SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) plans a demonstration Saturday at Little Rock Catholic diocese over what it believes is an inadequate response by Bishop Anthony Taylor to the case of an abusive priest.
Taylor announced in late September that a Yell County priest, James Melnick, had been permanently removed from the ministry after admitting “multiple acts of sexual misconduct with multiple adult victims.” The bishop apologized and called for any others with information about misconduct to come forward.
SNAP says Taylor should give more details about when abuse reports first surfaced, “so parishioners and the public know whether church officials addressed the matter promptly or tried to keep it quiet for weeks or months.”
SNAP also said Taylor should disclose Melnick’s whereabouts. It contends he hasn’t yet been officially defrocked, which means he’s still in the church’s employ and Taylor must know where he is.
Even if Melnick hasn’t committed a crime — though in some other states it’s illegal for clergy to have sexual contact with congregants — SNAP suggests there could be questions about witness tampering, destruction of evidence, intimidation of witnesses and obstruction of justice. It wants Taylor to urge anyone who’s seen or suspected misconduct to contact, not the church, but law enforcement.
SNAP also wants the bishop to post on church websites the names of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child-molesting clerics who’ve lived or worked in Arkansas. It said about 30 other bishops in the U.S. had done this. It’s a safeguard for others, SNAP said. BishopAccountability.org lists two Arkansas clerics accused of abusing children. Melnick and one other have been accused of abusing adults.
SNAP also points people to a blog written by Arkansan William Lindsey. He comments on the bishop’s removal of Melnick at the time the bishop was making a public entry into the same-sex marriage lawsuit on the side of opposing same-sex marriage. Melnick’s abusive acts occurred, Lindsey notes, while Melnick was himself writing on a personal blog against same-sex marriage. Melnick’s blog no longer appears on the web, but Lindsey says of Melnick’s writing:
How can you possibly write with a straight face, “Fertility is not a requirement for marriage, but being able to engage in the marital act, consummating the marriage through sex, is.” With a college education and advanced degrees in the field of theology, can you really be completely unaware that there are, indeed, heterosexual couples who cannot “engage in the marital act”? How can you be so spectacularly misinformed, when you have studied “marriage and the family” (!) at the prestigious Pontifical North American College in Rome and at the John Paul II Institute?