Philly citizens have a simple choice – vigilance or complacency. We hope they’ll choose vigilance.
They can assume that Chaput will be less reckless, callous and deceitful with clergy sex crimes and cover ups than Rigali. Or they can keep open minds and wait to see how Chaput actually handles cases.
And we should remember that the cover up of heinous child sex crimes in Philly isn’t the work of one man. For decades, a long-standing and unhealthy climate and culture of secrecy surrounding child abuse has built up in Philly. No one man can reverse that.
Rigali has set the expectations bar extraordinarily low. By smiling and giving a few media interviews, Chaput already seems more likeable. But a somewhat more likeable demeanor doesn’t protect kids.
More outgoing church officials hide child sex crimes as well or better than more reclusive ones. Kids are safer when Catholic authorities take decisive action, not when they work hard to come across as friendly.
(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 23 years and have more than 10,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
This morning I drove for 3 hours to be in Philly for a demonstration outside the Cathedral — holding a sign of a victim of clergy abuse — just to “remind people” that victims are still present, still suffering, and many still struggling with the realization that they were abused. As I stood in the drizzling rain for over two hours several priests walked past me repeatedly. Each time I would say, “Good afternoon, father!” NOT ONE OF THEM EVEN LOOKED AT ME NOR SPOKE TO ME. I guess even though I am a priest, and a victim of abuse, I am not worth recognizing. So much for the “brotherly love” of the clergy….
Will things change in Philly with Chaput a the helm. To tell the truth, I don’t place any hope in seeing any changes. I’d like to, but I just don’t see it happening.