Rome- Italian clergy abuse victims release video; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Monday, May 12, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
We are deeply impressed by the courage and moved by the pain of the dozens of Italian clergy sex abuse victims who are part of a just-released YouTube video message to Pope Francis. For the safety of the vulnerable and the healing of the suffering, we endorse their call to Vatican officials to release long-secret church records about clerics who commit and conceal heinous sexual violence against children.
It's hard for a victim of sexual violence to speak about their suffering. It's often harder when the perpetrator is a powerful church official. And it's often harder still to do so publicly, revealing one's name and face. So we applaud these wounded, but obviously caring individuals for having the strength.
We hope their video prompts many others – Catholics and non-Catholics – to offer these gutsy, pained individuals the sympathy and love they so richly deserve. They clearly have been hurt, are still hurt, and should be treated with extraordinary kindness and gratitude for their work in exposing – and hopefully preventing - these dreadful crimes. We also hope their video prods others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sexual violence and cover ups to speak up, get help, expose wrongdoers, and protect kids. Silence endangers kids and helps predators. Stepping forward helps kids and exposes those who commit and conceal heinous child sex crimes.
At the same time, however, we urge these brave men and women to stay focused on healing and prevention without expecting or waiting for any positive response from Catholic officials. In our 25 years of experience, we've learned that we do, in fact, have the capacity to recover from the trauma we suffered as innocent children and vulnerable adults at the hands of Catholic clerics. And we can recover from the added trauma we suffered as brave adults when we sought help from church officials. It helps when church officials don't ignore or re-victimize us. But often, that's precisely what they do. Still, we can get better without them and that's what we hope these courageous Italian survivors are doing.
(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)