Group Blasts Diocese for Handling of Priest Abuse Case

December 7, 2011

Bishop Kevin Rhoades

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - An organization that supports victims of clergy abuse has come out with a statement that is very critical of the Fort Wayne South Bend Diocese response to allegations of sexual abuse to a minor by one of its priests.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a statement Wednesday morning that questions why the Diocese did not disclose more information, specifically when and where the alleged abuse by Fr. Thomas Lombardi took place, when it announced that Lombardi had been relieved of his duties at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Wayne.

In a letter to parishioners of St. Joseph Church dated December 2, 2011, Bishop Kevin Rhoades wrote that there was an allegation of sexual abuse that took place years ago at another parish. The letter also encouraged anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse by anyone in church service to come forward and report the incident or incidents.

In addition to revealing when and where the alleged abuse took place, SNAP also believes Bishop Rhoades should visit every parish where Fr. Lombardi worked as a means to convince anyone else who may have been a victim to come forward.

The following is the entire statement issued by SNAP:

We are saddened that the Fort Wayne Ė South Bend Diocese did not disclose all the information they had regarding Fr. Thomas Lombardiís crimes when they announced his removal. In an effort to live up to their pledge to be open and honest about clergy sex cases, the Diocese should have revealed when and where the abuse took place.

We urge Bishop Rhoades to personally visit every parish where this predator worked and to beg other victims or witnesses to come forward and report what they saw. We also call on the Bishop to release the information regarding the specifics of the abuse that he is currently withholding from his parishioners. Silence is a predatorís best weapon, and by not coming forward with all the details, victims who may be suffering in silence may continue to feel alone and helpless.

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