MN- Clergy sexual abuse and cover-up case settles, SNAP responds
For immediate release: Monday, October 13, 2014
This settlement and these promises are happening for two reasons: because caring victims take legal action and complicit officials fear trials. Let's never forget these two simple facts. So we desperately hope that no matter how this agreement plays out, we hope that men, women and kids who have been sexually violated by Minnesota priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and other Catholic officials keep filing police reports and civil lawsuits.
What may happen in the future is unclear. What's happening now and what's happened in the past, however, is crystal clear: Catholic officials don't ever pledge reform - must less carry it out - unless they're under tremendous external pressure. That hasn't changed and likely won't. That pressure must come from brave victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, journalists and our justice system.
We in SNAP support any moves toward reducing the nearly limitless power that bishops exercise over so-called church "investigations" into clergy sex crimes and therefore welcome today’s announcement. But we have also heard time and time again, Catholic officials claim that their processes and their new staff are "independent" when in truth, they almost never really are.
So we join with Al Michaud in urging continued vigilance and healthy skepticism. Thousands of clergy sex crimes and cover ups have happened, and keep happening in Minnesota. The reason is not inadequate staff or protocols. So more or different staff or protocols isn't really the answer. Rather, it's a strong and independent system of 'checks and balances' - involving all of us - on the inherent secrecy of a self-serving, all male monarchy that answers to virtually no one. While hoping these new systems will protect children, we urge anyone who saw, suspects or experienced inappropriate sexual actions or cover ups to call law enforcement promptly.
(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 25 years and have more than 20,000 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)
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.