For immediate release: Wednesday, March 5, 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)
We are deeply disheartened by Pope Francis' remarks on the church's horrific, on-going sexual abuse scandal. His comments reflect an archaic, defensive mindset that will not make kids safer.
For a year, we've been saying that while Pope Francis is making progress on church finances and governance, he's done nothing – literally nothing – that protects a single child, exposes a single predator or prevents a single cover up. Now we know why.
It's because this pope - who talks of change in much of the church - is apparently satisfied with the status quo on clergy sex abuse and cover ups. (Months ago, he did, in fact, tell Vatican officials who deal with abuse cases to “keep doing what you're doing.”)
His central claim – that no one has “done more” on abuse than the Catholic church – is disingenuous.
No one has done more to clean up the Gulf of Mexico than British Petroleum. That's because BP caused the devastating damage itself. It's more than a little disingenuous
It would be far more accurate to say that no one has done more to deny, minimize and hide child sex crimes than the church.
In recent years, in some countries, Catholic officials have indeed been engaged in a flurry of abuse-related work. Sadly, it's been because they've been forced to do so. And sadly, it's been legal defense and public relations work primarily, not the real work of prevention, healing and justice. Under extraordinary pressure – from victims, parishioners, police, prosecutors, journalists – hundreds of bishops have been forced to adopt policies, procedures and protocols about abuse. But all this paperwork is largely meaningless, because no one enforces those policies and procedures. The fundamental and unhealthy clerical culture – that is obsessed with careerism, secrecy and self-protection – remains thoroughly intact in the Catholic hierarchy. And that's why clergy sex crimes and cover ups continue even now.
It is irrelevant and hurtful for Pope Francis to say that more abuse happens in homes. He's a very smart man. He knows the crux of this crisis is less about the heinous clergy sex crimes and more about the selfish, continuing cover up of those crimes by thousands of current and former Catholic officials. He can claim his underlings are “transparent.” But history proves otherwise.
It's a shame that he claims the church has been “attacked.” The truth is that corrupt church officials – not “the church” - has been exposed.
And a quick factual point: he has NOT created an abuse commission. Three months ago, one of his spokesmen said that the pope will do so. No action has yet been taken.
(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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, email@example.com