Dominicans need to 'set things right'

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Good job on the Fenwick article about sexual abuse committed by Fr. William Farrell, O.P. The story was clear and compelling. [Victims of former Fenwick priest tell their stories, News, Jan. 9]

Usually where there are two or three victims of sexual abuse, as with Fr. Farrell, there are more. It will be interesting to see if the article prompts others to come forward.

The story also shows the national scope of the problem. Fr. Farrell has victims in multiple cities over many years, making it harder to follow his trail. Similarly, Fr. Bob Crowe was at Fenwick but then spent 30 years at a parish in Amarillo, Texas. To my knowledge, the Dominicans have never reached out to the Amarillo Diocese.

Despite the words from the Dominican provincial, Fr. James Marchionda, and the president of Fenwick, Fr. Richard Peddicord, there are concrete steps that should be taken. For example:

The Dominicans should not wait till sometime "this year" to release names and details of all the abusing priests. They know the names, in most cases have for years, and should get on with it. For example, the Dominicans have known about Fr. Crowe's sexual abuse since 2002. This is not a story that gets better with time.

Fenwick should share the article with alums from the 67-70 classes so that others who may be suffering in silence from Fr. Farrell's abuse have an invitation to come forward.

Real reconciliation means not being a passive receiver of victim reports. Telling survivors to phone the office and report the abuse so that the Dominicans can issue an apology and put this behind them is not pastoral. (In the article, Prior Provincial Marchionda called this "setting everything right.")

The Dominicans and Fenwick need to take some long-overdue affirmative steps to begin addressing the abuse, any cover-up, and its aftermath.

Jack Crowe

Executive director, Year Up - Chicago

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