.- Catholic League president William Donohue says the request that the Archdiocese of Denver release all church documents related to sexually abusive priests and church employees who covered up priests' actions is “absurd.” The five groups that made the request “should be dismissed as witch hunters,” he said.
The groups, including Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and Voice of the Faithful, made the demand at a news conference in Denver on Thursday. The groups also put their request in a letter to Archbishop Charles Chaput, saying they "want the truth exposed.” The letter, as published by The Denver Post, claims that the archdiocese’s protection of private personnel files indicates that the archdiocese is keeping “deeply-held church secrets about clergy crimes.” The archdiocese rejected the demand. Jeanette DeMelo, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, noted that no priest who has been accused of sexual misconduct is in active service in the archdiocese and encouraged anyone with a credible accusation to come forward.
“It is absurd for any institution to simply dump confidential personnel files on the lap of strangers,” Donohue wrote in press release last week. The media, he said, would not hand over its personnel files on demand. “Ergo, what's good for the media is good for the Catholic Church,” he said.
Donohue also clarified a “lie” about Archbishop Chaput’s efforts to fight proposed legislation that would have removed a statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims against the Church, but would not have done anything for victims of sexual abuse by officials in public institutions. The archbishop, Donohue said, was in favor of a law that would allow for the disclosure of files - provided it included all institutions.
“The reason he rightly insisted on uniform application was due to the fact that when this issue was originally taken up, public schools were exempted,” Donohue explained. “It is only when the proposed laws were amended to include the public school industry that the teachers unions went ballistic, thus killing the legislation.”
The groups’ implication that “the Denver Archdiocese is responsible for the failure of Colorado lawmakers to pass this legislation is scurrilous,” wrote Donohue. “If they were really interested in protecting all minors, they'd begin by demanding that the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives and the Colorado Education Association stop their obstructionist tactics.”
The Denver Post reported that the archdiocese and lawyers, who have filed suits alleging sex abuse by clergy on behalf of some 30 plaintiffs, announced on Wednesday that one-third have agreed to out-of-court settlements with the archdiocese or are close to a settlement.