will encourage renewed effort from law enforcement officials nationwide.
(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)