For immediate release: Monday, March 10, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
In a savvy public relations move before he testifies to a government panel, Cardinal George Pell now conveniently claims he's OK with Catholic officials being sued when they ignore or conceal clergy sex crimes. He's being disingenuous.
We disagree with those who claim Pell's carefully-crafted statement “marked a significant shift.” Words don't protect kids and help victims. Actions do. And only decisive action by Pell and his colleagues can even begin to un-do a tiny bit of the horrific harm they've caused hundreds.
And remember: no matter what Pell claims or promises or recommends about Australia, he'll soon be in Italy. He will have no real ability to follow up on his words.
Pell also claims that Catholic officials are devising some “church mechanism” that would enable victims to sue the hierarchy. We are highly skeptical.
Victims don't need yet another internal, biased secretive church process. Victims need Catholic officials to either stop fighting victims in the secular justice system or to at least fight fair.
Pell shamelessly tries to distance himself and his complicit colleagues from mean-spirited and selfish legal tactics by blaming attorneys: “Whatever position was taken by the lawyers during the litigation, or by lawyers or individuals within the archdiocese following the litigation. . .”
That's deceitful. They lawyers didn't make these decisions. Callous church officials like Pell did.
Finally, John Ellis is a hero. He and his brothers and sisters in Australia – hundreds or thousands of them, who have been sexually violated by priests, nuns, bishops, seminarians and brothers - deserve more than vague promises and self-serving behavior from the church.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)