SNAP group says Archbishop Dolan lax on abusive priests
By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel
Posted: Feb. 6, 2009
Amid speculation that Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan might be named to head the New York Archdiocese, an organization representing victims of clergy sexual abuse said Friday that Dolan has not done enough to rid the archdiocese of pedophile priests or punish those who covered up their crimes.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests released the names of three priests, one deceased, it alleged had substantiated histories of abuse but had never been publicly identified.
The two surviving men, it said, remain priests in good standing in violation of a 2002 U.S. bishops charter requiring such clergy to be removed from ministry and not be presented publicly as priests.
"We're concerned that when the Vatican promotes a bishop, what he's done on the sexual abuse issue seems to be no concern at all," said SNAP Midwest Director Peter Isely.
Dolan was unavailable to comment Friday. Archdiocesan spokeswoman Julie Wolf said all three of the priests were members of provincial orders - a Jesuit, a Franciscan and a Salvatoran - and that the archdiocese has no authority over them.
"Archbishop Dolan has worked with the provincials to address the issue of sexual abuse, but he can't force them to distribute names," she said.
SNAP identified the priests as:
• Father Joseph Mika, a Franciscan who SNAP said is believed to be living in Franklin. His name appears in his order's December 2008 newsletter as one of its longest serving friars. Mika was accused in 2004 of sexually abusing a female student when he served at a Catholic school in Pulaski.
A 2008 document signed by the Franciscans' provincial minister, Father Leslie J. Hoppe, said Mika expressed sorrow and would be allowed to remain in the order "under appropriate restrictions." A letter signed last month by Hoppe to the victim says the order had already paid nearly $16,000 toward her counseling to deal with the abuse and could no longer afford, given the downturn in the economy, to help her.
Hoppe was out of town and unavailable to comment Friday.
• Father Joseph Turner, a former associate pastor at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Wauwatosa, who died in 2001. SNAP provided a 2002 letter written by Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Sklba saying he was convinced that Turner had sexually assaulted a man then serving a life sentence in a Minnesota prison. The assault happened in the 1960s, when the man had attended St. Pius parish.
Father David Bergner, provisional supervisor of Turner's order, the Society of the Divine Savior, was out of town Friday and unavailable to comment.
• The Journal Sentinel is not identifying the third priest, a Jesuit, because it could not obtain documentation verifying the allegations against him. SNAP alleged he had been accused of abusing children in South Dakota but provided no documents. The California law firm that SNAP said had the documents declined to provide them.
Father Luis Rodriguez, assistant provincial for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus, said the priest had been removed from the ministry in 2003 but reinstated. Rodriguez said reinstatement suggested the allegations were deemed unfounded.