A group of advocates for people who were abused by Catholic priests says they are disappointed by a meeting today (Monday) with the state’s four Catholic bishops. Ann Greene of DeWitt, a spokeswoman for Catholics for Spiritual Healing, says today’s brief meeting was nothing like the “warm” meeting they had with the bishops on February 2nd. “We are disappointed in the discussions today. We were hopeful at our last meeting that the bishops came into this open-minded,” Greene says.
The group has been asking the bishops to forbid retired Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens from celebrating mass or having contact with children because he has been accused of abusing children. Greene says the bishops said they would each, individually consider that request. “Stonewalling would be a very appropriate term,” Greene says. “That’s what our meeting was.”
Greene says earlier this month they’d asked the bishops if there’d been a church investigation of Soens and the bishops told them no. But Greene says just last week documents were filed in Scott County Court confirms there was an investigation and Archbishop Jerome Hanus helped determine “where, when and who” would be part of the confidential church investigation into the allegations against Soens.
“They have told us today that they don’t collaborate. They have told us today that they don’t know information from diocese to diocese,” she says. “They kept saying they didn’t know about the accusations against Bishop Soens when in fact in the confidential report it states that Archbishop Hanus was a part of the discussion to determine where that investigation was going to be held.”
Greene says they want the public to know the bishops are conducting “business as unusual.” “We went to them in good faith to ask for some help regarding Bishop Soens and they shut us down,” Greene says. The state’s four Catholic bishops of Iowa issued a written statement, saying “the spirit of this meeting was different as a result of media reports in which the bishops were accused of being dishonest in the previous meeting.”
Greene says the bishops must have been under the mistaken impression that details of the previous meeting were to be kept out of the media. “We are not about being a part of the secrecy that has been perpetuated by the Catholic Church,” Greene says. Greene says the bishops brought a reporter for a Catholic newspaper to the February 2nd meeting, and Greene she only asked that the names of victims discussed during that meeting not be released.
The four Catholic bishops of Iowa say the allegations regarding Bishop Soens have been sent to the pope’s representative in the U.S. The bishops’ statement went on to say that “each Iowa diocese has implemented extensive safe environment programs for the protection of children and for outreach to victims. Each diocese remains committed to protecting children. Each bishop remains committed to meeting individually with victims.”