NY- Victims blast Catholic bishops lobbying effort
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Statement by Mary Caplan of New York City, SNAP Leader, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (917 439 4187, firstname.lastname@example.org)
New York's Catholic bishops – including Cardinal Tim Dolan - are trying to get more tax breaks through a proposed bill about schools. Lawmakers should think long and hard before agreeing to this.
When they want money for their institutions, Catholic officials lobby hard and say they care deeply about kids. But when kids who were abused want a chance for justice, Catholic officials lobby hard to deny those kids their day in court. All across the US, Dolan and his brother bishops use all their political will and power and resources to block moves to reform archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitation laws that endanger kids and protect those who commit and conceal heinous child sex crimes.
For at least three reasons, public schools are inherently safer than private schools. There is more openness and more accountability in public schools than private schools. And there's less incentive to ignore or conceal child sex crimes in public schools than private schools.
First, law enforcement and fiscal authorities can more readily and easily audit and investigate public schools than private schools.
Second, citizens and journalists can better gain access to records in public schools than private schools.
Third, public school parents can attend and speak at regular, public school board meetings. They can oust board members, back other candidates, and run for those positions themselves.
These "checks and balances" aren't perfect. Kids do, of course, get molested in public schools, far more than anyone would like to admit. And child sex crimes are sometimes covered up in public schools. But in our experience, there are far fewer cover ups of crimes against kids in public schools than private ones.
We are grateful when people are generous, especially to institutions that help kids. But such generosity is better targeted to institutions that are less apt to conceal crimes against kids.
Catholic parishioners who worry about shrinking Catholic schools should insist that their bishops take real measures, not symbolic ones, to end the long-standing and dangerous church culture of recklessness and deceit in child sex abuse cases. That will no doubt help stem declining enrollment in parochial schools.
Dolan is quoted in the New York Times as saying that “Anything we can do ... to help our kids, we want to do it as vigorously as possible.” That's not quite true. He supports “anything” to “help” as long as it doesn't help expose Catholic priests, nuns, seminarian, brothers and bishops who commit or conceal child sex crimes or help deter them from committing those crimes.
(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 15,000 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.