There are child molesters among us. That's not surprising, but how we learn about them can be. In April the clergy newsletter for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati included an advisory about two priests suspended over accusations of sexually abusing children. One of the priests was living and working in Cincinnati at the time, according to the newsletter, which is published for priests.
The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) recently found out about the notifications. At a May 21 press conference, members said they'd like to see the advisories widely distributed so that individuals, particularly parents, can be aware.
"What we want to know is why did they notify their priests but they failed to notify any of the parishioners, any of the parents of children that are out there," said Dan Frondorf, a member of the Cincinnati/Dayton Chapter of SNAP.
"Father (Kenneth) Roberts has been living in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for some time," the newsletter said.
Why then did the archdiocese sit on the information, which included allegations he was "associating with teenagers and children," the newsletter said.
"He's said to be saying home masses and in front of children and teenagers," Frondorf said.
"He's obviously a danger ... so why hasn't anybody been notified except church priests?"
Roberts is originally from the Diocese of Dallas, Texas. The other priest is the Rev. Richard Castillo, from the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla. Both men have been suspended, meaning they cannot act in a "ministerial capacity," according to Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
"We don't know whether (Roberts) is living here or not," Andriacco said. "I talked to somebody this morning who knows him, who believes he's not lived here for some months."
Suspended priests aren't closely watched by the church, Andriacco said.
"We do not have the facilities to allow a great deal of supervision," he said.
That fact is the repetition of a familiar pattern.
"The thing that we are the most concerned about is that what is happening in May of 2007 is exactly what was happening in the '70s and the '80s and the '90s with these abusive priests," Frondorf said. "Instead of the bishops transferring them from parish to parish ... they're transferring themselves, because they are not under anybody's authority or responsibility after they're suspended."
That's why SNAP would like to see more communications from the church regarding these advisories, issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"We are not alleging that either of these priests are currently being abusive," Frondorf said. "What we are saying is, if it was important enough for the United States Catholic Bishops Conference to notify the bishops and if it was important enough for the bishops to notify the individual priests ... Archbishop (Daniel) Pilarczyk himself should have notified the people in the pews. He's got a Web site, he's got a newspaper. ... He should have made it known."
Frondorf went on to say that pedophiles don't stop.
"These guys don't stop abusing," he said. "There is no cure."
While technically correct — there is no "cure" for pedophilia and other forms of sexual addiction that lead to abuse — sexual acting out, like alcoholism or drug addiction, is a mental illness that can be controlled with therapy. Stuart Bassman, a local psychologist who treats both sex offenders and abuse victims, says it's possible for offenders to control their behavior and not offend again (see "Postcards From the Edge," issue of Jan. 11, 2005).
Speaking on the sidewalk in front of St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, SNAP offered a suggestion for Pilarczyk.
"We call on him today to do something affirmative about these potentially abusive priests," Frondorf said. "I wish that they would look to SNAP as a way to help them. We don't like coming down here and being combative like this. There's a lot of abused kids that, working together, we can prevent."
But the archdiocese has a Web page devoted to "Setting SNAP Straight," so collaboration doesn't seem very likely. Andriacco said he's never been approached by the group to partner in that manner.
Another tactic the Cincinnati Archdiocese might want to consider is what Monsignor Michael Reed of Pensacola-Tallahassee said when asked about Castillo's whereabouts.
"The last we had heard he was in California," Reed said. "He had just been removed from a position there that he had fraudulently acquired. We have somebody who keeps track of him."
For more information, visit snapnetwork.org.
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