"DC Cardinal should resign," abuse victims say
"DC Cardinal should resign," abuse victims say
They demand that he post names of accused clerics on church websites
Group urges US Justice Department to investigate Catholic sex crimes & cover ups
And Washington church officials must stop blocking "sorely-needed state law reforms"
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy abuse survivors and their supporters will demand that Washington DC's top Catholic figure resign. They will also ask DC archdiocesan officials to:
--Post the names of all the current and former accused child molesting clerics on church websites, and
--Stop lobbying against efforts to reform "archaic, predator-friendly state laws."
The group will also urge:
-- State attorneys general across the US to launch investigations into their local dioceses,
-- The US Justice Department to launch a full-scale federal investigation into the systematic sex crimes and cover ups within the Catholic church, and
-- State lawmakers to extend statues of limitations and strengthen mandatory reporting laws to help deter future abuse and cover ups.
Tuesday, August 21 at 11:00 am
On the sidewalk in front of the United States Catholic Council of Bishops, 3211 4th St NE, Washington, DC
Three-four survivors and supporters from SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), including a Virginia woman who is a SNAP board member and a Virginia man who is a member of Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic group that supports victims of clergy abuse.
Last week, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a 887 page report that documents that little has changed in how the church handles sexual crimes and cover ups. The report details the systematic sexual abuse of children and coverups by top Catholic officials.
The head of the Washington Archdiocese, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, engaged in "absolutely abhorrent" behavior, according to AG Shapiro, who oversaw the nearly two-year long investigation. Cardinal Wuerl is mentioned almost 200 times in the report.
In 1988, Wuerl became head of the Pittsburgh Diocese. The report documents in detail the sexual abuse of children by Fr. Ernst Paone, Fr. George Zirwas and Fr. Richard Zula. “In spite of Wuerl’s statements to the Vatican, the clear and present danger to children was hidden and kept secret from parishioners in three states," the report says. "Wuerl had the ability to remove these three priests at any time. He also failed to notify the civil authorities thus allowing the statute of limitations on these crimes to run out." (Page #229)
The group is asking Washington archdiocesan officials to voluntarily disclose, to the public and to parishioners, all the current and former accused clerics and their whereabouts. SNAP also wants the Archdiocese to quit fighting against reforming statutes of limitations.
SNAP will also again urge lawmakers to remove the criminal and civil statute of limitations on child sex crimes and to pass a civil 'window' that would protect kids now by enabling victims to expose those who have committed or concealed child sex crimes in court. It would also deter future cover-ups. (Four states - MN, HI, DE and CA - have taken this important safety step, SNAP says.)
The victims’ group will announce that they are urging all the survivors and supporters in their database to write to the AG in their state and demand a grand jury investigation like the one Pennsylvania just completed. They are convinced that other jurisdictions will produce similar outcomes.
SNAP is also renewing its call for US Department of Justice action on this issue. Last week the group - along with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights wrote to Deputy US Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. They're asking the DOJ to initiate “a full-scale, nationwide investigation into the systemic rape and sexual violence, and cover-ups in the Catholic church, and, where appropriate, bring criminal proceedings against the hierarchy that enabled the violations.
The jurors conclude that “Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records. We believe that the real number – of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward – is in the thousands.” SNAP is holding support group meetings across Pennsylvania this week to reach out "to those still suffering in silence and shame," the group says.
SNAP is worried about those victims, and about children who are at risk now, because of predators who may be living or working near kids. Since very few clerics who enabled, hid or transferred predators have been exposed - and even fewer punished - SNAP also worries that this "callous and reckless pattern" will continue or be repeated.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, founded 30 years ago, provides support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.