Catholic Church in Tennessee in National Spotlight: Deacon removed for speaking out
- Memphis and Nashville send pedophile priest to New Mexico
- Attorney General of New Mexico says, "Go to the feds" for help
- Knoxville says, "We have no files. Go to Nashville."
Recent censure of Deacon Ron Deal made national headlines today in a prominent Catholic media source, the National Catholic Reporter.
"What does it say about transparency and openness when a deacon is removed for trying to assure that the whole truth is coming out from the diocese?" says Susan Vance, one of the leaders of SNAP of Tennessee. "We have many problems with the dioceses of Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis."
Vance sent a press release about James A. Kemper, one of the priests on the list of the16 Nashville pedophiles whose names were revised on November 8 to include Kemper. See copy of press release here: https://www.rememberthesurvivors.com/tennessee-pr-kemper-11292018
"Kemper's listing by Nashville is deceptive and incorrect. He was a priest in ministry in New Mexico, but he started out in Nashville and transferred to Memphis in 1971," says Vance. "I have been advised by the Attorney General's office in New Mexico that it would take Federal investigators because it is a multi-state issue. Both the diocese of Nashville and Memphis were involved in sending Kemper across state lines. So who has the secret canonical file on Kemper? Only Federal investigators would have jurisdiction to get the answer."
Kemper is on the list of pedophiles released by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as well.
"You will not get the truth from any one diocese. It will take a state-wide investigation of their files," says Vance. "The bishops are getting the information about the crimes of these priests from the canonical secret files which are under lock and key in each diocese. These need to be seized and studied by independent investigators."
Then there is the diocese of Knoxville which apparently received no secret canonical files from Nashville when Knoxville became a new diocese in 1988.
See the article in the Greeneville Sun from Dec. 12, 2018: https://www.greenevillesun.com/news/local_news/diocese-won-t-comment-on-third-party-investigation-bid/article_c65d0036-e6b6-5ab6-aaae-b5e4611736f0.html
"The mantra of the diocese of Knoxville to the press and to victims is "Go to Nashville. We have no files before 1988." Vance says. "I wish I had a nickel for everytime the Knoxville Diocese repeats that old refrain."
"On Septemer 8, 1988, East Tennessee got two things: 1) A name change from "Diocese of Nashville" to "Diocese of Knoxville." 2) A pedophile for a bishop, Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell. Now we know there is #3 on the list," says Vance. "The Diocese of Knoxville incardinated a group of priests with no canonical secret files sent from Nashville."
"I know that Anthony O'Connell didn't care who had allegations of child sex abuse on their records because O'Connell molested children himself. I am surprised, however, that Bishop Kurtz (2nd bishop of Knoxville and now Archbishop of Louisville, KY) and Bishop Richard Stika (3rd bishop of Knoxville) didn't demand these files. How did they know if children and teens were safe or not without the secret canonical files?"
"The fast-food chains in Knoxville have done better background checks on their employees than the diocese of Knoxville did on these priests," says Vance. "Perhaps it is time to admit to poor administration statewide and get law enforcement to see what has gone on, Our children deserve better protection than the poor oversight given by the bishops of these three dioceses."
About SNAP: We are SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We are the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns and others}. SNAPnetwork.org