National--Seeds of Hope website launched, victims' group voices concerns
For immediate release: Tuesday, January 13th
A website offering “Orthodox Christian healing and counseling” was launched earlier this month. According to the website, Seeds of Hope is a national, non-profit organization of licensed therapists who are also Orthodox. Also according to the site, these therapists will provide free, confidential counseling for Orthodox victims of clergy abuse.
However, members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, while they applaud a lay initiated response to the problem of clergy sexual abuse in the Orthodox churches, worry that survivors may be re-victimized by participating in the program.
“Free therapy is a powerful lure for clergy abuse survivors,” Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP explained. “Very few victims have either insurance coverage for therapy or the resources to pay out of pocket. Unfortunately, Seeds of Hope appears to focus only on the culprit and to ignore the complicity of the hierarchy in allowing Orthodox predators to remain unchecked.”
The Executive Director of SNAP, David Clohessy, continued. “Seeds of Hope appears to take a dim view of civil suits.”
“While there can certainly be downsides to this process, the truth is that litigation, particularly as the documentation uncovered in the process was made public, has been a tremendous tool in forcing Catholic bishops to change their behavior. It can do the same for the Orthodox.”
Cappy Larson, also of SNAP, added, “It’s all fine and dandy to talk about ‘forgiveness’ and ‘reconciliation,’ but if nothing is being done to address the cover-up, I’m afraid the people who go to this group for help are simply going to be hurt again.”