AUSTRALIA - Cardinal Pell threatens to sue brave survivor and outspoken advocate
For immediate release Monday, June 1, 2015
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, bblaine@SNAPnetwork.org)
We should be grateful, at some level, that the planet’s second most powerful Catholic prelate is threatening legal action against victim of two predator priests.
At least Cardinal George Pell is showing his true colors. He bullied child sex abuse victims years ago. And he’s trying to bully child sex abuse victims now.
Pell issued a statement saying he would consult legal advisers after Pete Saunders, a survivor from the United Kingdom criticized his actions in clergy abuse and cover up cases.
Is this a Christian response? Someone challenges you, so you threaten legal action. That speaks volumes about Pell, but also about the kind of clerics Pope Francis promotes.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this on-going crisis has been the utter lack of attention given to the enormous contradiction between what Catholic officials say in public about abuse and what Catholic officials do in court about abuse. Hardball legal tactics - and threats of such tactics – are painfully common by men who profess to be Christ’s shepherds.
More than two decades ago, in a page one piece, the Wall Street Journal noted this hypocrisy:
Other journalist have done the same:
As he angrily puffed out his chest, Pell said, through an expert public relations team, that he "has taken a strong stand against child sexual abuse and put in place processes to enable complaints to be brought forward and independently investigated."
It may be worth noting, however, that a papal spokesman did NOT re-enforce this audacious claim to near perfection in dealing with victims, predators and enablers.
According to Vatican Radio, “Fr. Lombardi (said) that Cardinal Pell has always responded carefully and thoroughly to the accusations and questions posed by the Australian authorities.”
Lombardi did NOT try to defend Pell’s abuse and cover up record in Australia.
We don’t blame Lombardi.
Finally, we commend Pete Saunders for his courage. Other members of the church hierarchy – both ordained and lay people – should find the strength to speak their minds about this continuing scandal.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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)
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.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
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.