Rome- Pope moves backwards on abuse
For immediate release: Monday, May 19, 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)
In yet another sign that the Vatican is moving backwards on clergy sex crimes and cover ups, Pope Francis is setting up yet another church abuse panel – this one to help hear appeals of accused child molesting clerics.
Put quite simply: What matters most is the safety of boys and girls, not the bureaucracy for proven, admitted and credibly accused priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and bishops.
This is another indication that the Catholic hierarchy's main focus remains on accused priests, not on vulnerable kids or wounded adults.
Kids aren't raped by priests because Vatican officials move slowly. Kids are raped by priests because Vatican officials continue to be more worried about their colleagues' careers than their flocks' safety.
Rather than tweak biased and secretive internal church processes, Francis should be helping to reform secular child safety laws and firing bishops who violate them. Instead of changing an inherently self-serving procedure, the Pope should be making sure his staff fully cooperate with effective secular justice systems which have long done a far better job of resolving child sex abuse and cover up cases (instead of putting themselves above such justice systems, as Italy's bishops have recently done).
It matters little what church panels are set up and who's appointed to them, as long as top Catholic officials keep rebuffing and stiff-arming law enforcement and government officials across the globe, whether they're in Poland, Ireland or Geneva.
Catholic parishioners and employees look to their bishops for leadership. So as long as bishops keep sheltering accused predators (like Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski who's wanted by the law for molesting kids in the Dominican Republic) and sending predator priests abroad (like Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, who abused in Pennsylvania and is now the second-in-command of a diocese in Paraguay), nothing will change.
As long as Vatican officials ignore proven wrongdoers like St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt, Newark Archbishop John Myers and Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn, nothing will change.
For decades, church officials have given every advantage, consideration and benefit of the doubt to the accused and given the accusers little except skepticism and hostility. That remains mostly true today, even though bishops profess in public to be sympathetic towards victims. So improving the appeals process for predators will only endanger more kids, intimidate more victims, discourage more whistleblowers, and help child molesting clerics stay on the job longer.
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)