www.RememberTheSurvivors.net

SNAP of Tennessee

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee 

Response from Bishop regarding request for removal of O'Connell's images

Office of the Bishop Diocese of Knoxville

October 28, 2003

Mr. David Clohessy
National Director Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis, MO 63143

Dear Mr. Clohessy,

May God's blessings be with you. I acknowledge your letter of October 9,2003.

In your letter you have written of the incidents of sexual abuse that have come to light over the last two years and the proper efforts of the Church to deal effectively in the reaching out to victims and in safeguarding children and youth now and in the future.

Your letter gives me the opportunity to explain the steps that we in the Diocese of Knoxville have taken. Recently we received the results of the independent audit concerning our efforts to put into practice the terms of the Charter and the Particular law of the Church related to this issue. A full revision of our Policy related to Sexual Misconduct has been now completed and, effective September 1. 2003, is now required within the Diocese. We will regularly reach out by notices in our Diocesan Newspaper to the faithful so they know the steps to be taken if there is suspected abuse. We have also put into place a Review Board and a Victim Assistance Coordinator. You may wish to read of these steps in the past editions of The East Tennessee Catholic (website:ETCATHOLIC).

In addition, I am committed to ensuring that a safe environment and program, spoken of in the Charter, is cultivated within the Diocese. In this regard, we have contracted with VIRTUS and have put in motion the training of facilitators who in turn will assist parishes and schools in cultivating this safe environment in a healthy and direct fashion.

In your letter, you mentioned specifically the charges against the founding bishop, Bishop Anthony O'Connell. I understand that there have been lawsuits concerning Bishop O'Connell. I have cooperated fully with the proper public authorities in these situations. I am also firmly committed to cooperate fully with the public authorities if additional allegations arise. I have made this known to our people and will continue to deal honestly and openly in this area.

Finally, you mentioned pictures of Bishop O'Connell. In the Diocese of Knoxville there is no policy or uniform custom concerning the display of former bishops, pastors or principals. However, I am aware that the Church throughout her history has kept record of those who are part of history. The Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls in Rome has in the Basilica ceiling a display of all the popes throughout the centuries. This practice in some of our parishes or schools is not an attempt to justify or honor what is dishonorable in the past history of the Church but to acknowledge our roots. The photograph that has been placed in a prominent position at Knoxville Catholic High School is my own, as the current bishop. The photograph of Bishop O'Connell at the school is in a corridor in line with the photographs of all the other past bishops who have had a part in the school's history. In addition, with these bishops' photographs, there are photographs of the many priests and religious who are among the KCHS alumni.

I intend to continue to give leadership in the area of protection of youth and children and to give compassionate care to anyone who might have been abused in the past. I believe the steps that have been taken will allow us to do this. In listening to the faithful throughout the Diocese, the vast majority, while not eager to address the painful and hurtful realities of abuse, are supportive of the steps being taken. I thank you for your prayers for us as we seek to serve the Lord in a manner that honors the sacred trust given to those who serve as leaders in our Church.

Sincerely yours in Our Lord,


Joseph E. Kurtz
Bishop of Knoxville

JEK:aec

Response from Bishop regarding request for removal of O'Connell's images

Office of the Bishop Diocese of Knoxville

 

October 28, 2003

 

Mr. David Clohessy,

National Director Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests

7234 Arsenal Street

St. Louis, MO 63143

 

Dear Mr. Clohessy,

 

May God's blessings be with you. I acknowledge your letter of October 9,2003.

 

In your letter you have written of the incidents of sexual abuse that have come to light over the last two years and the proper efforts of the Church to deal effectively in the reaching out to victims and in safeguarding children and youth now and in the future.

 

Your letter gives me the opportunity to explain the steps that we in the Diocese of Knoxville have taken. Recently we received the results of the independent audit concerning our efforts to put into practice the terms of the Charter and the Particular law of the Church related to this issue. A full revision of our Policy related to Sexual Misconduct has been now completed and, effective September 1. 2003, is now required within the Diocese. We will regularly reach out by notices in our Diocesan Newspaper to the faithful so they know the steps to be taken if there is suspected abuse. We have also put into place a Review Board and a Victim Assistance Coordinator. You may wish to read of these steps in the past editions of The East Tennessee Catholic (website:

ETCATHOLIC).

 

In addition, I am committed to ensuring that a safe environment and program, spoken of in the Charter, is cultivated within the Diocese. In this regard, we have contracted with VIRTUS and have put in motion the training of facilitators who in turn will assist parishes and schools in cultivating this safe environment in a healthy and direct fashion.

 

In your letter, you mentioned specifically the charges against the founding bishop, Bishop Anthony O'Connell. I understand that there have been lawsuits concerning Bishop O'Connell. I have cooperated fully with the proper public authorities in these situations. I am also firmly committed to cooperate fully with the public authorities if additional allegations arise. I have made this known to our people and will continue to deal honestly and openly in this area.

 

Finally, you mentioned pictures of Bishop O'Connell. In the Diocese of Knoxville there is no policy or uniform custom concerning the display of former bishops, pastors or principals. However, I am aware that the Church throughout her history has kept record of those who are part of history. The Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls in Rome has in the Basilica ceiling a display of all the popes throughout the centuries. This practice in some of our parishes or schools is not an attempt to justify or honor what is dishonorable in the past history of the Church but to acknowledge our roots. The photograph that has been placed in a prominent position at Knoxville Catholic High School is my own, as the current bishop. The photograph of Bishop O'Connell at the school is in a corridor in line with the photographs of all the other past bishops who have had a part in the school's history. In addition, with these bishops' photographs, there are photographs of the many priests and religious who are among the KCHS alumni.

 

I intend to continue to give leadership in the area of protection of youth and children and to give compassionate care to anyone who might have been abused in the past. I believe the steps that have been taken will allow us to do this. In listening to the faithful throughout the Diocese, the vast majority, while not eager to address the painful and hurtful realities of abuse, are supportive of the steps being taken. I thank you for your prayers for us as we seek to serve the Lord in a manner that honors the sacred trust given to those who serve as leaders in our Church.


Sincerely yours in Our Lord,

 

 

Joseph E. Kurtz

Bishop of Knoxville

 

JEK:aec