For immediate release: Tuesday, July 16
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
According to today’s LA Times, California Catholic officials are waging an expensive lobbying campaign against a bill that would expose predators, help victims, protect kids and deter wrongdoing.
Since the early 1990s, America’s bishops have claimed they've adopted tough new procedures, policies and protocols to prevent abuse. If that’s true, why are they now still so dreadfully afraid of child sex abuse and cover up cases.
Here’s why the bill focuses on private institutions, not public ones: because that’s where the problem largely is. When abuse happens in a public school, a parent can file a Freedom of Information Act request, speak up at a school board meeting, campaign against board members, run for the board, and fight against bond issues and tax levies. So there are some “checks and balances” and some avenues for redress.
When abuse happens in a private school, no such remedies exist. And private schools depend heavily on their reputations so are more apt to cover up abuse cases.
Once real strides are made to clean up private institutions, we hope lawmakers will focus more on public institutions.
But it’s disingenuous for anyone to vote or lobby against a bill that protects many kids by claiming it doesn't protect every kid.
Finally, Archbishop Gomez is as deceptive as his predecessor Cardinal Mahony. He urged his flock to lobby against this child safety bill but didn't tell them what it was about. Shame on him.
We hope California's Catholic bishops will reverse or end their selfish opposition to this measure. If they don’t, we hope they’ll at least ‘come clean’ with their flocks about what percentage of parishioner donations are being spent on high priced lobbyists and lawyers and public relations staffers working to protect bishops’ reputations instead of children’s safety.