- Bishops reportedly approved new “hardball” strategy v. SNAP
- Group tells top church officials: “Go after predators, not victims”
- It begs Catholics and citizens for help in fighting “unprecedented attacks”
- And it urges St. Louis archbishop to “come clean” about who’s behind the moves
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will respond to a new page one New York Times story today and will urge St. Louis’ archbishop to:
--stop demanding the private e mails of a teenaged St. Louis child sex crime victim,
--apologize for and explain his decision to make this “intimidating” move, and
--disclose which bishops may have discussed or approved a new church “hardball” legal strategy.
They will also beg parishioners and the public to
--contact Catholic officials and insist that they stop and/or denounce this legal tactics, and
--use their time, energy, and donations to help the support group “fight the legal attacks.”
Today, Tuesday, March 13, 2:00 p.m.
Outside archdiocesan chancery office, 4445 Lindell (near Sarah) in St. Louis MO
Two-four clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a confidential support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) including the organization’s long time director
A page one New York Times story today details what victims and their advocates are calling an unprecedented attacks” by Missouri Catholic officials to “intimidate child sex abuse victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and those who help them” by seeking subpoenas and massive amounts of private communications between victims and a support group.
It quotes the head of the NY-based Catholic League as suggesting that several bishops have decided to “come together collectively” to “better toughen up” (However, the US bishops’ official public relations staffer denies this.)
In St. Louis, archdiocesan lawyers are demanding that SNAP turn over perhaps hundreds of pages of the group’s confidential records, including emails to and from a now 19 year old who was repeatedly raped nine years ago by a priest. And in Kansas City, church lawyers and demanding private communications going back 23 years, even from now-deceased individuals who never set foot in KC and who had no knowledge of or role in clergy sex cases there.
The demands, SNAP says, are “invasive, chilling, and designed to discourage victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors and journalists” from contacting the group for help. They are also costing SNAP tens of thousands of dollars and “causing severe financial hardship” to the group. So SNAP is begging the public and parishioners to “use their resources, clout, voices and donations” to help the organization survive.
The demands arise from two civil lawsuits one called “Jane Doe v. Fr. Joseph D. Ross and the St. Louis archdiocese” and another called “John Doe BP v. Fr. Michael Tierney and the Kansas City diocese.”
The St. Louis suit charges that Ross molested a girl from 1997-2001 at St. Cronan’s Catholic church in the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis city. In 1988, Ross pled guilty to sexually assaulting an 11 year old boy. But after his sentence was completed, Catholic officials quietly put Ross at St. Cronan’s and warned no one of his criminal past. Ross worked as recently as 2002. His current whereabouts are unknown.
The Kansas City suit charges that Tierney molested a boy. At least four other accusers in separate lawsuits have come forward against Tiereny and he was suspended last year because church officials deemed some of the allegations credible.
SNAP believes that this intrusion into the private messages and writings of a child rape survivor is “unwarranted, unnecessary, and hurtful.” They are calling on the two Missouri bishops to call off these hardball tactics immediately. And they want a former St. Louisan, NYC Cardinal Timothy Dolan (who heads the US Conference of Bishops) to publicly denounce the bishops who are using this “mean-spirited” legal tactic.
The demands for document are and depositions are “firsts” in SNAP’s 23 year history. SNAP is not a party to either lawsuit.
Ross has been defrocked. In recent years, he lived in Arkansas but worked in the St. Louis area for 30+ years. Tierney is still a priest and believed to be living in Kansas City.
SNAP is holding similar events today in Washington DC(where the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is headquartered) and New York City (where Dolan, head of the USCCB, now works).
Catholics canât sit silently in the pews. We must fight back and send a clear message to the American Bishops. Begin by contacting local Bishops and tell them ENOUGH! The churchâs shameful behavior has caused so much pain to abused children and their families, some victims have committed suicide to escape the hurt. Refuse to fuel this institution power MONEY! When the collection basket is passed at mass, put an IOU in that reads WHEN THE CHURCH CHOOSES TO STOP ABUSING CHILDREN I WILL PAY MY CONTRIBUTION!
SNAP has provided a way for survivors of abuse to talk about what they’ve suffered, and find comfort and healing as a result. As a victim my first SNAP meeting for me broke the icy wall of guilt I was living in. I learned the broken little boy inside me, the shame he carried was not my shame, it belonged to my perpetrator! I came away from that meeting with a new found courage, to speak of my abuse, and to speak out against it, for the future protection of children. After forty years since my abuse I now had a voice to be heard.
SNAP advocacy has made this world a safer place, exposing the truth and having sexual perpetrators within the church removed from ministry. We need to Insist that the Catholic Church get serious about protecting children, straighten out their priority’s, stop fighting and start supporting SNAP’s efforts to bring healing to its victims and safety to children.