Support Group Call for Priest's Resignation

Eyewitness News 4 [Davenport IA]
Downloaded May 21, 2004

Roughly 25 civil lawsuits are pending against the Davenport diocese, alleging sexual abuse of boys by local priests.

On Thursday, the Survivors Network of those Abuses by Priests - or SNAP - called for the Bishop of the diocese to remove Father Michael Morrissey. For 20 years, Morrissey was the Davenport Diocesan Vicar General Monsignor and they say he turned a blind eye to fellow priest James Jannsen's alleged abuse of children.

"From our perspective, he should have already done that," says SNAP president Barbara Blaine. "He should have removed everyone in positionso f authority in this diocese who have engaged in the concealment and cover-up of sexual crimes against children."

Father Morrissey now works at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Davenport but SNAP says he should step down.

Blaine says the move would send a message to other priests. "Make it clear that they will not receive anymore compensation or be cared for," said Blaine, "that they're not going to receive retirement benefits."

And, she says, making it easier for abuse victims to come forward.

"We no longer need to be shackled by the silence and secrecy and shame that we have carried for decades," adds Blaine.

Channel 4 Eyewitness News tried to reach the Davenport Diocese for comment and were referred to their lawyers. The lawyers did not return our phone calls. Father Morrissey was also unavailable for comment.