|Advocates for Victims of Clergy Abuse Call on Springfield Diocese to Take More Steps to Avoid Future Cases
By Peter Goonan
December 8, 2008
SPRINGFIELD - A local organization that advocates for victims of clergy abuse has urged the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield to take additional steps aimed at prevention and healing.
Peter C. Pollard, coordinator for the Western Massachusetts chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, submitted a letter on Monday to Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell at the diocesan office on Elliot Street, outlining a "roadmap to healing and prevention."
The 18 recommendations include a proposal that the bishop release the names of all clergy or church personnel responsible for sexual abuse, and that the diocese prominently post the names of all known perpetrators, including deceased perpetrators, on its Web site for nine years.
In addition, the network urged the bishop to personally visit, within the next year, each parish where abuse has occurred, to publicly identify the perpetrators who served there, and encourage all abuse victims to report abuse to local law enforcement, the Diocesan Office of Counseling and others.
The letter follows a $4.5 million settlement by the diocese, reached Nov. 20, with 59 men and women who filed claims of clergy abuse.
The network, within its letter, also proposes that the bishop publicly support the elimination of all criminal statutes of limitation for child abuse by clergy, and make a commitment to continue to provide an outreach program for abuse survivors.
"What's necessary for real healing to occur is Bishop McDonnell's transparent and aggressive devotion to the task of making prevention and accountability a top priority for the diocese," Pollard said.
Mark E. Dupont, a spokesman for the diocese, said some of the recommendations are already being implemented, and "some go beyond the authority of the bishop, any bishop." The diocese, for example, does provide names of clergy responsible for child abuse within press releases posted on its Web site, he said.
The diocese believes it does as much as it is legally allowed to do regarding clergy abuse, but cannot take action that would violate the rights of accused priests, he said.
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