A couple of weeks ago, a memorial Mass for Michael was held here in Birmingham at the Cathedral. The bishop presided and offered a very nice, even charming homily in which he first focused on the Scripture readings of the day, and then turned to Michael, whom he remembered, among other things, as one who […]
Last week, Bishop Accountability had a “Fireside Chat” with Susan Archibald, Jason Berry, David Clohessy, Tom Doyle, and Richard Sipe, all people deeply involved with reporting on, studying and supporting victims of clerical sexual abuse.
I found this statement by David Clohessy of SNAP particularly on point:
Like the other panelists, I’m obviously not convinced that the problem is over, and let me get real specific as to why. Two simple reasons: because of what we are seeing now in terms of bishops’ behaviors and in terms of what we aren’t seeing now. One of the benefits of going last is that I made a list of seven priests very quickly; this is the evidence of course that the crisis is not over. Father John Calicott in Chicago admitted sexual misconduct with two teenage boys, was removed twice by two different bishops, and has been revealed in the last couple of days to have been teaching religious education and sex education at the very parish from which he was forbidden to serve. Monsignor Ryan in Connecticut admitted to molesting a teenage girl; the diocese admitted that there were two others they paid a six-figure settlement. He is the pastor now of suburban parish. Bishop Lori says it was an incident, it was twenty-five years ago, no offenses since then, he has been in treatment, haven’t we heard this before? Father Alex Anderson in St. Louis, facing two allegations of sexual abuse, two public allegations, two court documents, and yet still serving in a big suburban parish as the pastor of that parish. And the archdiocese and officials find both of these young men, who have never met one another, not credible. Father Powers in Kentucky, a civil lawsuit was settled against him, his victim, Karen [Welby], took her own life. He serves right now in a parish. Father Poole, also in Kentucky, again a six-figure, a six-figure civil settlement, coupled with not one, but two criminal convictions for indecent exposure, and he has just been restored by the Bishop of Lexington. Father Walter Fernando in California, facing not only a civil lawsuit, as Paul said some hundreds of California Priests are, but also a target of a criminal investigation that has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, still the pastor. And finally, here I will leave you on a positive note, Father John Leonard in Richmond Virginia, multiple accusations, multiple civil lawsuits, plead guilty last week. Was accused of molesting, three counts of child sexual abuse, pled down to two counts; pled guilty on two counts of assault on a child. Was still pastor and three days after his plea agreement, voluntarily stepped down. So, I think it’s very clear unfortunately that the crisis is far from over.
….This Calicott situation in Chicago, the reason that he’s been teaching sex education, and religious education, the reason he is at the parish from which he was removed twice, virtually everyday, according to the Chicago Sun Times, the reason he spends three or four nights a week in that rectory, according to the Chicago Tribune, is because the pastor, Father Miller, doesn’t believe in zero tolerance and has invited Father Calicott back and still considers Father Calicott in effect the pastor. Now today’s Chicago papers reports that Cardinal George in his infinite wisdom has determined that Father Calicott has violated the charter. But, there is no mention of Father Miller. And, I think we will know that the crisis has begun to end and that real change is happening when we see Cardinal George on TV tonight saying “I have removed Father Miller, the pastor, the man who should have known better, and I have yanked his health insurance. I have yanked his pension.” [applause] And, I don’t mean to sound mean spirited or vindictive, but, I would love to hear the Cardinal say, “And let Father Miller sue me to the highest civil court in the land and the highest Vatican court, and maybe he’ll win I don’t care. But, I am going to send a very clear signal that in my diocese, you know, there is something that is almost as bad as molesting a child and that is enabling a molester.” [applause] Because, let’s face it there none among us, there’s no one among us who believes that any kind of punitive approach will fundamentally deter a compulsive sex offender from hurting kids. But, presumably, diocesan leadership, and presumably good priests, non-abusive priests, I have to believe in my heart of hearts, will be deterred from remaining silent. If they see one of the brother priests like Father Miller in Chicago, out on the street for such a flagrant violation of what bishops have promised us time and time again.