A New York Catholic Bishop has caused outrage after claiming that victims of pedophile priests only have themselves to blame because “children are asking to be raped”.
Bishop Robert Cunningham made the shocking comments during a deposition for a lawsuit in which the victim claimed he had been sexually assaulted by a number of priests from the Syracuse diocese. Cunningham attempted to pass the blame back onto the victim by claiming that, in the eyes of the Church, the child who had been raped by a priest had “committed a sin”. Speaking about the 7-year-old child in question, he said: “The boy is culpable”. During his testimony, Cunningham not only said: “the boy (the victim) is culpable” – he also referred to victims as “accomplices”, saying it was “what they wanted” and they were “asking for it”.
According to Patheos, Bishop Cunningham made his odious claims in a 2011 deposition responding to a federal lawsuit filed by a man who said priests in the Syracuse diocese sexually abused him as a child. However, the despicable claims were only made public four years later (in September 2015). In response to the negative publicity and the loud calls for his resignation, Bishop Cunningham has attempted to distance himself from his horrific remarks. In a letter issued in September 2015, Bishop Cunningham tried to reassure his “brothers and sisters in Christ” that he is not the moral monster he appears to be. Cunningham writes: “Victims of abuse are never at fault!” Bishop Cunningham goes on to offer some rather tepid and unconvincing excuses for why he gave sworn testimony that child victims are to blame for being sexually assaulted by priests, and why such victims should be considered as “accomplices” in the rape and sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Catholic clergy.
Commenting on the story, David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said: “Blaming a victim of childhood sexual violence for his or her trauma is among the most inhumane things I can imagine a person saying, especially a well-educated man like a bishop.” Clohessy added: “It’s important to remember that a deposition remarks are the opposite of off-handed remarks. Cunningham chose his words carefully. That makes his callousness even more alarming.” At this point in time, nothing that members of the Catholic clergy say or do should come as a surprise. Source