Letter from David Clohessy to Bishop Kurtz before meeting with SNAP of Tennessee
Bishop Joseph Kurtz
The Chancery of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville
805 Northshore Drive Southwest
Knoxville, TN 37919
Dear Bishop Kurtz,
As National Director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), I would like to support the efforts of our Tennessee branch of SNAP in getting the victims of Anthony J. O'Connell to come to the Diocese of Knoxville and tell their stories.
In an atmosphere of ignorance, no one heals. The Diocese of Knoxville remains virtually in the dark regarding what Anthony J. O'Connell did over 25+ years to ruin the lives of innocent young boys and men. We in SNAP know the truth from the mouths of the victims themselves, and we feel that their voices need to be heard in your diocese.
We see clear evidence that the Diocese of Knoxville is slowly and steadily reinstating Bishop O'Connell as a person to be admired and honored. The signs of this movement are as follows:
1. You have received direct communication from two of O'Connell's victims: Michael Wegs and Tim Link sent you a letter, dated Feb. 25, 2003, detailing the abuse they suffered at the hands of O'Connell when they were students at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Hannibal, Mo. The communication was ignored. Mr. Wegs, Mr. Link, and other former St. Thomas students remain available to meet with you at any time.
2. It took 11-1/2 months to get O'Connell's name off the Family Life Center in Oak Ridge. No one has adequately explained why an admitted child molester's name should have remained in a place of honor for even a day following the admission of this crime.
3. O'Connell was reported to have given you his "blessing" to the taking down of his name from the building. This is totally inappropriate given the shame he brought to the entire Church by the scandal of his molestation.
4. The Diocesan Council of Catholic Women is collecting a spiritual bouquet to "Honor Bishop O'Connell's 40th Anniversary as a priest." Again, this is in extremely poor taste given the mockery he made of his priestly vows and the negative message this sends to victims of sexual abuse. We at SNAP sincerely hope that O’Connell’s priesthood is not going to be celebrated by even a mention at any of the Masses on March 30th. Prayers for his victims would be fitting; honoring his priesthood would not be appropriate.
5. The Healing the Body of Christ program sponsored by the diocese during Lent clearly projects the "forgive, forget, and go on" message that is going to cause considerable outrage when the truth is fully known about O'Connell's abuse.
The truth will come out in the end either through your efforts to let the victims speak or through the investigative reporting of the news media. The Catholics of your diocese will feel victimized themselves when they realize that the truth was withheld from them. You, however, can be the conduit of truth and allay the outrage by hosting a forum for these victims and being present yourself to hear them. I urge you to consider the requests of SNAP of Tennessee when they meet with you this Friday.
Executive Director, SNAP (Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests)
314 566 9790