PA - SNAP To Pittsburgh Bishop: Victims Deserve Equal Time
For immediate release:
Friday, March 5, 2004
For more information:
David Clohessy 314 566 9790
Barbara Blaine 312 399 4747
CLERGY ABUSE SURVIVORS QUESTION DIOCESE'S LARGE EXPENDITURE TELEVISION COMMERCIAL ON PRIEST SEX SCANDAL
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an independent support group for clergy sexual abuse survivors, today sent a letter to Pittsburgh Roman Catholic Bishop Donald Wuerl urging him to provide SNAP free, full-page advertising space in the Diocesan newspaper, The Pittsburgh Catholic. The purpose of the ad is to inform clergy abuse survivors that they are not alone in their pain and that there is help and independent support available.
This request comes on the heels of Wuerl's purchase and production of a half-hour television commercial which aired last night at 7:30pm on KDKA TV2 (CBS). Wuerl, who hosted the commercial, discussed the clergy abuse crisis with a prominent church defense lawyer. SNAP calls the program "one-sided, shameless public relations" and criticized Wuerl for not including any victims on the show.
"Wuerl has proven he is capable of spending lots of money in the court of public opinion to discuss the clergy abuse crisis. As shepherd of the Pittsburgh flock, he sent a terrible message last night that clergy-abuse survivors are unworthy of being heard, and that everything in hunkey-dorey," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's national director, "Such one-sided 'spin-control' commercials run counter to the message and teaching of Jesus."
"Wuerl should have used the thousands spent on this commercial on preventing future abuse," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP's president. "If Wuerl sincerely wants to help abuse survivors, he will have no problem providing space in his paper to educate victims about our support group and the help we can provide."
A copy of SNAP's letter sent to Bishop Wuerl is below.
March 5, 2004
Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl
Diocese of Pittsburgh
111 Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Dear Bishop Wuerl:
We the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are deeply troubled that you would take the time, energy and effort to pay for and produce a half-hour television commercial on the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Many survivors have struggled for years to have their voices heard by church leaders but were ignored. Survivors asked for help from bishops but were refused. Survivors seeking justice and healing were met with strong-arm legal tactics. Yet, you spent thousands of parishioners' donated dollars for a one-sided prime-time, self-serving TV ad. The money would have been better spent, of course, on abuse prevention. This sends a terrible message to clergy abuse survivors. And, adding insult to injury, not a single survivor participated in the program.
Further, we at SNAP are concerned that the program will discourage and intimidate clergy abuse survivors who have yet to come forward. It is unacceptable for you to talk about this crisis and fail to mention that there is independent help and support for survivors.
As a matter of justice, and to help provide wounded men and women with independent support, we are therefore asking that you provide a free full-page advertising space for SNAP in upcoming editions of the Pittsburgh Catholic. It is crucial that survivors of clergy abuse in the Diocese of Pittsburgh know they are not alone and that there is confidential peer support available.
You have proven you are not afraid to spend thousands to influence the court of public. Now, please show that you care about abuse victims who remain trapped in silence, shame and self-blame. Help them find help.
It should be no problem to provide this free ad space to SNAP. Further, allowing equal time to clergy abuse survivors would go a long way in showing the Pittsburgh community your sincerity in trying to provide healing to clergy abuse survivors.
Finally, we urge you in the future to spend less time on "spin control" and more time working with survivors, mental health professionals and law enforcement officials to insure that child molestation at the hands of clergy happens less often.
We look forward to your prompt response.
Executive Director, SNAP
7234 Arsenal St.
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell
314 645 5915
PO Box 6416
Chicago, IL 60680-6416
312 399 4747 cell