by Terence McKiernan, President of BishopAccountability.org
on the Election of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan to Lead the USCCB
and Bishop R. Daniel Conlon to Chair the Committee on Child and Youth Protection
The U.S. bishops correctly passed over Bishop Gerald Kicanas. His role in the convicted pedophile Rev. Daniel McCormack’s training and ordination, and his misleading statements about his own actions, made Kicanas a poor choice for president of the USCCB. It is good that the bishops have broken with precedent and treated the selection of the USCCB president as an election, not a coronation.
However, Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s mishandling of the Msgr. Wallace Harris case, and his continuation of Cardinal Edward Egan’s policies, raise serious questions. The USCCB has coordinated the bishops’ approach to sexual abuse since the early 1980s, and it acted aggressively in 2002. The safety of children in U.S. dioceses is its single most important responsibility. Yet in his mishandling of the Harris case, Dolan has chosen secrecy over transparency, and the comfort of an accused monsignor over the safety of children and the healing of victims. He has also given the worst possible example to the bishops he will now lead. New York under Dolan is an archdiocese where hundreds of credibly accused priests remain concealed by the Egan policies that Dolan has continued. In many other dioceses, bishops have posted the names of accused priests on the diocesan website. Dolan has not.
Before he assumes his duties as president of the USCCB, Dolan must go to St. Charles Borromeo church in Harlem, make a full disclosure of the accusations against Msgr. Wallace Harris, release Harris’s personnel file, and reach out to Harris survivors. He must announce the posting of a complete list of accused New York priests, alive and deceased, diocesan and religious, with photographs and assignment records, and he must promise to keep the list up to date. By supporting statute of limitations reform in New York State and putting the Catholic Conference to work on the correct side of that issue for a change, he would set an example sadly lacking during the Skylstad and George years at the USCCB.
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon is an extremely disappointing choice to chair the Committee on Child and Youth Protection. As chancellor of the Cincinnati archdiocese, he was responsible for quietly managing the secret files of all accused priests there. The committee does not need another abuse apparatchik at the helm. Nor does it need a man who as Bishop of Steubenville has been unresponsive to survivors and not transparent about the identities and crimes of abusive priests in the diocese.
The U.S. bishops must elect USCCB officials for whom sexual abuse survivors are the top priority, not an afterthought.
See the Dolan/Harris letters:
See the lists of accused priests posted by some bishops:
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