SNAPwisconsin.com

Green Bay diocese: US Constitution allows bishops to transfer and conceal pedophiles

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee)

CONTACT: 414.429.7259

In a stunning motion filed in an Appleton, Wisconsin court the Diocese of Green Bay has argued that bishops and religious officials who operate schools, churches, and youth centers can intentionally conceal and transfer clergy child molesters, even if found guilty of doing so by a jury.

The argument was made by lawyers for Green Bay Bishop David Ricken who are attempting to dismiss a May jury verdict which found the diocese guilty of fraud by intentionally concealing and transferring one of the state’s most prolific sex offender clerics, Fr. John Patrick Feeney.

Following the logic of the diocese argument, the US Constitution allows a bishop or religious official full civil immunity to secretly assign a cleric to a parish or school to work with children, even if that cleric has or is intending to commit child rape. When a bishop assigns a priest, according to the diocese, that does not mean the bishop believes the priest is safe to be around children. And any decision a bishop makes about a cleric may “not be evaluated or explained” by courts because the First Amendment allows religious organizations to essentially do what they want and be accountable to no one.

In other words: According to the bishops of the Catholic Church, American religious liberty is for bishops, not children. The US Constitution does not protect children to freely worship and practice their faith from religious officials who put the protection of sex offender clerics over their safety.

And parents should never consider the priest assigned to their parish as “safe”. Why? Because if a bishop assigns a priest who has molested children to your parish, according to the diocese of Green Bay, he has a First Amendment right to commit fraud and lie to you about it.

This is the official position of the bishop of Green Bay, who is echoing the position of the US bishops and the current President of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who ran the Green Bay diocese at one time.

Is there any greater demonstration of just how dangerous the church hierarchy is to civil society and the right of children to freely practice their Catholic faith?

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit us at SNAPnetwork.org and SNAPwisconsin.com.