FL–Victims blast new Tampa/St. Pete Catholic bishop

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Monday, Nov. 28, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, davidgclohessy@gmail.com)

We are disappointed that Bishop Gregory Parkes of Pensacola-Tallahassee has been promoted to head Florida’s second-largest market as the fifth bishop of St Petersburg. We disapprove of his handling of a 2013 predator priest case and see no signs that might indicate that he be any better than his predecessor in dealing with the church’s continuing child sex abuse and cover up crisis.

In 2013, Parkes waited five weeks before suspending an accused priest, Fr. Michael A. Cherup.

[BishopAccountability.org – letter]


Then, adding insult to injury, Parkes let Fr. Cherup deny the allegations in the parish bulletin, which only serves to deter other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from speaking up, thus endangering more kids. It’s also a callous move that rubs even more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of victims.

Before leaving Tallahassee, Parkes should tell his flock where Fr. Cherup is now. If he’s unsupervised, Parkes should insist that he stay in a remote, secure, independently-run treatment center, so that kids can be safer and that he can get therapy.

(Cherup had worked at Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola and St. Mary Parish in Fort Walton Beach.)

We hope Parkes will put a higher priority on the safety of kids and the healing of victims in his new post. Specifically, we urge him to permanently post on his diocesan website the names, photos and whereabouts of every child molesting St. Petersburg-Tampa cleric, whether alive or dead, diocesan or religious order, or admitted, proven or credibly accused. (About 30 US bishops have done this. It’s the bare minimum a bishop should do to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.)

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