Grief, shame, raging anger

Bishop releases list with names of the accused

Bishop Vasa answers questions. (Photo courtesy of Kent Porter, Press Democrat)

The following comes from a Jan. 14 story by The Press Democrat.

Addressing history of sexual abuse in local Catholic Church, Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa told reporters Monday that it was a source of “tremendous sadness and grief and shame and, honestly, a raging anger that these men did what they did.”

Critics have believed church leaders allowed abusive priests to take refuge in the large, semi-rural Diocese of Santa Rosa, which runs from Petaluma to the Oregon border. But on Monday Vasa said diocesan authorities, like those anywhere else, were merely willing to “give a priest another chance.”

In news conference he suggested, however, that he might have acted more promptly than his predecessors when learning of abuse accusations.

“Now, given the tenor of our times, I’m strongly inclined to do that,” he continued. “Even when I’m fairly certain that nothing untoward had occurred, I will report it to the police because that’s the route I need to take.”

Vasa met with members of the Bay Area press corps following his release of a carefully curated list of who had been credibly accused of child sex abuse.

He explained: “The release of names is made primarily for the sake of the victims — those who have come forward and those who have not yet found their voice,” he said. “I pray that those who continue to dwell in the shadows and who perhaps feel that no one will believe them will see in this moment the desire of the church to reach out to them to say to them, ‘We hear you, we believe you, and we want to help you.’ ”

The list includes four priests responsible on their own for abusing 63 of 100 known diocesan victims, he said, and 14 men whose alleged offenses occurred outside the diocese. Twenty-five of those on the list are deceased and none are in current pastoral service to the diocese.

Only four have been prosecuted criminally, with varying success. “Part of that is, sadly, the church’s fault,” Vasa said, and part of that is the function of the typical years-long delay between childhood sexual abuse and reporting, combined with the statute of limitations on criminal prosecution.

Comments

  1. Simon of Simony says:

    All the more reason for victims, whether minors, vulnerable adults or adults who are intimidated by clerical authority, to bypass complaining to Church authorities and report their experiences directly to civil authorities. The Church’s process can not be trusted.

  2. Are Bishops ‘mandatory reporters’ under secular regulation and law?
    Not being an attorney, I wonder if current Bishops are at criminal risk if they give a credibly accused priest a ‘pass’. I wonder if the Bishops should, under appropriate circumstances, be subject to criminal prosecution like the priest predators.

    • The legal concepts of “vicarious liability”, aiding and abetting a criminal action, obstruction and conspiracy all come into play.

      Just as in business, the diocese is an organization with various levels of authority. As a result, superiors are responsible to make sure that the diocese offets a safe environment.

  3. St. Christopher says:

    These kinds of things will continue, bishop, until the Church addresses its cause, homosexuality. You are a good man, but please step up and call this evil by its name. And then get homosexual priests out of seminaries and the priesthood.

    • STEPHANIE Clare HART says:

      Thank you. In San Diego McElroy is going around to parishes and denying that homosexuality is the problem. He keeps saying: “It’s a power thing.” I’ve had it.

  4. May I direct you to these extracts from an article (http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/41227) by well-known adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine Thomas Plante, PhD. I suggest opening the link and reading the full article.

    “There are significant problems with the idea that homosexual clergy are to blame for the sexual abuse crisis if you are familiar with the psychological functioning and behavior of sex offenders and if you know something about sexual orientation and sexual behavior in general.

    “First, no research suggests that homosexuals are at higher risk of being sex offenders, committing sexual crimes, or having impulse control disorders that result in…

    • Steve Seitz says:

      Jimmy,
      Homosexual clergy are to blame, but you incorrectly assume that this means that homosexuals in general must be sexual predators.

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        Steve, Are homosexual clergy to blame for heterosexual clergy who abused minors, heterosexual clergy who had extramarital affairs, and heterosexual clergy who covered up for all of them?

        • YFC and the standard liberal “what aboutism”…homosexuals have ZERO place in the clergy. Extra marital affairs however sinful are not against the natural law. Gay “liberation” has now lead to 10 years boys in dresses dancing in gay clubs.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            OK, uh what clubs? Have you ever even been near a gay club? If so, why? Trust me, 10 year olds aren’t allowed into any clubs in any city in the US. Even if they wanted to, they won’t because they’d lose their liquor license.

            You never answered questions proposed. You just snarled at them. Until you can come to terms with a hierarchy that allowed the kinds of child sex abuse that we have seen, you can’t hide behind “natural law”.

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            OK, so instead of a priest in every parish, you’d like to close a few dozen more in your diocese because you hate celibate gay priests so much?

    • Jimmy Mac says:

      “First, no research suggests that homosexuals are at higher risk of being sex offenders, committing sexual crimes, or having impulse control disorders that result in sexual crimes than heterosexuals. 80% of clergy sexual offenders violated a post pubescent teen and are not pedophiles at all (but are described as ephebophiles). Many report that teens are not the object of their desire but what was available to them at the time.
      “Tragically, those with a homosexual orientation have a long-standing history of being scapegoated and victimized in our culture and in many others cultures for centuries. Sadly, this group is being again victimized in the clergy abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. We need less and not more victims in this story…

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