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Barbara Dorris, Published January 02 2010

Bishop avoids important issues

The bishop of the Diocese of Fargo just seems incapable of giving a straight answer to simple questions about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups (“Diocese seeks the truth,” Dec. 22).

Our group asked him to reach out to others who may have been hurt by Father Gregory Patejko. We’ve asked him to explain why he kept quiet about Patejko’s alleged crimes, even after paying off one of his victims.

We’ve asked Bishop Samuel Aquila to investigate reports that three current church staffers stayed silent about credible abuse accusations against Patejko. We’ve also asked the bishop to alert parishioners in two other states where Patejko worked about the allegations against him.

The bishop continues, sadly, to duck and dodge these clear and simple requests. So when Aquila says that the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests is critical of how his diocese “has addressed” pedophile priests, he’s missing the boat.

We are critical, like many others, of how Aquila is responding right now, and his refusal to either heal the wounded or protect the vulnerable.

Dorris is outreach coordinator of Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests in St. Louis.