|SNAP Raps NYC Archbishop on Remarks Re Cardinal Egan and Clergy Sex Abuse
Voice from the Desert
December 4, 2009
For immediate release Thursday, Dec. 3
For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790
Clergy sex victims rap new NYC archbishop
He “fails first clergy abuse test in new post,” SNAP maintains
Dolan’s backing of Egan is “extraordinary & callous,” group says
In formal statement, he claims Egan “properly dealt with all allegations”
SNAP: “Blind loyalty to clerical colleagues is a key reason for the crisis”
Group challenges Dolan to “read every page of your own pedophile priest files”
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims says it’s “stunned” that New York’s new Catholic archbishop refuses to admit that his predecessor made even a single error with clergy sex cases over 20 years in two dioceses.
On Tuesday, Catholic officials were forced by court order to release 12,000 pages of long-secret church records about clergy abuse cases in Bridgeport Diocese, which was headed by then-Bishop Edward Egan. Egan later went on to head the New York Archdiocese.
Within minutes of the release, New York’s current archbishop, Timothy Dolan, released a statement claiming that “During his tenure as Bishop of Bridgeport (and later as Archbishop of New York), Bishop Egan aggressively investigated and properly dealt with all allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests.”
“That claim is dead wrong and shockingly callous and hurtful,” said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president and founder of a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Almost all observers depict the Bridgeport records as proof of either intentional misdeeds or severe mismanagement by Egan. The Hartford Courant, for example, wrote on its front page yesterday that the files showed “show that Egan either ignored complaints against abusive priests, or simply did not believe them.”
The Connecticut Post wrote that “Egan was defensive, evasive and. . .appeared complicit in a policy of disinformation concerning the practice of abruptly reassigning priests accused of sexual abuse. The explanation for a priest’s new assignment, if a public one was offered at all, often involved a feigned medical problem.”
SNAP says Dolan’s “extreme” claim is contradicted by the facts.
“Dolan’s clearly smart, so it’s somewhat stunning, and very disillusioning, to see his complete unwillingness to admit even one ‘mistake’ or instance of wrongdoing by his clerical colleague, in the face of thousands of pages proving Egan’s callousness, deceit and recklessness,” said Blaine. “Even worse, Dolan’s bizarre endorsement of blatant misdeeds rubs even more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of suffering victims and betrayed Catholics.
Having publicly proclaimed that “every victim, every predator, every witness, every inquiry about abuse was apparently handled with perfection for nine years, we urge Dolan to personally read his own pedophile priest files in the New York Archdiocese and make sure he can back up this claim,” Blaine said.
“In Milwaukee, Dolan went to great pains to portray himself as a reasonable guy,” said Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP’s Midwest Director. “But now he’s being anything but reasonable. It defies common sense for anyone to claim that any official, much less a Catholic bishop, handled every single sex abuse case for two decades ‘properly.’”
“Dolan could have said nothing,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP’s outreach director. “He could have admitted that Egan, like other mortals, had made ‘mistakes.’ He could have begged victims and witnesses and whistleblowers to speak up. He could have urged parents to watch their kids more closely. He could have prodded kids to speak up immediately if they’re being hurt he could have prompted legislators to fix predator-friendly laws. He could have promised to read through his own archdiocese’s pedophile priests’ records. He could have pledged to work harder to find and help other victims. But Dolan did none of this. He simply defended the indefensible.”
SNAP leaders contend that this disclosure of records constitutes Dolan’s first “real test” of how he’ll handle clergy sex crimes and cover ups in his new position as head of the nation’s largest archdiocese.
“He’s failed,” said Blaine.
Just yesterday, one victim of a pedophile priest disclosed that he wrote Egan about his perpetrator in 2004 but never received a reply. That man, Rich Cerick of New Canaan CT (646 363 9847), says he was molested by a prominent New York area cleric who was only publicly exposed last year after Cerick spoke up publicly about his suffering.
A copy of Dolan’s statement is below:
On May 22, 2009, the Supreme Court of Connecticut ordered that documentation concerning the sexual abuse of minors by clergy of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, during the tenure of The Most Reverend Walter W. Curtis (1961-1988) be made public. The decision involves documents regarding five priests accused of sexual misconduct prior to the December 1988 appointment of The Most Reverend Edward M. Egan as Bishop of Bridgeport. It is a topic that has been repeatedly and thoroughly addressed by Cardinal Egan and the Archdiocese of New York as far back as 2002 in response to a series of articles published by the Hartford Courant.
During his tenure as Bishop of Bridgeport (and later as Archbishop of New York), Bishop Egan aggressively investigated and properly dealt with all allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests. There were no such allegations regarding the five priests mentioned above during Bishop Egan’s Bridgeport years, apart from an accusation that one of them had made an improper gesture in the presence of a minor. The priests is not said to have had any physical contact with the minor, and two nuns who were present at the time have stated that they were unaware of anything inappropriate.
Of the five priests, one died prior to Bishop Egan’s appointment. The remaining four were all sent for expert evaluation and professional treatment to the most highly regarded psychiatric institution in the New England and Greater New York area, which had no affiliation with the Church. They were ultimately returned to ministry only upon the specific recommendation of the aforementioned institution, along with the advice of experienced clergy and laity. This was the recognized evaluation–and–treatment protocol for sexual misconduct cases at the time. It was widely embraced and implemented by the psychiatric community and commended in an editorial of The New York Times.
After their return to ministry, new information was received about misconduct prior to Bishop Egan’s appointment to the Diocese of Bridgeport on the part of the remaining four priests mentioned above. In response, two had their authority to exercise ministry removed indefinitely. The third, who had suffered a brain injury, was permanently retired from ministry. And the fourth, whose misconduct was never firmly established during Bishop Egan’s years in Bridgeport, was permitted to continue in a restricted ministry as an assistant chaplain in a home for the aged, while residing in a convent of religious women.
Three additional priests, who are not mentioned in the case before the Connecticut Supreme Court, were accused during Bishop Egan’s tenure in Bridgeport of engaging in sexual misconduct with minors prior to Bishop Egan’s assignment to the Diocese. In response, Bishop Egan secured a declaration from the Vatican removing one from the priesthood, while the cases of the remaining two were handled according to the evaluation–and–treatment protocol outlined above. One of the two was evaluated and treated in another highly regarded psychiatric institution located near where he was residing. It too had no affiliation with the Church.
During Cardinal Egan’s tenure as Archbishop of New York, the Archdiocese had a policy in place, which included an independent review board of professionals and experts, for dealing with credible allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by priests of the Archdiocese. There was only one such allegation, and it was disproved in an ecclesiastical trial.
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