Statements Regarding Tucson Diocese Bankruptcy

By David Clohessy of St. Louis (314 566 9790)
SNAP National Director
Jim Parker
Tucson SNAP Director

When it comes to church finances, Tucson's Bishop offers vague remarks when Catholics deserve hard proof. He asks us, on little more than blind faith, to believe his claims of financial hardship. Prudent people will remain skeptical.

We should remember four things:

First, it's critical that we remember that dozens of bishops have threatened bankruptcy over the past 15 years, often on the eve of a trial when shocking secrets about church cover ups would have been disclosed. (Until recently, none has followed through on the threat.)

Second, it's also critical that we remember that essentially the same bishops who for years have claimed few priests molest and no cover ups occur are now asking us once again to believe them.

(It's easy enough to find out whether Kicanas and his colleagues are honest. They should open their books to independent third parties BEFORE even discussing the possibility of bankruptcy. Until this happens, we must view any threats and filings of bankruptcy as public relations maneuvers and defense posturing.)

Third, it's critical that we remember that literally thousands of innocent children's lives were shattered because people put blind faith in bishops, and took what bishops said purely at face value. Common sense and common decency demand that we not make the same gullible mistake again. We must insist on true openness.

Fourth, it's critical that we remember that "where there's a will, there's a way." Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston, while far from perfect, showed that if a cleric really wants to help victims heal and move on, he can.

Finally, regardless of what happens in court, church leaders have a moral responsibility those severely wounded by abusive priests and complicit bishops. Trying to repair even some of the horrific damage they caused can indeed seem overwhelming. Still, bishops have a Christian duty to do everything they possibly can to try and heal these hurting men and women.

David Clohessy
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143


Statement by Jim Parker
Tucson SNAP Director:

Bishops all across the country have managed to do what it takes to help victims heal. We believe this bishop could too, if he was committed to doing so.

It's ironic that the diocese now seeks protection in the American judicial system, the same judicial system bishops have repeatedly tried to argue has no standing when it comes to holding bishops accountable for sex crimes by their clergy, the same judicial system that has met with such resistence from church leaders when it has tried to investigate and take action against priests and bishops who have preyed upon innocent kids.

It's way too premature to even begin talking about whether the diocese has the resources to help victims heal and find justice. Because bishops have practiced such secrecy, and because their finances are essentially closed, no one knows how much the diocese has. It's silly to even discuss their assets at this point.

We hope that the judge considers what signal this filing sends other institutions and decision-makers: that no matter how much harm you cause to how many, when the dust settles, you can probably "bargain" your way to some lesser restitution (but only if your infractions are widespread and long-standing and hurtful enough). It feels as though the church hierarchy is getting special treatment BECAUSE they have so effectively and so consistently covered up sex crimes by their clergy.

We hope that anyone who experienced, witnessed or suspects abuse finds the courage to come forward now, especially to police, prosecutors, and support groups like ours. The Bible tells us "the truth shall set you free." The truth, not shrewd legal maneuvers, will set us free.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.