ME - Lay Catholics and Sex Abuse Victims Seek Names of Deceased Abusive Priests
For immediate release:
Thursday, Mar. 11, 2004
For more information:
Michael Sweatt of Portland, Voice of the Faithful - Maine 207-774-0227
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director 314-566-9790 cell
Two organizations concerned about the clergy sex abuse crisis have filed a court brief seeking to learn the names of sexually abusive Catholic priests who are now deceased.
The Maine chapter of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) have submitted an amicus brief in support of the Blethen Maine Newspapers' effort to see files about molestation claims against now deceased clerics. Opposing this effort is the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland. The case involves an appeal by the State of Maine of the decision of the Kennebec County Superior Court that ordered release of the records.
Both SNAP and VOTF-Maine believe that releasing the files of now-deceased priests will bring some justice, validation and healing for many victims/survivors of these priests.
"Too often survivors believe they are the only one; they must have done something wrong to have brought on sexual abuse," said Michael Sweatt of VOTF. " With the release of the names of the now deceased priests, survivors can see a public accounting of their abuser and have some sense of validation."
"The Bible says 'The truth will set you free,'" said SNAP national director David Clohessy of St. Louis. "Making the names of these priests public can't hurt them. It can only help their victims."
In the Amici Curiae filed on behalf of VOTF-Maine and SNAP, these organizations seek to modify the ruling to withhold the names of victims/survivors and witnesses.
Months ago, Cardinal William Keeler released files dating back to 1930, revealing the names of 41 diocesan and 42 religious order priest accused of child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Included were the names of 26 priests who had died. More recently, Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles released the names of 211 priests accused of sexual abuse. On the list are names of 64 clergy who are deceased.
Bishop Joseph J. Gerry, the current administrator of the Diocese of Portland has refused to release the names of clergy against whom there are credible allegations of sexual abuse.
Mahoney, in his recent report, stated, "We can say in hindsight that the cocoon of silence was harmful to some victims."
"Since Gerry refuses to remove the cocoon of silence here, VOTF-Maine feels called by the Gospels to file this brief on behalf of victims, survivors and family member of clergy sexual abuse in Maine," Sweatt said.
SNAP is the nation's largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It is based in Chicago and has 4,600 members in 56 chapters across the country.
Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is a worldwide movement of concerned mainstream Catholics formed in response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The group's mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. Its goals are to support victim/survivors of abuse, support priests of integrity, and shape structural change within the Catholic Church in full accordance and harmony with Church teaching. VOTF's supporting membership exceeds 30,000 registered persons from more than 41 U.S. states, 21 countries and 197 Parish Voice affiliates throughout the world.
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.