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Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

Abuse victims want priest’s name removed from chapel

September 22, 2005

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— A group of survivors of clergy sexual abuse on Wednesday urged the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and a Boy Scout group to remove the name of a priest accused of sexual abuse from a chapel at a Boy Scout camp near St. Joseph.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests asked Bishop Robert Finn and a Boy Scout headquarters in St. Joseph to remove the name of the late Rev. Sylvester Hoppe from the chapel at Camp Geiger.

The Scouts named the chapel after Hoppe in 1999, in honor of his nearly 75 years of involvement with the organization.

In the past three years, three men have filed lawsuits against the diocese claiming that Hoppe sexually abused them in the 1950s. The diocese settled one lawsuit for $10,000; the other two are still pending. The men claim in the lawsuits that the diocese ignored and covered up reports of abuse by Hoppe, who died in 2002.

SNAP believes other lawsuits against Hoppe are likely, said David Clohessy, the group's national director.

Removing Hoppe's name from the camp would be a simple, inexpensive gesture to show the diocese's support for victims of clergy sexual abuse, Clohessy said.

Although the camp is owned by the Boy Scouts and the diocese has no authority to change the name, it could encourage the Scouts to take that step, Clohessy said.

The Rev. Robert Murphy, vicar general of the diocese, issued a statement that did not address SNAP's request, other than noting that the Boy Scouts own and supervise the camp.

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