|Bishop Must Make
Actions Match Words
Guest Editorial Column
Our husband, brother and son, Don Green, has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Davenport and Father James Janssen. As a family and active members of the Catholic Church, we support all the men who have filed lawsuits against their abusers and the Davenport Diocese. This support is also extended to those victims who suffer silently as a result of clergy sexual abuse. We are compelled to speak out specifically for several victims continuing to face obstacles in their journey for healing and justice.
On June 3, 2004, the court will be asked to hear arguments on the lawsuits filed by James Wells, John Doe III and John Doe I. The diocese is pushing to have the James Wells and John Doe III cases thrown out of court. In the late '80s and early '90s, these two victims informed the diocese of the abuse they had suffered as children at the hands of priests, one of which being Father Janssen.
In a press release dated Feb. 25, 2004, the diocese states “it was clearly a mistake for Father Janssen to have been reassigned to any public ministry after his 1956 suspension.” Had the diocese removed Janssen at that time, years of suffering and pain could have been avoided for many victims.
Because the diocese believes the statute of limitations has expired for these men, it is now attempting to avoid its moral obligation by hiding behind legal technicalities.
In addition, the diocese will be asking the court to dismiss some claims filed by John Doe I. The diocese insists the First Amendment of the Constitution, ensuring freedom of religion, legally protects it from any obligation to inform parishioners of a priest’s past sexual misconduct. We find it disturbing the leaders of our diocese would try to hind behind loopholes in the law.
Bishop Franklin states in the Feb. 25 press release, “the diocese of Davenport ... will ... strive to resolve pending litigation and claims fairly and honorably.” How is it fair to re-victimize these men by trying to have their cases thrown out of court? Where is the honor in denying these victims the justice they so deserve? Where is the honor in withholding valuable information from parents who are trying to protect their children?
We have yet to see the hierarchy of the Davenport Diocese suffer any consequences for the inappropriate acts that have been committed against the children of our community.
The diocese has used words such as compassion, healing and honor. We urge and pray that Bishop Franklin, as the head of the Davenport Diocese, will make his actions match his words by accepting responsibility for the poor decisions made by the past and present leaders of the Davenport Diocese. He has the opportunity to help these victims find healing, justice and peace.
“What would Jesus do?”
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