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Bishop urged to help find 2 priests

Clergy abuse group calls them a threat

Rhoades

– Two representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests on Thursday urged the bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese to account for the whereabouts of two priests removed from ministry after credible sexual abuse allegations.

Judy Jones, SNAP’s Midwest region associate director, said the group wants Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades to post the information on the diocese’s website, as 30 other U.S. bishops have done.

“If they are too dangerous to work in a parish somewhere,” she said, “they are too dangerous to be out amongst other places where they have access to kids.”

Jones and SNAP member Steven Spaner, both of the St. Louis area, stood in front of the diocese’s offices at 915 S. Clinton St. for about an hour beginning at 10:30 a.m., speaking to the media and holding pictures of male and female child victims.

Jones said the issue was of rising importance as the church defrocks more priests because they are generally not subject to the same restrictions as sexual abusers prosecuted through the legal system.

Sean McBride, diocese spokesman, said he did not know whether the group had contacted Rhoades directly.

“We have no response to today’s activities,” he said.

In January, the diocese removed from ministry the Rev. James F. Seculoff, then 77, a former principal at Huntington Catholic High School and pastor at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Haven.

His last assignment was at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Walkerton.

Within a month of Seculoff’s removal, three other people came forward with allegations deemed credible, the diocese reported.

Last June, the Rev. Cornelius J. Ryan was removed as administrator of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Hessen Cassel, after admitting abusing a young boy while serving in Uganda two decades earlier.

He had been placed there when the church’s previous priest, the Rev. Thomas Lombardi, was removed in late 2011 after a sexual abuse allegation stemming from a case at St. Louis Catholic Church-Besancon, another church Lombardi had served.

While commending Rhoades for removing the priests, Jones said the bishop should visit every parish served by them, asking victims and others to speak up.

She also urged abuse by priests be reported to local law enforcement, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place.

rsalter@jg.net

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