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August 20, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 21

ARTICLES

Bishop hits omissions in Virginian Pilot articles

When Paul Traub contacted the Virginian Pilot newspaper in Hampton Roads complaining that the Diocese of Richmond did not address his claim for compensation as a result of sexual abuse by a now deceased Franciscan priest, two journalists of that newspaper wrote separate accounts which omit important facts.

Mr. Traub, now living in Loudoun County, has been threatening such “exposure” or lawsuit since 2003. He alleges that he was sexually molested by the late Father Martin Brady, a Third Order Regular Franciscan priest, in 1968 and 1969.

He settled his claims with the religious order in 2003 and the board of the former James Barry-Robinson School in 2004. The diocese has consistently taken the position that the matter was properly resolved with the religious order and the private school, since the priest was assigned to the school by his religious community and the private school operated independently of the diocese.

Mr. Traub also made a similar complaint against a seminarian he could not identify. Thus the Diocesan Review Board could not reach any conclusion.

Contrary to Mr.Traub’s assertions, the Diocesan Review Board, with Father Pat Apuzzo and James V. Meath, its chairman, had extensive meetings with the complainant, as did Msgr. Thomas Caroluzza, who was then Episcopal Vicar for the Eastern Vicariate. The Board considered the matter more than once, concluding that liability properly was with the religious order and the private school.

The Franciscan officials in Hollidaysburg, PA, advised Mr. Traub that he should seek money from the diocese, but the diocesan attorney, William Etherington, and the Judicial Vicar, then Msgr. William V. Sullivan, concluded that this is wrong, both civilly and canonically in keeping with Church law.

The Charter for Protection of Children and Young People of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops states in

ARTICLE 3:

“Dioceses/eparchies are not to enter into settlements which bind the parties to confidentiality unless the victim/survivor requests confidentiality and this request is noted in the text of the agreement.”

Mr. Traub has been offered assistance with counseling and pastoral help which he declined in 2003, seeking only money.

Prior to going to the Virginian Pilot this summer, Mr. Traub last contacted the diocese in 2006.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo asserts that both Bill Sizemore and Kelly Dougherty, journalists with the Virginian Pilot, never mentioned in their respective articles the role the diocese has undertaken over the last 10 years in order to increase awareness of the grave disorder of sexual abuse of minors and to provide a safe environment for children and youth.

“We now find ourselves in the odd position of having journalists draw conclusions from incomplete information, thus leading others to erroneously conclude that their opinions are correct,” Bishop DiLorenzo said. “They are not.

Safe Environment statistics

In 2004, in order to provide the best possible response to the problem of sexual abuse of children and young people, the Diocese of Richmond established a Safe Environment Program with full-time staff members in the Office of Human Resources.

Every diocesan and religious order priest, deacon, seminarian, teacher, parish and diocesan staff and all volunteers have been trained using The VIRTUS Training Program which is the most widely used program in dioceses across the U.S.

All have had criminal background screening and/or been fingerprinted.

The following statistics have been compiled:

  • Total number of individuals who have had VIRTUS training and background screened — 35,541.
  • Total number of VIRTUS training sessions since 2004 — 1,596.
  • The estimated dollar amount spent on all child protection efforts to date — $615,000. Note, this includes training programs/support, background screens and percentages of salaries. This figure does not include outreach for victims such as counseling, therapy, medication, etc.

“Since 2002, the Church in the United States has experienced a crisis without precedent in our times,” Bishop DiLorenzo continued. “The sexual abuse of children and young people by some deacons, priests, and bishops, and the ways in which these crimes were addressed, have caused enormous pain, anger, and confusion.

“Bishops including myself have acknowledged their mistakes and have apologized, expressing great sorrow and profound regret for what people have endured.

“In 2011 with the revision of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Church leaders reaffirmed their deep commitment to creating a safe environment within the Church for children and youth.

“Bishops have relied on the Catholic lay faithful in each diocese, including the Diocese of Richmond, to be part of a Diocesan Review Board which seeks to provide the wisdom and expertise to advise me and my successors in these matters.

“As Bishop, I am grateful for their great faith, for their generosity and service.

“I also acknowledge and affirm the faithful service of the vast majority of our priests and deacons and the love that their people have for them. They deserve our esteem and that of the people they serve.

“It is regrettable that their committed ministerial witness continues to be overshadowed by this crisis in some people’s minds.

“I also wish to acknowledge the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families who have trusted us enough to come forward and share their stories and to help us appreciate more fully the consequences of this violation of sacred trust.

“I can state without exception, there is not a single priest serving in this Diocese who has had a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a child or young person made against him. There can be no doubt or confusion about our obligation to protect children and young people and to do everything we can to prevent sexual abuse.

“Since 2002 10 priests have been permanently removed from ministry because of credible accusations of sexual abuse of children or youth. Three of the 10 have been dismissed (laicized) by decree of the Holy See.

“One priest was exonerated. Four have been permanently removed from public ministry, and two cases are currently pending in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“Lastly, I want to take the opportunity, in the name of the Church and in the name of the Diocese of Richmond, to sincerely and publicly apologize to Mr. Traub for all the harm that was done to him, and for all he has suffered over the years as a result.

“I can only imagine his disappointment with the Church and its leaders. It took a great deal of courage to come forward then and now. Hopefully this attempt to tell his story will go a long way towards helping him to heal the past.”

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