Survivors Group Makes Demands of Catholic Church
By Mick Trevey
WBAY [Green Bay WI]
December 2, 2004
A judge ordered a Catholic priest formerly from Green Bay to stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting a child (see related story).
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (S.N.A.P.) repeated its demands to Green Bay's bishop to release the names of known church sex offenders. It's a new push by SNAP to publicize the names and locations of current and former priests of the Green Bay Diocese accused of sexually assaulting minors.
SNAP says its request is simple: "Where are they and who are they?"
But the diocese is resisting, saying it has taken care of the problem and there are no priests currently serving in the diocese with credible allegations of child sexual assaults against them.
SNAP made its demand in an e-mail to Bishop David Zubik. "He needs to let this community know who these sex offenders are, that he knows are sex offenders, and he needs to tell this community what he is doing with them and where they are living," Peter Isely of SNAP said.
Bishop Zubik declined to go on-camera, but the diocese says it has taken steps to be sure all accused priests are no longer in ministry here.
In a past statement, the bishop said he wanted "to be mindful of a person's right to due process and the right to have a good reputation."
The survivors group says it will continue to fight if the diocese continues to withhold the information.
Statement from Bishop David Zubik
Bishop David A. Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay did not receive a letter from SNAP [Thursday].
However, the Diocese did receive from the media a copy of the letter SNAP circulated [Thursday]. Bishop's comments are as follows:
"Ensuring that all children and vulnerable adults are safe within the Catholic Church here in Northeastern Wisconsin is one of four key priorities to which I publicly committed myself and the Church of Green Bay when I arrived in the Diocese a year ago. I have taken this matter seriously as is evident in three critical areas:
"One, any member of the clergy who has a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against him has been permanently removed from ministry. It is the policy of the Diocese that allegations of sexual abuse received by the Diocese are turned over by the Diocese to civil authorities, who have the knowledge and skill to investigate, and the power to prosecute.
"It's equally important to protect the rights of those who are falsely accused or those who have died and are not able to come to their own defense. For that reason the Diocese maintains the position not to collectively release the names of clergy against whom an allegation of sexual abuse has been lodged. Once again, it is the civil officials who have the authority and power to investigate and prosecute. The Diocese has, does and will continue to turn over to civil authorities allegations and maintain full cooperation with civil authorities.
"In addition, we likewise encourage adult survivors of clergy abuse to join with the Diocese in reporting their allegations to civil authorities. The Diocese offers outreach and support to the victims/survivors and their families.
"Two, since 2002 the Diocese has conducted 7,830 criminal background checks on all members of the clergy, diocesan staff, employees and volunteers of all diocesan facilities most especially our parishes and schools.
"Three, since 2002 the Diocese has educated 9,817 diocesan, parish and school staff and volunteers through 203 sessions of the Virtus program on how to prevent abuse and what to do if they see inappropriate behavior. In addition, all church personnel who have completed the training and have direct contact with children are required to continue bi-weekly training.
"Moreover, we have notified worshipping communities and the media when a priest has been removed. In addition, our diocesan newspaper and parish bulletins regularly publish information on how to report abuse, and our diocesan web site always has available information on how to report abuse. I would encourage the local media to include this information on their web sites.
"Lastly, as I said in April, I fully support the new state law that includes clergy of all denominations as mandatory reporters. I support the new state law that extends the length of time in which either a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution can be filed after a child sexual abuse crime is committed. Under civil law, a person now has 15 additional years -- until age 35 -- to bring action against his or her abuser. Under criminal law, the statute of limitations has been extended up to 19 years - until age 45. These changes in state law and our support of them reconfirm how serious is the issue of child protection and how serious the Church of Green Bay is about child protection.
"I am confident that we are being transparent with the people of Northeastern Wisconsin and that we are actively, diligently and vigilantly determined to maintain safe environments for all."
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