PA--Victims blast Catholic official over abuse remarks

By David Clohessy
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
April 26, 2016

Ill-considered comments by a Pittsburgh professor who once headed a national Catholic abuse panel help show why the church’s child sex crimes and cover up scandal continues.

Nicholas Cafardi is at the Duquesne University law school. For years, he was on – and once headed – the National Review Board, a “toothless tiger” of a committee hand-picked by bishops to purportedly oversee whether Catholic officials kept their promises about safeguarding kids.

Because of his experience, Cafardi should know better than to make comments like “I think 95 percent of the dioceses are following (the rule on removing predator priests).”

Cafardi has no way to know this. And by making this claim, he encourages complacency. Complacency endangers kids. Only vigilance protects kids.

And if 95% of US bishops are removing predator priests, how does Cafardi explain Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul? He admitted molesting a young teen, was accused of molesting another, was sued by both (and both settled for six figure sums). But just weeks ago, Vatican officials lifted his suspension and he’s set to be put back on the job next month.

How does Cafardi explain Fr. Jose Alexis Davila? He pled guilty to sexually assaulting a 19 year old in California but has quietly moved and promoted, with no warning to his flock, soon overseeing a school and three parishes in Oklahoma.

How does Cafardi explain these other ten cases of proven, admitted or credibly accused predator priests still on the job in the US?

How does Cafardi explain these proven, admitted or credibly accused predator priests who’ve been sent overseas to keep ministering to unsuspecting families?

And if bishops are doing what they should, how does Cafardi explain the silence of church officials in the dioceses where these predators worked are silent? How does Cafardi explain the inaction of Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, Oklahoma Archbishop Paul Coakley and others should be demoted, disciplined or at least denounced by Catholic officials in Rome and on the church’s abuse panel (the National Review Board). Three prelates in particular should take action: Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley (the pope’s top advisor on abuse), Louisville Kentucky Archbishop Joseph Kurtz (head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) and Juneau Alaska Bishop Edward Burns (head of the USCCB’s abuse committee). But none of them are.

So again, if church officials are acting responsibly, why aren’t any of them, including Cafardi, doing anything to warn anyone about these dangerous and potentially dangerous clerics.

Closer to home, if bishops are doing what they should, how does Cafardi explain the recent findings of a grand jury that spent months looking at the Altoona diocese. It concluded that a church abuse panel was set up “to convince people that the days of a mysterious bishop deciding how to handle a scandalous and heinous report of child molestation were over.” But "in reality, the bishop still exclusively makes the decision how or what to do with a report of child molestation," the grand jury said.  

The jurors concluded that "Nothing has changed. . .”

Cafardi made another troubling remark. 

A federal prosecutor in Pittsburgh is considering filing RICO charges against Pennsylvania Catholic officials (because of the recent Fr. Joseph D. Maurizio case and the grand jury report into the Altoona Catholic diocese.”

“My church is not a criminal enterprise,” Cafardi said.

The professor should be an example to his students. He should keep an open mind. He should wait and see what evidence shows. He should not try to prejudice a pending criminal investigation with his public comments.

This knee-jerk, defensive and intemperate reaction is one of the many reasons innocent kids and vulnerable adults are still at risk in the church.

We hope Cafardi will be more measured and reasonable in his comments in the future and more open-minded when looking at evidence of recent clergy sex crimes and cover ups, instead of making rash comments based on his personal feelings, comments that foster complacency instead of vigilance.

No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred



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