Greensburg PA--Victims blast Catholic officials & prod prosecutors
Victims blast Greensburg Diocese Catholic officials
They want "aggressive outreach" to "thousands in pain"
And they insist police, prosecutors and lawmakers do more
SNAP: Bishop must disclose & punish "enablers" who "ignored or hid" abuse
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk conference, clergy sex abuse survivors and advocates will call on
--Police throughout the diocese to make "repeated and aggressive public appeals" begging victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call law enforcement with suspicions or knowledge of abuse or cover ups.
--Prosecutors to be "more assertive and creative in finding novel ways to pursue those who commit or conceal child sex crimes.
And they'll prod top Greensburg Diocese Catholic officials to
-- publicly expose and "defrock, demote, discipline or denounce" current and former church staffers who helped hide abuse, and
-- put copies of the new grand jury report in back of churches in his diocese and urge every parishioner to read it.
WHEN: Monday, August 20th
WHERE: Greensburg diocese headquarters, 723 E Pittsburgh St, in Greensburg, PA
Two-three members of a support group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)
A new grand jury report named over seventy proven, admitted, and credibly accused perpetrator priests in the Greensburg diocese. (Previously, less than ten such individuals had been publicly identified.) And grand jurors have estimated that thousands of Pennsylvania victims have yet to come forward.
Attorney General Stated that there are over a thousand victims.
SNAP is concerned about those who are at risk now, because of still-living predators who may be living or working near kids. Since virtually few clerics who enabled, hid or transferred predators have been exposed - and even fewer punished - SNAP worries that this "callous and reckless pattern" will continue or be repeated.
We acknowledge the pain this report has caused to victims, not only Catholic but those abused elsewhere as well. If they need help, reach out to therapists for professional guidance and groups like ours for peer support. There are people who will believe them and support them. The investigation in not complete, call the AG hotline 888-538-8541.
So, we want Greensburg officials to disclose who these "enablers" are and "defrock, discipline, demote or denounce" them. SNAP maintains that this will deter future cover ups, inside and outside the church, help restore parishioners' trust and help victims heal better.
Encourage all the living PA bishops who covered up abuse to do the honorable thing and follow the example of the bishops in Chile and submit their resignations; the Pope should accept the resignations. Resignations are not enough, enabling hierarchy who covered up must be demoted and disciplined. Prohibit awarding positions of honor to those complicit.
The organization is also convinced that local political and law enforcement leaders, using their bully pulpits, should do more to bring forward victims still trapped in "silence, shame and secrecy." SNAP members are convinced, based on years of experience, that appeals by police and prosecutors will "have a real impact and promote public safety, deterrence and healing."
Over three decades, SNAP has seen prosecutors and civil attorneys find and use innovative ways to come up with new and creative ways to hold past enablers accountable under the civil law. Urge them to change laws so that cover ups are less likely in the future.
Finally, SNAP will also again urge lawmakers to pass a civil window that would deter future cover-ups and protect kids now by enabling abuse victims to expose those who commit or conceal child sex crimes in court. Four states (MN, HI, DE and CA) have taken this important safety step, SNAP says.
Covering six dioceses, the grand jury report included "stunning revelations: a priest molested a 7-year-old girl during a visit to a hospital where she had her tonsils removed; priests shared naked photos of abuse victims; a priest arranged an abortion after impregnating a girl he had raped; a priest got a reference letter for a Disney World job after years of complaints about his abusive acts."
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
SNAP Support Group Meeting for Survivors, Victims and their Supporters
Monday, August 20th
6-pm to 8-pm
Meeting at Carnegie Library-Southside Branch, Pittsburgh
2205 East Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA
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.