Catholic Man Challenges Church over Sex Abuse
Compelled: Former Victim Protests Archdiocese's Actions
By Nicole Tsong email@example.com
Daily News [Anchorage, Alaska]
April 24, 2003
An 85-year-old Anchorage man, angered that Catholic Church officials here failed to grant the same honors to the victims of an abusive priest as were recently given to the priest himself, staged a public protest Wednesday in which he revealed his own sexual exploitation by an itinerant priest nearly three-quarters of a century ago.
With television cameras rolling, Vincent Doran, a World War II bomber pilot who still works part time designing sewage treatment plants, engaged in a modern re-enactment of sorts of Martin Luther's 16th-century protest of church corruption.
Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church in Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation. Doran used packaging tape to affix his poster to a metal door of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in West Anchorage, accusing "good priests" of complicity by not speaking out against abusers. He also proposed a series of reforms that would protect children in at least his own parish.
[Go to link listed above to see terrific photo.]
Doran said he was molested when he was 10 and again at 13 in Washington. But he said he felt compelled to act after fellow parishioners at Our Lady of Guadalupe acted as if they were in denial about reports that the Rev. Timothy Crowley molested a boy in Michigan.
Last June, former Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley revealed that he had agreed to give an administrative job to Crowley years ago at the request of the bishop in Lansing, Mich. Though he worked at the archdiocese offices, Crowley lived at Our Lady of Guadalupe and occasionally celebrated Mass there, but as the church's sexual abuse scandal unfolded, Crowley was removed from the priesthood. He still lives in Anchorage.
After some parishioners dedicated a Mass to Crowley and Crowley wrote a farewell message that Doran thought attempted to cast the priest as victim, Doran asked that the people who Crowley hurt be similarly honored at a Mass.
Instead, the dedication to that Mass was simply published in the parish bulletin as "private." Doran said the parish priest, the Rev. Vincent Blanco, told him that the archdiocese office vetoed the idea of a public honor.
Blanco declined to be interviewed. The Rev. Charles McBride, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said he never saw Doran's request.
Regardless of how it happened, the event spurred Doran to take action.
After a Mass in the fall, Doran revealed his abuse to his congregation and said there was a need for a new watchdog group to protect children.
"I thought it was time to rouse the congregation to pay attention to what was going on in the Catholic Church around us," he said.
On Wednesday, he said six people agreed to serve on the Children's Protection Council.
"Even though our hierarchy has been slow to act, we don't have to be slow to act," he said.
The group plans to investigate priests assigned to their parish by writing letters to former parishioners and conducting background checks. As for their current priest, Blanco, they don't think he has done anything wrong but still are requiring that a member of the group be with him whenever he's with a child.
Archbishop Roger Schwietz said in a statement that he has no public comment on Doran's group until he learns more about the man's concerns. Blanco referred questions to the Archdiocese of Anchorage's office.
After hanging his 4-foot banner, Doran told the assembled media, "The Catholic Church in the United States is in crisis because of evil pervert priests."
"It simply must be stopped," he said.
Doran said he was first molested when he was 10 years old, living in Ephrata, Wash., by a missionary priest who came through for a week and cornered him every day, he said. Three years later, a priest molested him at his Catholic boarding school in Lacey, Wash. But he was older and knew to stay away after that, he said.
He never told anyone about the abuse, not even his wife, he said. But he became concerned last year when reports about Crowley's abuse arose.
After he spoke out at a Mass last fall, several parishioners approached and sympathized with him, he said. But it didn't spark anyone to work on the group. So, despite his age, he organized the council.
The group also intends to lobby the Legislature to amend the Alaska Law on Child Protection by adding "members of clergy" to the list of those required to report cases of sexual abuse.
And if the archdiocese assigns a priest whom the group doesn't approve of, Doran said members would protest.
He said he doesn't know if other parishes in the country have done this. He hopes others follow the lead of the group.
Barbara Britch, a fellow parishioner, said she lost a lot of faith in the church when Crowley's background was revealed. But she worked on the council with Doran.
"It's helped renew my faith, because I feel like I can help," she said.
Doran added, "We love the Catholic Church and feel that we can't let a few people ruin it."
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