Bishops should look at prevention
To the editor:
A sexually abusive cleric, Henry Christopher Foxhoven, has been kicked out of the priesthood, says Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville (“Convicted priest is defrocked,” June 28.)
“We must remain vigilant in assisting victims of sexual abuse,” the bishop said.
But pay attention to what Monforton did not say, however.
He didn’t say “We suspect others hurt by the Rev. Foxhoven are still suffering. Will you help us find and help them?”
He didn’t say “It’s your Catholic duty to call police if you know or suspect anything about Foxhoven’s crimes.”
He didn’t say “We’re using parish bulletins, church websites and pulpit announcements to beg others who were assaulted to come forward and start recovering.”
We in SNAP monitor these cases all across the country. And we find, time after time, bishops doing the absolute bare minimum.
They don’t use their resources to find more victims, because they don’t want to. They don’t beat the bushes seeking witnesses and whistleblowers, because they don’t want to. And they say nothing about children who are still at risk from predator priests because they want to pretend the crimes are over these days.
When bishops express sadness and pledge to do better, little changes. But when they make clear pleas to help vulnerable children now, harm can be stopped.
And when bishops start doing that — focusing on prevention and not on public relations — that’s when we may finally see the church becoming safer.
Midwest Regional Leader,
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.