Catholic News Agency
August 6, 2020
Washington – After an official with the Society of St. Pius X told priests and staff they should speak with criminal investigators only in the presence of an attorney provided by the group, the group’s leaders say their message was not intended to suggest anyone should cover up alleged sex abuse.
The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is a breakaway traditionalist group of priests and bishops with no official canonical status in the Church.
Rev. Scott Gardner, bursar of the U.S. district of the SSPX, told staff and priests at St. Mary’s SSPX chapel and school in Kansas last weekend that they did not have to cooperate with state investigators of alleged child sex abuse.
He added that employees and priest should speak to police only in the presence of a lawyer, who would be provided by the organization.
Some former members of the organization said the message, sent by email, seemed designed to silence witnesses or whistleblowers of abuse.
“It looks like they’re trying to hide things, trying to keep people from speaking and definitely stonewalling,” Kyle White, who has alleged that priests in the organization covered up reports of sexual abuse, told the Kansas City Star Aug. 4.
“They don’t want any more stuff like this getting out,” White added.
Gardner said when he emailed priests and staff, he was simply informing them that they did not have to speak to investigators without a lawyer present.
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