In the face of two indictments, Bishop O'Brien has gone back into hiding

Also, there's good reason to believe more witnesses to O'Brien's role in blocking his priests from justice will soon be coming forward.

Paul Pfaffenberger, leader of a new Phoenix chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, says the Kennedys and the Kulinas are not the only parents who claim to have been turned away by O'Brien.

"The experience of the Kennedys and Kulinas is the experience of several of our members," he says. "Right now, these people aren't to the point where they feel ready to go public. It's so painful, it takes time. But I imagine that, in time, they'll be willing to speak out also."

Bishop O'Brien and his attorney, Mike Manning
Bishop O'Brien and his attorney, Mike Manning

As the evidence mounts that Thomas O'Brien was personally involved in sheltering molesters, diocese officials get further mired in double talk.

This summer, O'Brien promised to cooperate fully with county investigators.

Now, he says he won't talk to prosecutors openly unless he is given immunity from prosecution.

Again, he is acting like the CEO of Enron rather than the leader of the Valley's largest religious and moral institution.

In a press conference last week, diocese attorney Mike Manning told reporters that he has never discussed with O'Brien whether the bishop indeed told parents of abused children to keep quiet.

Manning has been O'Brien's attorney for six months. It seems extremely implausible that the diocese's lead attorney never discussed such a critical issue with his client.

Also, O'Brien promised to turn over all diocesan documents pertaining to sexual abuse by priests.

What prosecutors are discovering, however, is that diocese officials never made written reports for many of the accusations with which they were presented. This is a problem for prosecutors around the country. The church promised openness this summer. That openness, investigators are finding, has meant nothing more than turning over thousands of documents that diocesan officials know contain nothing because they know no records were kept.

Now, echoing the Thomas O'Brien of old, the bishop is once again blaming prosecutors and the media for all of his problems.

He is once again choosing a cowardly and unethical path.

He promised openness in the summer. As Christmas arrives, he still is not delivering.

Bishop Thomas O'Brien must immediately tell county prosecutors everything about his role in the diocese's sad history of protecting pedophile priests.

This is the path of courage, down which O'Brien must follow the Kennedy and Kulina families.

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