For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
All too often, the abuse of girls by clerics is overlooked or minimized. Fully half of our 12,000 members are women who were sexually violated by priests, nuns, bishops, brothers, seminarians and other Catholic employees.
Anecdotally, we’ve see that men who were molested as boys are more apt to report to police, file lawsuits and otherwise take action that leads to media attention. So many people assume that most clergy sex abuse victims are male.
And women in our society are often trained to deal with pain and trauma quietly, so are more apt to go to therapists rather than police or prosecutors to cope with their suffering.
So we applaud the brave young woman who is exposing Fr. Michael Keating. It’s tough for any victim of sexual violence to step forward. It’s especially difficult when the predator is a popular and charismatic religious figure.
We’re saddened but not surprised that Catholic officials reportedly were told of Fr. Keating’s alleged crimes seven years ago but still kept him in ministry. Consider these facts:
1) The number of US Catholics is rising.
2) Most priests are old.
3) Few are becoming seminarians.
4) Parishes are the backbone of the church.
5) Only priests can run parishes.
6) Roughly 7,000 US priests are accused child molesters, most of whom have been taken out of parishes over the last decade.
So simple demographics mean that now more than ever, bishops feel pressure to keep seminarians and priests – even sexually troubled ones – on the job (and to keep their sexual misdeeds and crimes hidden) so that parishes will stay open.
And remember – no US bishop has been defrocked, demoted, disciplined or even denounced by their peers or supervisors, no matter how egregious their repeated cover ups are.
So while the need to hang onto priests – even deviant ones – is greater than ever, it’s also clearer than ever that bishops who ignore or conceal their crimes won’t be punished.
That’s a recipe for disaster. That’s why these devastating crimes and irresponsible cover ups continue.
The solution involves several steps. But the most important one is speaking up, as this brave woman is doing, as Jennifer Haselberger has done, as thousands of victims and hundreds of whistleblowers have done over the years. And speaking up in a way that helps – to secular authorities, not church authorities.
So again we appeal to Twin Cities Catholics and citizens: If you saw, suspected or suffered any crimes or misdeeds, please search your conscience. Realize how hurtful your silence is – to yourself and to others. Find your voice. And speak up now so that decades of scandal will finally begin to end.