For immediate release: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
The most important documents in years about the Catholic abuse and cover up crisis have just been disclosed and they are chilling. They reveal how clergy sex crimes have been dealt with in Argentina when Pope Francis was a high ranking – sometimes the highest ranking – Catholic official there.
Compiled and posted by BishopAccountability.org, these records leave us feeling deeply saddened. We believe they will leave Catholics deeply saddened too. The depressing findings don't shock us. But they leave us saddened nonetheless.
The newly disclosed records show that on the church's most devastating crisis, Pope Francis is just like the overwhelming majority of his complicit colleagues. That's painful to say, but crucial to understand and accept, if kids are to be safer in this global monarchy which Francis heads.
Many were shocked days ago when Pope Francis said callous, defensive and unhealthy comments about the crisis. Some have opined that his remarks were some kind of aberration. They're not. And this new information helps to explain why they're not.
In short, the records show that in Argentina – as in Belgium, Australia, India, Ireland, Honduras, Poland, and virtually every country where clergy sex crimes have surfaced, the hierarchy – even Pope Francis - behaves in virtually the same horrific way.
It's nearly identical conduct across the globe—priests molest kids, bishops are told, they either do nothing or move the predators, legal action is rare, and bishops ignore victims, blame others, mount public relations campaigns and use every possible delay and legal trick to continue hiding the truth and protecting the wrongdoers while the top Catholic official—like Bergoglio - keep their hands clean so their clerical career advances and lower level clerics do the concealing and the “cleaning up” (or play “bad cop” to the bishop's “good cop”).
Bishop Accountability finds that “In the high-profile cases of four child molesters from religious orders or other dioceses – Grassi, Pardo, Picciochi, and Sasso – there is evidence that Bergoglio knowingly or unwittingly slowed victims in their fight to expose and prosecute their assailants. Victims of all four offenders say that they sought the cardinal's help. None of them received it.”
Bishop Accountability is scrupulous in its research and understated in its analysis. The organization has a well-deserved reputation for integrity and accuracy. So we suspect the real story of abuse and cover up in Argentina is twenty or thirty times worse than is portrayed in this new documentation. And that breaks our hearts.
It's especially disheartening because the Pope has repeatedly expressed compassion for those “on the margins” and concern for those who have been hurt. Yet when it comes to men, women and kids who have been sexually violated by clerics, it is the Pope himself who has caused – and is causing – the hurt.
(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)