Group Wants Church to Name Accused Clergy

Sioux City Journal [Omaha NE]
February 16, 2007

Frustrated by the Catholic Church's handling of its own nationwide sexual abuse scandal, a victim's advocate group on Thursday called on Nebraska church officials to publicly name accused clergy members and admonish a Lincoln bishop whom they say has snubbed reform efforts.

David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also urged sexual assault victims to contact the group and law enforcement -- but avoid coming forward to the Church.

"We believe that bishops recruit, educate, ordain, employ and eventually cover up for and transfer abusive priests, and they can't therefore simply suspend the priest and say, 'OK, we're done," Clohessy said. "They have an affirmative, civic and moral duty, we believe, to warn families about and protect kids from these priests."

Group members spoke with reporters in front of the chancery office of the Omaha Archdiocese. Clohessy said SNAP did not contact Nebraska's church officials to arrange a visit, but said he has been trying to reach church officials -- including Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz -- for years without reply.

Messages left by the Associated Press for Bruskewitz, were not immediately returned.

"We're going to have absolutely no response to anything that was said in that statement," said Father Ryan Lewis, vice chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese.

In December, the Vatican upheld Bruskewitz's 1996 mass excommunication of perhaps hundreds of parishioners who were affiliated with 11 groups the diocese considered anti-Catholic, including the group Call To Action.

Call To Action has long been critical of how the church handled allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests and questions the church's tradition of a male-only, unmarried priesthood.

The Lincoln diocese was also the only one in the nation that refused to participate in a sex-abuse survey. Bruskewitz said at the time that the survey was flawed.

Clohessy and other SNAP officials called Bruskewitz the most resistant bishop in the country when it comes to sex abuse reform.

Clergy members accused of sexual abuse are named by courts when they are formally charged with criminal wrongdoing. But victims' advocates have called for church officials to also identify priests who have been suspended or otherwise reprimanded by dioceses for sexual abuse.

Clohessy said dioceses in 15 states have identified accused clergy members on their Web sites and in church newsletters in response to public pressure.

"I cannot tell you how healing it is for a victim when he or she finds out that the priest who raped him or sodomized her, that priest is finally exposed as a predator," Clohessy said. "It's a very healing very liberating, very reassuring to know that the man who molested me ... is at least known now publicly as a sex offender."

Clohessy, 50, said he was molested as a teen by a Catholic priest.


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