Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pope must act on bishop who covered up admitted crimes, SNAP says

Pope must act on bishop who covered up admitted crimes, SNAP says

Statement by Barbara Dorris Outreach Director 314 862 7688

The ball is now squarely in the court of 10 people.

Belgian Catholic officials now confirm that, just four months ago, Belgian Cardinal G Danneels a man once considered to be a likely candidate for Pope, tried to cover up admitted clergy child sex abuse, by urging a victim to stay silent. What’s worse is that Danneels did this even though the acknowledged predator was still in active ministry around kids and able to molest others.

Nine Belgian bishops, especially Danneels' successor Archbishop André-Mutien Léonard, should now publicly urge the Pope to discipline Danneels. If they don't, they are essentially endorsing Danneels' irresponsible, callous and hurtful actions. Staying silent about child sex cover ups is just as harmful as engaging in child sex cover ups.

The victim was smart for tape recording the meeting. We strongly urge victims to never meet alone with church officials. (Church officials almost never meet alone with victims.) In several instances, after a victim or advocate has met alone with church officials, those church officials claim money was extorted or threats were made. It's inherently dangerous and unwise for victims to meet alone with any church officials about abuse.

The notion that Danneels was somehow "naive" or "unprepared" for the meeting is absurd. We strongly suspect that Danneels has had dozens of such meetings over his 32 years as a bishop. For almost 29 years, Danneels headed the Belgian Bishops Conference. In that role, we strongly suspect he helped set the tone and direction of how church officials all across the country deal with child sex abuse reporters.

Two months ago, Pope Benedict pledged to “do everything possible” to prevent future child sex crimes by clergy. Here’s his opportunity to take effective action to deter future crimes and cover ups. He can do what top church officials have done for decades, and do nothing about the admitted misdeeds of a bishop. Or he can chart a new course, and use his power to discipline this bishop. If he does nothing, he sends a strong signal that concealing known child sex crimes is still OK in the church. It’s as simple as that.

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