Dominica's Catholic bishop must do more about a now-defrocked priest.
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP,the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
We're glad that Fr. Reginald LaFleur has been defrocked. That, however, doesn't "cure" him. He remains a risk to kids. And Bishop Gabriel Malzaire knows this.
So Malzaire must use his vast resources – pulpit announcements, parish bulletins and diocesan website – to urge others who saw, suspected or suffered Fr. LaFleur's crimes to call police and prosecutors so that other kids are spared horrific trauma. Kids are safer when child molesters are jailed. Malzaire can help put this one there. But only if he shows real courage and compassion and aggressively prods others with information or suspicions about LaFleur to call law enforcement.
Catholic bishops recruit, educate, ordain, supervise, shield and transfer child molesting clerics. Then, often bishops kick them out when they're caught. But that's not enough. Bishops should go further and actively help law enforcement find evidence to convict these child molesters. That is the civic and moral duty of every Catholic employee – current and former – in Dominica. And Malzaire should lead by example. He should go to every place where LaFleur worked and beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to contact police and prosecutors now about LaFleur.
Finally, Malziare should apologize to clergy sex abuse victims for his insensitive remarks about LaFleur's defrocking. The bishop apparently spoke only of the hurt he and the church suffered because of this priest's actions, ignoring the far greater pain of the priest's victims and their families.
"This is one of the most difficult things that I have ever had to do in my life as a bishop and priest," he said, calling it "excruciating." "We know how much universally the church has been hurt in matters of that sort," he said.