Iowans who claim they’ve been abused by priests held a news conference this afternoon (Monday) in Dubuque, urging the Catholic church to discipline a retired bishop. Lawrence Soens is accused of abusing at least nine children over the decades in cities including: Sioux City, Davenport, Clinton and Iowa City. Al Burke is spokesman for Catholics for Spiritual Healing of Grand Mound.
Burke says he was abused by a priest and he wants to warn other Iowans about Soens. Burke says two of his brothers were victims, as were his nephews. He says he doesn’t want the abuse to continue and hit his grandkids and great-grandkids. Burke says the only way to make it stop is to make it public.
Burke, who is 72 and lives in LeClaire, says priests and other church officials will continue to abuse innocent young people unless there’s action. Burke says “the damage they’ve done is astronomical.” He says victims he meets with are “scarred for life. It has ruined their livelihoods, their incomes, their families.”
Burke says the public needs to be informed about Soens, because even though he’s retired from the Sioux City diocese, he’s still very active in the church. Burke says there are many well-substantiated accusations against Soens and the church leaders know about them but the public needs to “beware.”
In October of 2004, Burke says a Davenport bishop paid 20-thousand dollars to settle a claim against Soens, who retired in 2008.