7 Feb 2009

Bishop Jenky's letter: Media has 'intense hatred' of Catholics

Pantagraph.com Bloomington, Illinois
February 7, 2009

By Edith Brady-Lunny

PEORIA -- Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky is lashing out at the news media and Illinois courts over the handling of sexual abuse allegations made against priests. | Jenky's letter to Diocese

In a letter dated for distribution this weekend to Catholic parishes throughout Central Illinois, Jenky expresses concern over media coverage and court rulings he thinks have been unfair to the diocese.

“Amid all the tensions of our nation’s culture wars and in the face of the media’s intense hatred for our Catholic faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law,” wrote Jenky.

The diocese did not respond Friday to a request for comment on the letter.

Jenky defended the church’s policies and track record for dealing with abuse cases, saying credible claims have been settled while allegations unsupported by facts are rejected. He thinks measures put in place in recent years have made the church a safe environment for children.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria has not allowed abusive priests to move from parish to parish, said Jenky, who also vowed not to be intimidated by “choreographed demonstrations or the abuse that is sometimes personally directed against me” by victims’ support groups.

The bishop questioned the motives of attorneys representing some victims and groups supporting them, saying, “Obviously (they) have a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies.”

Jeff Jones, Peoria leader of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, responded Friday to a copy of the letter provided to the organization.

“It’s a sad day when the bishop has to use these kinds of tactics to make sure innocent victims receive no reparations. He will stop at nothing,” said Jones.

In his letter, Jenky also assures area Catholics that he will be a “prudent steward of the money you offer for the work of Christ” and warned that difficult days may lie ahead as the diocese faces the potential of more than a dozen abuse lawsuits.

A recent ruling from the 3rd District Appellate Court could reinstate cases dismissed in June 2007 on the grounds that the alleged victims waited too long to file charges. Among the priests named in the civil actions are former Monsignor Norman Goodman and former priest Louis Condon, both of whom served in Lincoln.

Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director from St. Louis, also took issue with the letter.

“At least 18 current or former Peoria priests are admitted, proven or credibly accused predators. Is Jenky actually claiming the church handled every one of these cases promptly, openly and honorably? That defies common sense and painful history,” she said.

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