National Group Asked to Force Bishop to Meet with Local Groups

By George Pawlaczyk
December 22, 2008

BELLEVILLE — Members of two metro-east groups critical of the handling of child sex abuse cases involving priests on Monday called upon a national organization to force Bishop Edward Braxton to meet with them regarding child safety.

David Clohessy, director of the St. Louis chapter of the Survivor's Network of Those Abused By Priests (S.N.A.P.), said a letter was sent to the National Review Board in Washington, D.C., set up by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking that Braxton be required:

• To post the addresses of 15 priests removed from active ministry mostly during the 1990s by a diocesan review board after allegations they sexually molested minors.

• To require that priests deemed pedophiles by placed in treatment centers.

• To meet with SNAP and the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity (FOSIL) and other groups for purposes of discussing ongoing priest sex abuse problems.

Clohessy said if the diocese won't print the addresses of priests removed for sexual abuse of minors, the groups will publish them as a service to parents.

Braxton did not respond to a News-Democrat written request for comment. He has stated he will not talk with local reporters.

Michael Merz, director of the National Review Board, said his organization does not respond directly to local issues.

"We've never been involved in local matters," he said.

Clohessy and Anne Harter of FOSIL, have been critical of Braxton's decision to appeal of $5 million judgment by a jury in August in connection to a lawsuit brought in 2002 that the Rev. Raymond Kownacki sexually abused an altar boy at St. Theresa's Parish in Salem. During the eight day trial, testimony and documents that went unrefuted showed that high-ranking church officials including a bishop kept reassigning Kownacki even though they knew he was a child rapist. Kownacki has stated he will not comment.

Contact George Pawlaczyk at and 239-2625.


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