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Bishop Tells Congregations to Report Sex Abuse to Catholic Hotline, With no Mention of Calling Police

12/22/2011 12:36:00 PM
Jeffrey R. Anderson

After Rev. Bartley A. Sorensen, pastor at St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Churchville, Pennsylvania was arrested December 10th and charged with possession of child pornography, a bishop called on the congregation to report any suspected sexual abuse by the priest to a Catholic hotline. Incredibly he made no mention of calling the police.Sorensen.jpg

Calling the hotline may seem like the right move; after all, it’s how Rev. Sorensen was reported. But it’s certainly not the most direct line to get help and keep kids safe.

The investigation into Rev. Sorensen began after an employee of St. John Fisher walked in on the priest looking at a picture of a half-naked boy. When questioned, Rev. Sorensen admitted to possessing and viewing at least 100 child porn images, some of which were found on his computer’s hard drive. He had only been working at the church for a few weeks, but the church employee who reported him said he has spent many hours alone on his computer.

Child pornography is an incredibly serious crime, in fact, one that Fr. Lengwin, spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, recognized as “a disturbing and criminal act.” We agree. Then why not report any information or suspicion directly to law enforcement?