Cardinal Dolan slammed for 'secrecy' in priest porn case
By Maura Grunlund
Staten Island Advance
April 5, 2016
|Father Keith Fennessy, seen here in this 2008 photo during mass at St. Margaret Mary's Church, Midland Beach, has been barred from the priesthood over porn allegations, according to a report.|
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests accused Cardinal Timothy Dolan of "secrecy" in the way the archbishop of New York has handled the case of a former pastor from Staten Island who was allegedly found in possession of "child pornography."
The Rev. Keith Fennessy, prior head of St. Margaret Mary R.C. Church in Midland Beach, "was discovered with pornographic material on his computer that violated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," according to an article in Catholic New York.
Cardinal Dolan accepted an archdiocesan review board recommendation in March that Father Fennessy not be allowed to serve as a priest, according to Catholic New York.
The cardinal knew about the accusations against Father Fennessy for "months or years" before informing the public, according to David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Clohessy stressed that "Cardinal Timothy Dolan is among the most secretive US Catholic officials when it comes to the safety of children."
The SNAP spokesman criticized the manner in which the information was released by the archiocese, stating that "the website of Dolan's archdiocesan newspaper quietly posted a short notice that Fr. Keith Fennessy has been suspended because of child pornography."
SNAP slammed Dolan for not alerting the public when Father Fennessy first was accused and when the allegations were deemed credible by the archdiocese. The cardinal also was faulted by SNAP for not publicizing the outcome of any possible criminal investigation. The archdiocese should have urged victims and witnesses to call police, according to SNAP.
The cardinal should reveal where Father Fennessy currently lives, according to SNAP.
"This is a clear violation of Dolan's repeated pledges to be 'open and transparent' about clergy sex crimes," Clohessy said. "It's also a violation, we believe, of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops abuse policy – the so-called Charter for the Protection of Children – which mandates such 'openness and transparency.'"
Closhessy said that many bishops now inform the media when a priest is accused of a child-sex crime.
"As best we can tell, Dolan refused to do this, instead opting – as he has time and time again – for secrecy," Closhessy said.
The Archdiocese of New York stressed in a statement to the Advance that no one has "come forward to allege that Fr. Fennessy abused them." The case was turned over to the district attorneys on Staten Island and Manhattan and the priest has been removed from ministry and lives in a "supervised setting," according to the statement.
However, the archdiocese has not yet decided whether it will ask the Vatican to return Father Fennessy to the lay community, according to Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese.
Father Fennessy was serving as pastor of St. Columba's parish in Manhattan from 2011 until June 15, 2015, when he was relieved of his priestly duties after the pornographic material was discovered, according to Catholic New York.