Activist Group Calls on Church to Remove All Images of Former Bishop

By Mark Schnyder
FWBIR TV [Knoxville TN]
Downloaded October 30, 2003

Some Catholic activists in Knoxville are calling on the church to remove all images of a former Knoxville bishop who admitted to molesting boys.

Members of the "Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests" or SNAP, say the picture of Bishop Anthony O'Connell on a wall at Knoxville Catholic High School is offensive and should come down.

Susan Vance, a co-director of SNAP and parent of a child who attends Knoxville Catholic says, "I'm sorry but when you rape boys, you leave yourself open to be not honored in ways you probably should have been had you been an upright person.

The school principal and other Catholic church leaders say that photo is among a group of pictures of priests and bishops who've had a significant impact on the school's growth.

Father Vann Johnston, the Chancellor of Knoxville Diocese

says the picture of Bishop O'Connell "is not a judgment of what type of job he did or value judgment on him. It's simply a recognition that in a certain period of our history, he was the bishop here."

The principal of Knoxville Catholic High says she's heard no complaints except from the members of SNAP.

She says the school in no way glorifies Bishop O'Connell.

"I think we should do exactly what we are doing at Knoxville Catholic," says the principal, Dr. Aurelia Montgomery. "And that is having Bishop O'Connell be a part of the history of our school."

"That's not what Knoxville Catholic is about," says SNAP co-director and parent, Mary Monroe-Ellis. "We should have more respect for the victims and children and the public than that.

SNAP would also like to see a bust of Bishop O'Connell in a hallway in the Diocese removed, but as of now, there are no plans by the current bishop remove either of the images.


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