Pope Warns Bishops to Deal with Accused Priests

By Kevin Killeen
CBS St. Louis
June 10, 2015

Photo by James Cotier

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – U.S. Catholic Bishops meeting in St. Louis are accused by a survivors group of failing to live up to the promises made to protect children at the Dallas Conference of Bishops in 2002.

David Closhessy of the survivors group SNAP – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests – says more than a dozen “credibly accused” priests in the U.S. are still serving.

“Bishops have repeatedly said we will quickly suspend predator priests and keep them away from kids. And we’ve seen increasingly bishops are breaking that promise,” he says.

Archbishop John Wester, of Santa Fe, says in his experience, credibly accused priests are being suspended and investigated.

“Obviously the church, you know, we’re human beings, doing our best, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to make mistakes, but we want to know when we do make them and we want to correct them.”

The Pope has created a new Vatican tribunal to hear cases of bishops who fail to protect children from abusive priests.

Wester says the Pope’s tribunal will help.

“I think it’s going to provide a structure for dealing with abuse cases, which is very, very important,” he says. “I think it’s reflective of the church’s desire to do everything possible to be transparent.”

But Barbara Doris of SNAP says no bishop has ever been removed for shielding an accused priest.

“It would be reckless to just say, ‘OK, the problem’s solved.’ I think we have to judge this panel on what they do, not on what they say,” she says. “We’ve had the promises that bishops will be disciplined. We’ve had the promise that predators will be out, and yet, we’re not finding that to be true.”


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