ITALY- SNAP 20 child safety steps for the new pope’s first “100 days”
Here are 20 simple steps the next pope could and should promptly take with little effort or real controversy. Based on our 25 years of dealing with this crisis, we are convinced these moves will make children much safer by exposing and deterring wrongdoing in child sex cases by church staff.
---Ordering bishops to set up and finance a “whistleblower fund” to reward church staff whose actions lead to criminal charges or conviction of current or former abusive clerics.
---Removing child sex abuse from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s jurisdiction so that all church officials will clearly see that clergy sex abuse and cover up is a crime, not a sin, and a matter of discipline not of doctrine.
---- Insisting that priests immediately give their passports to their bishops when abuse accusations arise (so they can’t flee overseas).
----Demanding that bishops hire independent corrections staff to house and monitor child molesting clerics (who cannot be criminally charged) in remote, secure facilities so they will be kept away from children.
----Instructing bishops to use only licensed therapists (not priests or nuns) to deal with abuse victims.
----Instructing bishops to use only former police (not clerics) to investigate abuse cases that cannot be pursued by law enforcement.
----Convening and funding a world-wide conference of secular lawmakers who are working to reform archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly secular laws (like the statute of limitations) that prevent victims from exposing those who commit and conceal sex offenses through civil and criminal courts.
---Making an urgent, strong public plea to all church employees and members, begging them to give information and suspicions about fugitive predator priests to civil authorities so the clerics may be prosecuted and kept away from children.
----Instructing bishops to avoid using language that minimizes clergy abuse (“it’s just a small percentage of priests”), deflects blame (“abuse happens in other settings too”), faults accusers (“these allegations are from 25 years ago”), mollifies church-goers (“he’s not accused of molesting at this parish”), praises accused wrongdoers (“he’s a very popular priest”), or guilt-trips victims (“he has tirelessly worked to help the poor”).
----Removing Fr. Robert Oliver, the recently appointed Vatican abuse prosecutor, who has led Boston church officials in quietly “backsliding” on abuse measures over the past decade.
----Openly soliciting nominations for the prosecutor’s post and choosing a new one only after consulting with victims, advocates and lay people.
----Demoting and denouncing Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City Missouri, the only sitting bishop who has been criminally convicted of failing to report suspected child sex crimes (by keeping hundreds of explicit and sexually suggestive photos of young girls taken by Fr. Shawn Ratigan).
----Discouraging current and future cover ups by clearly, publicly and severely disciplining prelates (like Cardinal Roger Mahony and others) who are concealing or have concealed child sex crimes.
--Ordering bishops to post names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics (including religious order priests) on diocesan and parish websites. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AtAGlance/lists.htm
--Turning over Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) records about predatory priests to local law enforcement in the nations where the alleged crimes took place.
--Insisting that the head of each diocese and religious order do likewise with their abuse records.
---Ordering bishops to provide two types of diocese-wide training: for kids and adults on preventing crimes and for adults (parishioners and employees) on reporting crimes
---Mandating church-based sessions teach parishioners how to respond appropriately in abuse cases so victims, witnesses and whistleblowers won’t feel intimidated or hopeless (See SNAP brochure “What to do when your priest is accused of abuse,” http://www.snapnetwork.org/what_to_do_when_your_priest_is_accused_of_abuse
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.
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.