Davis, says the Kansas Bureau of Investigation is investigating the Salina diocese as well as other dioceses across Kansas.
Davis adds that those who have been abuses have been trapped because they have no way to find a counselor or someone they can talk to because their communities are too small.
Clohessy says SNAP is focused on preventing future abuse.
Clohessy says they hope Bishop Vincke will add the names of three former Priests including Fr. Ronald Gilardi who in 2000 was arrested for sexually abusing a boy in 1993 and 1994 and appears to now be a registered sex offender in Missouri. The others include the late Fr. Thaddeus Posey, who is accused of abuse dating back to the 1980s and Fr. Donald McCarthy, who worked in the Salina diocese for 36 years.
On March 29, Bishop Vincke released the below statement after the 14 names were released:
“In September of 2018, shortly after I arrived in Salina, I asked that an independent review be completed on our priest files. In this edition of The Register, you will find the results of that investigation. There are 14 diocesan priests who have substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor. Additionally, you will also find the results of the independent investigation conducted by the Order of Franciscan Minors Capuchin Province of St. Conrad, headquartered in Denver. They have listed 13 Capuchins who have served in our diocese at some point within their ministry and who have credible allegations of abuse of a minor.
I begin by offering my apologies to all people who are victims of clergy abuse and to the families of any person who was abused. My heart aches for you. I am sorry for any time in the past when the diocese did not appropriately respond to the plea of an individual who was a victim of abuse. There have been times in the past when the Church failed to address the needs of the people who are victims in favor of protecting the reputation of the priest. I am sorry for any time in the past when the Church attempted to solve the issues on their own instead of informing the proper law enforcement of an allegation. By our omission, we committed a terrible injustice to all people who are victims of abuse. We realize that the majority of the clergy abuse occurred decades ago; however, the wounds of that abuse are very deep.
I have made mistakes, too. I haven’t always given the people who are victims of clergy abuse my best attention and prompt response.
I am also very sorry to the faithful, who like me, wonder, “How could this happen?” I know for many of you, the clergy abuse scandal has caused great pain and angst. I also apologize to any of you who were hurt by my decision to allow Theodore McCarrick to live at the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria.
For the sake of transparency, I would like to identify some of the most prominent mistakes the Diocese of Salina has made in the past with regard to clergy abuse of minors.
First of all, the independent investigation showed that our clergy files were not well organized. Myself and members of my staff have already taken steps to remedy this situation. This is one mistake. But, I would like to share with you the mistakes the Diocese of Salina made with regard to four separate priest cases.
There were times when allegations against Msgr. William Merchant were not properly investigated. In looking at Msgr. Merchant’s file, I was disheartened to discover that these allegations were mishandled. In 1968, the Salina Diocese received two allegations of abuse of a minor against Msgr. Merchant. A more thorough investigation of these allegations should have been done. In 1999, another allegation of abuse of a minor was made against Msgr. Merchant. It does not appear that a thorough investigation into this allegation was conducted until 2002, when the alleged victim reached out again. In 2002, the Salina Diocese properly investigated the allegation. Since then, several individuals have made allegations of abuse of a minor against Msgr. Merchant. I believe that the Salina Diocese has taken the proper course of action with the allegations that occurred following 2002.
In 2002, an allegation of abuse of a minor was made against Father Roger Hough. The Lay Review Board and local law enforcement investigated the allegation. The Lay Review Board recommended that Father Hough be removed from active ministry and placed under restrictions. This recommendation was not acted on until 2005. In 2005, restrictions were placed on Father Hough. Additionally, the Lay Review Board submitted a report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome to ensure the permanency of the disciplinary and restrictive measures placed on Father Hough.
In 2001, there was an allegation made against Father John Walsh. At that time, prior to concluding a thorough investigation, Father Walsh was allowed to retire, apparently without restrictions.
Father Robert Schleiter, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita who was serving in the Salina Diocese, had substantiated allegations against him in the 1950s. He was immediately asked to leave the diocese, and he did. However, in the 1990s, an alleged victim contacted the diocese to report abuse, and the diocese did not respond appropriately. The same alleged victim contacted the diocese again in 2003. At this point, the diocese responded to his allegation.
It is difficult to share these failings with you. But, I think it is necessary. The Church needs to be open, honest and transparent. The Church has made mistakes. The Diocese of Salina has made mistakes. I am very sorry for the mistakes that we have made. It is my sincere desire that we can learn from our errors and never let them happen again.
As a diocese, we have already made progress ensuring that we respond appropriately and effectively to any allegations of misconduct that are made against any clergy. Every year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops contracts an independent group to audit every single diocese in the country to ensure that any allegations against a member of the clergy have been handled correctly. We have consistently passed these audits since 2004. Additionally, we ensure that every Salina diocesan seminarian goes through a thorough background check and psychological evaluation before entering into the seminary. While in the seminary, annual human formation reports are submitted to my office for review. Our diocese requires any person who works with minors to undergo formal training (please see FAQ’s for more details). And lastly, in order to serve outside of their own diocese, all members of the clergy must have a letter of suitability from their bishop stating that they are “a priest in good-standing.”
I ask for your continued support and prayers for our diocese. Personally, I am praying for healing. I have offered numerous Masses in my chapel for the people who are victims of clergy abuse, and I have visited 29 parishes in our Diocese and offered a Mass of Healing. I will be visiting the remaining 57 parishes throughout the rest of 2019.
I am sincerely grateful that the individuals who are victims of abuse and their families have spoken out. Thank you for keeping the Church accountable. Your courage will bring about the purification that we need. If you are a victim of abuse and have not reported it, please do so (please see FAQ’s for more details).
I also want to thank the priests who have served so faithfully. Sometimes, our fear and anger towards the priests who have done great evil makes us forget that many of the Catholic priests have lived lives of prayerful sacrifice. I would also like to thank Cottonwood Law, the Lay Review Board and the diocesan staff who all assisted in creating this special report. The time and sacrifice of these individuals has been tremendous. Lastly, thank you to the parishioners of the Salina Diocese for your faith and understanding. I pray that, by our example, the Church is brought to greater healing and purification. “