A seventh member of a 10-person board charged with reviewing cases of Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse has signed on to a letter critical of some of Seattle Archbishop...
A seventh member of a 10-person board charged with reviewing cases of Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse has signed on to a letter critical of some of Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett’s actions.
Bill Lennon, a state-certified provider of sex-offender treatment and director of a counseling practice in Bellevue, said yesterday that he had been out of the country when six of the board members met earlier this month. That meeting was to discuss how they would respond after receiving a Dec. 3 letter from the archbishop saying the board essentially would be disbanded.
In a letter of response sent Monday, the six criticized Brunett for, among other things, suggesting future abuses by local priests were unlikely to happen; not releasing the names of offending priests until after the Vatican has decided their fates; and trying to soften a board report critical of church policies, and releasing it in October only after board members threatened to resign.
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Lennon said yesterday he faxed a copy of his signed letter to board chairman Terrence Carroll, a retired King County Superior Court judge, to send on to the archbishop. “I believed in the statements that we were making,” Lennon said of his decision.
Seattle Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni said he didn’t understand some of the board’s criticisms, given that “there is no substantive disagreement” on broader goals.
On the issue of releasing names, for example, the review board and the archbishop agreed it was in the public’s interest, Magnoni said. “That’s why he’s agreed to do so. The archbishop, though, is not going to jeopardize the canonical process with a rush to the media with a set of names.”
The archbishop has said he would not release names of offending priests before the Vatican has made a final decision because until that point, a priest might be able to challenge the allegations under church law and get the case dismissed on procedural grounds. Brunett has released the names of four accused priests after Vatican decisions were made on them.
Lennon and Carroll are members of the case-review board, composed primarily of lay people who are experts in fields including law, sexual abuse and psychology. Board members were appointed by the archbishop to determine whether 13 priests accused of sexual abuse of minors were fit to continue in ministry. The board completed work on those cases in June.
Three members of the board — a priest, a professor of canon law and a nurse — did not sign the letter, and did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.
Carroll, the board’s chairman, said the board members who did not sign the letter had not responded to earlier drafts of the letter, nor to an invitation to the meeting. “If we didn’t hear from somebody, we assumed they didn’t want to participate,” he said.
Also yesterday, the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests sent a letter to Brunett urging him to not disband the case-review board and to release the names of offending priests. Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org