NY--Victim of sex abuse honored
For Immediate release Friday, May 08, 2015
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP President and Founder;
Victim of sex abuse honored
He receives prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor
Philadelphia man exposed infamous priest perpetrator in Chile
Now a US citizen, he heads global communications for a Global Fortune 500
Juan Carlos Cruz, a Philadelphia man who recently became a US citizen, exposed Chilean priest perpetrator, Father Fernando Karadima and is now receiving a 2015 Ellis Island Medal of Honor on Saturday May 9.
This award is presented annually to American citizens who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life. Past Medalists include six U.S. Presidents, one foreign President, Nobel Prize winners and leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government. And, of course, everyday Americans who have made freedom, liberty and compassion a part of their life's work.
Mr. Cruz has gone above and beyond to help expose horrific crimes, to hold those that enable and shield predators accountable and to protect the most innocent and vulnerable members of our communities. He acknowledges he never does it alone but relies upon the courage and support of other survivors for his efforts. But we know he does so quietly and at great personal sacrifice.
The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations wisely chose Juan Carlos Cruz to receive this prestigious award for protecting children throughout Chile by demanding justice for the abuse he endured as a teen in Santiago, Chile, at the hands of the infamous perpetrator, Karadima. Mr. Cruz's actions have attracted global attention and saved thousands of children from enduring the same painful abuse he suffered as a child. He exposed his perpetrator and fought to have the man removed from ministry. The Vatican finally found the priest guilty in 2011.
Cruz and his childhood friends hid their pain and their dark secret for years. They became outstanding men with successful careers. The easiest thing for them would have been to let the past remain a secret but they chose to speak out to protect others. They spoke out to stop children from being abused. They spoke out to encourage other victims to come forward and begin to heal. Many individual victims, who have spent years and decades immobilized by fear and shame, have been encouraged by Cruz and his team to report the crimes they endured and begin processes of individual healing.
Cruz worked with other survivors to create a climate where thousands of citizens of Chile now demand transparency and accountability from church officials. Victims and supporters are united now to stop sexual violence of children and the vulnerable in the church and the greater society in Chile.
Cruz generously dedicates his Medal of Honor to all survivors of sexual violence. He claims that he could not have accomplished so much without the courage of the individuals who make up the community of survivors. As part of the larger survivor community, we in SNAP gratuitously accept the honor and the warm friendship, compassion and inspiration we receive from Juan Carlos Cruz. The world is better because of this amazing and courageous individual. We, in SNAP, are honored to work with Cruz. We hope others follow his example and expose corruption and demand justice and accountability. We congratulate him upon receiving this award and thank him for his exemplary work.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 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)