Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A daughter's mother won't help protect children

For immediate release:
Monday, March 22, 2010

Open Letter

Sue Bernard
Director of Public Relations
Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
Portland, Maine

Dear Ms. Bernard,

In a press release issued on Saturday, I asked Bishop Richard Malone to start acting like a real grownup. I asked him to become a responsible member of the community regarding the issue of child protection.

And now I am asking you to start acting like a mother who cares about protecting, not only her own child, but children everywhere, from cunning and manipulative child molesters.

Point number one. Providing full disclosure of all priest sex abuse cases in Maine on the diocese web site will help protect children, Ms. Bernard. It's that simple.

Point number two. Publishing such a database will also help unknown, heretofore silent, shame and guilt ridden child abuse victims realize for the first time that they aren't alone. Perhaps, for the very first time they will seek help.

And so, Ms. Bernard, it's way past time for you to start behaving in a mature and credible manner about the protection of children. For almost eight years now, you have been part of the problem. It's time for you to start being part of the solution.

In addition to your professional responsibilities, you are the mother of a teenage daughter. What do you suppose the parents of your daughter's friends would say to you if one of their children was raped by a molester priest like Father John Audibert and they knew you didn't tell anyone in the neighborhood that Audibert is a child molester?

Audibert lives in a Falmouth neighborhood that's full of kids and young people. You appear satisfied that children are safe because Audibert's crime has been made public.

C'mon, Ms. Bernard, no one in that Falmouth neighborhood knows that the man living there with his brother is named John Audibert. For God's sake, no one even knows what Audibert looks like. You diminish your credibility when you keep saying that Malone is protecting kids from Audibert because Audibert's name was once made public. Can you identify every public figure you've ever heard or read about? Of course not. You're being silly again.

And now we know that neither you, Bishop Malone, nor any other diocese official contacted Falmouth police or school officials in an effort to warn the community about Audibert's presence in Falmouth. By not saying or doing anything, Ms. Bernard, you made a conscious decision to allow other people's kids to be at risk of child sex abuse.

Which begs the question. If Audibert lived in your neighborhood, would you warn your own daughter?

How many more "Audibert's" do you know about who are living anonymously in other communities, Ms. Bernard? How many more children are in danger?

I urge you to reflect upon my words. Please realize that by virtue of your silence you are complicit when a child is abused and you could have done something to stop it.

You may have long ago found a way to compartmentalize your behavior like so many other church workers, Ms. Bernard, but the simple truth about your not warning neighbors in Falmouth about a dangerous child molester like Audibert is sufficient evidence to determine that you are more than willing to put other people's children in harm's way in order to protect your own interests.

Perhaps, Ms. Bernard, you would agree to meet with me. My words are not intended to be construed or measured in any other manner than that of an individual who is serious about and committed to protecting children.If you disagree with my assessment of your words and deeds, then please, do not run to your attorney but, instead, issue a cogent and principled response as to why you find it morally and ethically acceptable to neglect the safety of children.

Paul Kendrick
207 838 1319