March 05, 2005

Bishop has chance to make diocese honest, accountable

The Argus


ON Feb. 24, The Argus broke a story about the Catholic Diocese of Oakland's duplicity in moving a convicted sexual felon to Niles, where he allegedly abused at least three altar boys, "Church knew of pastor's sex past."

When diocese spokesman Father Mark Wiesner was asked why The Rev. James Clark's personnel file did not contain records of his arrest, probation or court-ordered psychiatric care, Wiesner said he "could think of no reason why the information about Clark's conviction would have been excluded."

He went on to say: "But the church of 40 years ago is not the church of today," implying today's church would not hide or destroy such data.

At best, Wiesner is mistaken. At worst, he continues a tradition of deceit.

To wit: Former Oakland Chancellor and Vicar General George Crespin was featured recently in the Dallas Morning News ("Why DA Bill Hill Should Be Wary," Feb. 15). In a deposition the News excerpted, Crespin admitted keeping records of abusive priests clear of their personnel files. He said his lawyers directed that behavior.

Reportedly, Crespin was in charge of investigating sex abuse allegations leveled against the diocese, and until 1994 was second in command to the bishop.

Posted by kshaw at March 5, 2005 09:46 AM