The following is a response to a piece put out in New Orleans’ fish wrap from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
As the grandson of a newspaper publisher, I can appreciate headlines as much as anyone; the better they are, the more readers and sales.
However, Friday’s completely false title “AG Jeff Landry says he has no authority to investigate Catholic church sex abuse" was nothing more than an over-the-top, sensationalized, false headline intended to mislead the public and attack me and my office.
Worse, the headline and entire tone of the story smacked of blatant, religious bigotry.
To insinuate that I, or anyone in my office, would ignore an attack against children from any source, including a church, is absolutely false.
To insinuate that because I am a Catholic that I would not protect the children of this State from a child predator is outrageous!
As a father and a Catholic, I am deeply offended. This article by the Times Picayune is pure unadulterated religious bigotry which we have not seen in this State since the hey-day of the Ku Klux Klan.
To be absolutely clear and accurate: to date, since I have been Attorney General, my office has not received one single complaint against any clergyman of the Catholic Church in the State of Louisiana or any referrals from a local District Attorney which is required under law for my office to initiate a prosecution.
As someone who has successfully won court case after court case on the separation of powers, I have no inclination of overstepping my constitutional authority or doing the Legislature’s job.
As a practicing Catholic, I wholeheartedly support efforts to root out pedophile priests and end the horrific misconduct by Church authorities. Those who sexually abused children and those who covered up their despicable acts should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
If any accusations are brought to my attention of this happening in Louisiana, my office and I will work with state, local and other officials to help find it, root it out, and working with local District Attorneys bring predators to justice.
Again, my office has yet to receive any Constitutional referrals on such matters from local District Attorneys.
My commitment to the rule of law and my desire to get justice are why I encourage anyone in our State’s seven dioceses to bring forward any charges that can be prosecuted.
I further encourage the Governor to dedicate State Troopers and State Police resources to assist in any investigation.
Again, there have been no criminal complaints made to the Louisiana Department of Justice. And smearing the Church and its clergy without specific complaints of criminal acts is irresponsible.
Claiming that I, or any other head of a law enforcement agency, will cover up criminal conduct because of our religious beliefs is bigotry, plan and simple.
The Times Picayune newspaper should be ashamed and should apologize to all Catholics within Louisiana and all believers of any Church who would see insinuations made against a church with no accusations of misconduct.
The readers of the Times Picayune and all other newspapers deserve reliable and trustworthy reporting, especially on matters as important and serious as child sex abuse. Friday’s clickbait failed on all accounts.