Tyler Bishop Urges Congregation to Speak out against Sex Abuse

By Melissa Crowe
Tyler Morning Telegraph
March 31, 2010

A Catholic Tyler bishop is urging his congregation to speak out against sexual abuse crimes.

Last week, Bishop Rev. Alvaro Corrada, of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler, issued a statement on his Web site concerning Cincinnati-based priest Father Robert Poandl's indictment on sexual abuse charges.

About a week ago, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) asked bishops, who are not Vatican employees, to use their diocesan Web sites, newspapers, employees, parish Web sites and parish bulletins to urge sexual abuse victims and witnesses to speak out against the crime.

"Basically, it's very much in the bishop's self interest to do this because (sexual abuse) is a cancer in the body of the church," said David Clohessy, the group's national director. "Victims and Catholics will recover best only when the cancer is fully weeded out."

Though Clohessy called it a simple and inexpensive way for bishops to reach out to possible victims, Promoter of Justice for the Catholic Diocese of Tyler, Father Gavin Vaverek, said Bishop Corrada's proactive approach was regrettably uncommon.

The bishop "recognizes that victims of abuse have been hurt and sadly people of the church have not responded proactively and directly," Vaverek said.

Bishop Corrada contacted the sexual abuse network on March 17, promising to post announcements in four Sunday parish bulletins and in the diocesan newspaper for two months about Father Poandl's molestation charge involving a West Virginia boy in 1991.

At the top of the bishop's Web site is a public notice in English and Spanish concerning the priest's indictment.

"As bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, I wish to remind the people of East Texas of the importance of reporting to legal authorities all incidents of abuse," the bishop's announcement begins. "The Diocese of Tyler is committed to cooperation with legal authorities in judicial actions."

The bishop's actions serve as an example to other church officials of how to respond to allegations of clergy misconduct under their authority or within their territory, said Dan Frondorf, SNAP leader of Cincinnati, in the group's press release.

While most people would be "more comfortable" ignoring the issue of sexual abuse within the church or even society, Bishop Corrada's proactive approach commits to transparency and accountability, Vaverek said.

According to the SNAP press release, 10 other bishops asked to "reach out" to others have not cooperated.

"It's always easiest to do nothing, especially on an embarrassing issue like clergy sex crimes," Clohessy said. "I'm hoping those bishops will cooperate. It's the responsible, prudent and caring step."


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