NOTE: This article was originally published on March 18, 2023.
Earlier last week, Stephen Mittler, who was repeatedly abused by a Catholic priest in the 1980s and ‘90s, met in Washington, D.C., with some of the church’s most powerful leaders. Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s Bishop Edward Scharfenberger accompanied Mittler during the meetings.
In one picture from the trip shared on Mittler’s Facebook page, Scharfenberger sits back comfortably in a plushy chair, a big smile across his face. Of course, Mittler is smiling, too.
That’s because, painful as it is to recall the rape and molestation he experienced as a teenager at then-Corpus Christi Church pastor Mark Haight’s cabin in Warren County, Mittler has accepted the important advocacy work in which he now engages following a $750,000 June settlement of a New York State Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
Mittler felt as though he was making progress at the meetings in Washington, where cardinals, archbishops and others from around the world – including Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre, who is the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States government – seemed to value the need for transparency.
“They clearly saw my point as I work to shed a different light on these underreported crimes,” Mittler posted to Facebook. “I asked each of them to go back to their dioceses/archdioceses and begin to share this perspective with their bishops and priests.”
Two days later, back in Albany, Bishop Scharfenberger made an announcement that takes the diocese in the complete opposite direction.
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