Monday, 6 December 2010

A Priest's Open Letter on Abuse, Call for Full Disclosure

Last week, Fr. James Connell, vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, stood on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and called on his bishop to release documents related to the local sexual-abuse crisis: “I am absolutely convinced that we need the truth. Justice requires that the truth be known.” His appearance was a surprise to SNAP, which organized the press conference. According to Milwaukee News Buzz:
SNAP called the press conference Tuesday after learning that lawyers for the archdiocese and Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba have asked a judge to seal a sworn statement given by Sklba in a local court case regarding priest sex abuse cases.
There is some irony in Connell linking arms with Isely. About a year ago, Connell was the subject of another press conference in which Isely called on the priest to step down from the internal church board that hears sex abuse allegations. Isely pointed out that Connell had investigated allegations against Father Lawrence Murphy, a priest who abused scores of deaf children, according to church records.
Connell added that he had undergone a conversion of sorts after he began wondering what his life would have been like if he had been abused. Connell has since organized a group of other priests who hold monthly candlelight vigils for those who have been abused. He also began to challenge the hierarchy of the church as to whether officials were living up the Dallas Charter, the 2002 document adopted by the bishops to deal with sex abuse allegations.
Today, Connell released an open letter to priests [PDF] “regarding the need for the revelation of truth concerning the priest sexual abuse scandal.” It’s a remarkable document, one that deserves to be read by Catholics lay and ordained alike. Read it at Commonweal

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