Robert Hoatson, a former priest who founded Road to Recovery to help victims, is himself a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.
He was ordained by the now-notorious Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 1997 through the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., and was also a Christian Brother at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury in the 1980s. He served as assistant headmaster there and was a whistleblower in cases of clergy sexual abuse.
He said he was eventually suspended and removed from the priesthood for his work in Road to Recovery, which works with hundreds of victims in the Boston area and across the globe.
He spoke to the Herald’s Mary Markos about Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s insistence that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors he leads is focused on preventing, not investigating sexual abuse cases:
“What it means to me, not only as a former priest but as a victim of clergy sexual abuse, it means that the cover-up continues. That Cardinal O’Malley and his commission are being swamped with cases of abuse and they’re not going to deal with them at all, which is crazy. Why have a commission for the protection of children and youth if you’re not going to be there to help the victims who come forward looking for health and recovery and healing? This is very similar to what the pope said the other day in his homily when he was asked about the latest allegations that he knew about Cardinal McCarrick. He said, ‘We’re going to handle this through silence and prayer.’ Well, victims are not going to accept that and neither will the lay people. It’s time for action.
The statement by O’Malley is just crazy. Not investigating any priests who have sexually abused in the past, only to prevent it from happening in the future — that’s crazy. You can’t possibly prevent this from happening unless you investigate past cases. They’ve said this before, and they’re going to keep saying it, that the commission set up by Pope Francis will not investigate priest abuse. It’s only there to prevent future cases — that’s crazy.
You’re only going to prevent future cases by finding out what went wrong in the past and resolving it. You have to talk to the victims who have already gone through this to find out why this happened and who covered it up, who mishandled the cases, who was negligent and then holding all of those people accountable, No. 1.
No. 2 is making sure they provide resources to victims from the past and then by talking to those people and really digging into those cases to find out, ‘Well, this is how we’re going to prevent it in the future.’ This commission just can’t create preventive measures without really examining the past very carefully.”