NY - Victims' group to be honored today
Facing Legal Harassment by Catholic Church Officials, SNAP, the Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests, To Be Honored by Several NYC Catholic Lay and Children’s Rights Organizations
When: Thursday, April 11, 6:00 to 7:15 pm fundraising reception, 7:30 to 9:30 pm speakers panel
Where: Church of the Holy Apostles, 296 9th Avenue at 28th Street.
New York Catholics have come together to support and honor the main support group for survivors of sexual abuse by religious authorities within the Catholic Church. The group, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has faced legal harassment to pressure it to release confidential files of victims. The legal defense costs have depleted SNAP’s financial resources and created a crisis of confidence.
Honoring the work of SNAP at an April 11thfundraiser and forum are three Catholic lay organizations: Call To Action (CTA) – Metro NY, Voice of the Faithful NY, and Dignity/NY. They will be joined by children’s advocacy groups and individuals, including Assemblywoman Marge Markey, who recently introduced the New York Child Victims Act (CVA). The groups holding the event support the CVA and will campaign for its passage despite the hierarchy’s objections to it..
“Children’s safety comes first, and probably is first priority for all New York Catholics. It should be first for the Church hierarchy as well,” said Art McGrath, President of the CTA New York chapter. “The way to better ensure their safety going forward is to prosecute those responsible for criminal behavior and cover up. Hiding behind positions of status, especially religious status, should not be allowed…. not in the Catholic Church and not in other institutions – religious or secular, public or private.”
Catholics in the pews continue to stand with survivors of sexual abuse. A new poll shows U.S. Catholics want Pope Francis to address sex abuse as his top priority. Catholics in New York agree that sex abuse should be a priority for the new Pope and their religious leaders here in New York State.
Since its inception in 1988, SNAP has carried out their work on behalf of victims of sexual abuse in a climate of hostility towards its efforts to bring the issue into public view, to hold the church more accountable, and to ask for transparency in the cover up of cases of criminal behavior. SNAP has recently faced legal harassment from two dioceses in Missouri that want to force SNAP to release confidential survivors’ files, resulting in expensive court costs for SNAP.
CTA – Metro NY is holding the event to fundraise for SNAP, but also to present them with their “Beatitudes Award” for their role “in bringing light to those held down by the weight of their abuse by church authorities,” said Mr. McGrath. SNAP has been an important source of support for victims who were abused as children and a valuable resource for their recovery process.
Barbara Blaine, founder and president of SNAP who will receive the award on behalf of the organization, says, “Like others who care about a safer church and society, I am very grateful for all the support CTA provides for abuse victims. It's an honor to know and work with such compassionate Catholics as those in this wonderful organization.” Local SNAP representative Mary Caplan, also a CTA member notes that this is the first time a Catholic group has held an event in NYC to support the work of SNAP.
Bishop Gumbleton of the Diocese of Detroit, the keynote speaker of the evening, will speak about his own experience in coming to terms with sexual abuse in the church. A victim of abuse himself, Bishop Gumbleton has stood fast with the survivor community, lobbying to end of statutes of limitations in cases of sexual abuse of children, and identifying strongly with other victims as well as offering spiritual support. He will speak of the need for the church to face its wrongdoing in shielding abusers and call for transparency, accountability and humility so that the church can move forward.
Alex Gibney, filmmaker and director of the HBO film, “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” dealing with a specific case of sexual abuse of deaf children by a priest will speak about inaction within the hierarchy of the church regarding this case, the pattern of cover-up and the trail of responsibility and the courage of the deaf adults to finally come forward. As the documents released from the diocese of Los Angeles show, years of cover-up of cases of pedophilia have only exacerbated the problem.
Asking the audience to be active in the prevention of future abuse in all institutions will be Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, sponsor of the recently introduced NY Child Victims Act, A1771, which for the past few years has passed the Assembly and not the Senate. The bill would eliminate the statutes of limitations for sexual abuse of children and would open a window of one year for victims of such abuse in the past to come forward. Many victims struggle for years to come to terms with their abuse, some repressing the memories of it for decades.
For more information on the event, visit www.cta-metro-ny.org. Some speakers will be available for interviews prior to the event and the following day.