PA- Victims challenge Scranton bishop
By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
March 25, 2014
Victims challenge Scranton bishop
They want him to disclose records
His predecessor says he warned others about predator
But support group is skeptical and wants “proof” of this
Accused priest is still on the job & has been promoted
Clergy sex abuse victims are challenging Scranton's Catholic bishop to release documents about a priest who allegedly molested Pennsylvania youngsters but has since been promoted and is now second in command at a South American diocese.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing to Bishop Joseph Bambera about Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity who was accused of sexually abusing at least four youngsters in the Scranton diocese. At least two civil suits were filed and one of them was settled for $454,550.
But last week, a Boston-based research group called BishopAccountability.org disclosed that Fr. Urrutigoity is now in the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and is its Vicar General.
“What could be more reckless and callous than quietly sending another credibly accused child molesting Catholic cleric overseas to live and work among unsuspecting families?” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's director. “We strongly suspect that Fr. Urrutigoity would be behind bars now had the Scranton colleagues acted appropriately. Scranton's bishop must take action now to protect kids in Paraguay.”
“Ignoring warnings about predator priests is dreadfully irresponsible but sadly, nothing new,” said, Barbara Dorris, SNAP's outreach director. “It is a dangerous and self-serving practice that puts unsuspecting families and children at great risk.”
SNAP wants Bambera to publicly release any correspondence between current or former Scranton Catholic officials and church officials elsewhere about Fr. Urrutigoity. The group also wants him to use parish websites, church bulletins and pulpit announcements to seek out others who “saw, suspected or suffered Fr. Urrutigoity's crimes” and urge them to call police.
And they want Bambera to write Pope Francis insisting that the priest be defrocked or at least suspended.
A spokesman for Bambera claimed last Friday that “in every instance (the previous Scranton bishop) clearly expressed his reservations concerning Father Urrutigoity” “and cautioned the (Paraguay) bishop to not allow Father Urrutigoity into his diocese.”
SNAP leaders, however, are skeptical of this claim and say that even if it's true, it didn't work so more must be done to safeguard children.
“It matters little what US Catholic officials say privately to other Catholic officials,” said Clohessy. “What really matters is when Catholic officials publicly admit that a predator priest is dangerous, defrock him, and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police and prosecutors. Bishops in every place where Fr. Urrutigoity worked should do this now, and demand that the Pope start defrocking him.”
“We hope that Bishop Bambera will step up, show compassion, exercise leadership, and do everything he possibly can to prod those with information or suspicions about Fr. Urrutigoity's crimes to call police, and warn Paraguay church staff and members about this threat to children's safety,” said Clohessy. “And they should go a step further and prod their boss, Pope Francis, who's also from Argentina, to start defrocking Fr. Urrutigoity right now and discipline those who are ignoring and concealing his crimes.”