CA - SNAP Urges Cardinal Mahony to Cancel Mass Event with Police
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2004
For more information:
Mary Grant of Long Beach, SNAP Southwestern Regional Director (626) 419-2930 cell Manny Vega of Ventura, SNAP Leader (805) 207-9027 cell (bilingual/Spanish)
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790
Group Worries Special Mass Will Deter Reporting of Abuse
Mahony To Bless Police Officers’ Badges
SNAP Fears Fewer Victims Will Come Forward
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is asking Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony to cancel a special mass at the downtown Los Angeles Catholic Cathedral this Sunday at which police officers’ badges will be blessed. They fear the event will make it harder for abuse victims to report to criminal authorities.
Leader of SNAP, Survivor Network of those Abused by Priest, have written Mahony, saying that “In the interest of public safety we urge you to cancel this ceremony and begin to help keep the public safe with real actions, not words.”
“Tangible steps, not symbolic events, keep kids safe,” said Mary Grant of Long Beach, SNAP’s Southwestern Regional Director. “So Mahony should turn over all priests’ personnel files to prosecutors, and fully cooperate with criminal authorities to put dangerous predators behind bars where they can’t hurt children.”
SNAP believes that it is very hard for victims to disclose these crimes. Many felt or still feel they won't be believed or treated sensitively, and that victims sometimes believe that “well-connected Catholic officials have or will intervene with police, prosecutors or judges to protect our abusers and keep the crimes hidden.”
The full text of SNAP’s letter, sent today via fax and e mail, is below:
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
P.O. Box 20491
Long Beach, CA 90814
September 1, 2004
Cardinal Roger Mahony Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
Cardinal Roger Mahony:
We in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are troubled that you are will be holding a special mass to bless police officers badges on Sunday, September 5th. In the interest of public safety we urge you to cancel this ceremony and begin to help keep the public safe with real actions, not words.
It’s no secret that you refuse to come clean, turn over all priests’ personnel files to prosecutors, and cooperate with criminal authorities to put dangerous predators in your archdiocese behind bars.
It's also no secret that it's very hard for victims to disclose these crimes. Many of us felt or still feel that we won't be believed or treated sensitively, and that well-connected Catholic officials have or will intervene with police, prosecutors or judges to protect our abusers and keep the crimes hidden. (Rightly or wrongly, many survivors have these fears.)
In light of these truths, we are troubled by your plan to hold a special mass to bless the badges of police officers. We respectfully urge you to cancel this event. We urge you not to make it even more difficult for young people who experience abuse and Catholic adults who know of or suspect abuse to come forward to criminal authorities. (On the contrary, we of course desperately urge you to make it easier, not harder, to expose molesters and protect kids and vulnerable adults within the church.)
We believe that if you genuinely care about public safety, then you will stop shielding dangerous predators and alleged molesters from prosecution.
We are convinced this event, coupled with the “Red Mass” for the lawyers and judges, will make it more difficult for sexual abuse victims to overcome their fears of reporting clergy abuse crimes to criminal authorities.
Already, many victims feel intimated, hopeless and discouraged from reporting their abuse to local law enforcement. If they see police officers turn over their badges to be blessed by church officials, the same church officials who are needlessly keeping kids at risk, that reluctance to file police reports will only increase.
Your carefully-crafted words and well-planned rituals and promises don't keep kids safe. Victims and speaking up keep children safe. So, great care must be taken to ensure that victims are able to find strength and courage and hope, so they can report crimes.
Again, in the interest of public safety and those victims already wounded, we urge you to cancel this mass.
We look forward to your prompt response,
SNAP Southwestern Regional Director
SNAP Ventura County Leader