Sexual Abuse Victims Criticize National Clergy Abuse Panel
For immediate release:
Monday, July 22, 2002
New Commission Members To Be Announced Tomorrow
SNAP Won't Be On Body, Keating Says
A national support group for men and women molested by clergy is asking again for representation on a lay panel which will "oversee" American bishops' compliance with a new national sexual abuse policy. The support group - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) - is also criticizing the make up of the panel.
The panel, headed by Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, was announced last
month at the bishops' meeting in Dallas. The rest of the commission members
are expected to be announced tomorrow, SNAP was informed today by Governor
"We're still willing to serve, even though it is doubtful if this board can be truly independent," said SNAP board member Mark Serrano of Leesburg VA. "Apparently, every single member must get the approval of the bishops conference, must be a practicing Catholic, and cannot be affiliated with any other organization. Given this, it's hard to see this body as being unbiased."
Two SNAP members, Serrano and director David Clohessy of St. Louis, met with Keating briefly in Dallas in June. The governor said then that he wanted SNAP members on the commission. The organization sent Keating a letter over a month ago reiterating its willingness to serve, but got no reply.
Earlier this month, SNAP sent a similar letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory.
SNAP leaders are not optimistic, however, because Keating said on national television Friday night that their group would not be included. He made the surprise announcement on Phil Donahue's MSNBC program in a discussion with SNAP leaders Peter Isely of Milwaukee and Father John Bambrick of New Jersey."On TV, Governor Keating said that he didn't want anyone on that panel with an agenda," said Serrano. "In SNAP, we do have an agenda: to protect children from abusive priests and from church leaders who enable the molesters. We think that the Governor and this commission should join us to promote this agenda, and allow SNAP on the commission to represent thousands of abuse survivors who have had no voice before."