Noting that the Vatican has placed convicted rapist Father Joseph Jeyapaul back into a parish, Barbie Latza Nadeau (and Daily Beast) write,
This may be the worst case we’ve ever seen. What does a priest have to do to get kicked out of the Catholic Church?
Nadeau quotes David Clohessy of SNAP, who states,
I say this carefully and only after considerable thought. The Jeyapaul case is the worst case we've seen.
As I noted several days ago, Megan Peterson, whom Jeyapaul was convicted of raping in the parish he pastored in Greenbush, Minnesota, when she was fourteen years old, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block his reappointment to parish ministry in India. As Nadeau states, Jeyapaul has admitted to raping at least two girls in his Greenbush parish. She writes,
After being charged with the abuse, which included rape and forcing at least one of the girls to perform fellatio on him, he fled home to India, where he was eventually arrested on an Interpol warrant. He was then extradited back to Minnesota, where he admitted his heinous crimes and entered a plea bargain in which, in exchange for a lighter sentence, he copped to molestation of one of the girls.
Jeyapaul was suspended from the priesthood and served a year and a day in prison in Minnesota, then was deported back to India after his release last July. The Minnesota diocese where he worked also settled a civil lawsuit with the victims in which one accused him of systematic abuse in the confessional of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush, Minnesota, where he would then tell the girl it was her fault, that she had made him "impure."
How much more proof would one need that the man cannot be trusted with minors?
But in February the Vatican cleared Jeyapaul for reassignment in parish ministry — and he was made head of the diocesan commission on education. As Nadeau reports, Megan Peterson's response to these developments is to state that they make her feel "abused, degraded and re-victimized all over again." She is asking for damages from the Ootacamund diocese which is placing Jeyapaul back into ministry, and she maintains,
Children deserve to be protected in India and nobody is doing this at this point. This pope has said that bishops who cover up [sexual abuse] and the offending clerics have no place in the church. I feel like this is a slap in the face.
About an hour ago, I tweeted a link to Barbie Latza Nadeau's story. Already, five people have retweeted it. Eric Rohrs responded with the following tweet:
@Pontifex must be held responsible for this vile breach of his promise to stop abusive priests & their enablers! https://t.co/1BnukJiweL— Eric Rohrs (@EricRohrs) April 24, 2016
Anthea Butler and I had the following Twitter conversation about this story:
@wdlindsy you are welcome. That is a heinous, horrific case. This is why no one believes the Catholic church is trying to reform itself.— ProfB (@AntheaButler) April 24, 2016
My point in bringing these tweets to your attention: this is a story that will not and should not be ignored. It is an egregious disclaimer to the assertion that Pope Francis is cleaning up the act of the Catholic church in the area of clerical abuse of minors.
For that reason, it deserves all the international attention it is now getting — and I encourage readers of this blog to help circulate the Jeyapaul story. Imagine, for a moment, how you yourself would feel if you were a fourteen-year-old girl raped by a priest in the context of pastoral ministry, who mustered the courage to come forward with your story and saw your assailant criminally convincted . . .
And then had to watch the church to which he owes allegiance place him back into ministry despite its claims that it wants to stop clerical abuse of minors.
The graphic: a detail from Rogier van der Weyden's "Descent from the Cross" (Museo Nacional del Prado), avaiable for online sharing at Wikimedia Commons.