SNAP Calls for “Decisive Action” from New D.C. Archbishop

SNAP Calls for “Decisive Action” from New D.C. Archbishop

Group Lays Out Three Immediate Steps He Can Take

“It’s time for change in Washington,” they say

WHAT: 

Leaders from the Washington, DC/Virginia chapter of the nation’s oldest and largest advocacy group for victims of clergy and institutional sex abuse, SNAP, will call on Archbishop Wilton Gregory to take decisive action to protect children and to reach out to survivors. They will also urge parishioners to stay vigilant and to continue to hold the church to their promises of transparency and accountability.

WHEN: 

Tuesday, May 21st at 12:30 pm

WHERE: 

On the sidewalk in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Ave NE, Washington, DC 20017

WHO: 

Several members of SNAP, including Becky Ianni, SNAP Board member, Bill Casey, member of VOTF, and several survivors and supporters.

WHY: 

As the new Archbishop is installed at the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., leaders of a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting survivors of clergy abuse are calling on Archbishop Wilton Gregory to “take advantage of the opportunity to bring more transparency and openness” to the archdiocese.

Leaders from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are laying out three priorities for Archbishop Gregory that they say will support survivors, prevent future cases of abuse, and signal to the public and parishioners that they can expect greater transparency and openness from Church officials.

The steps that SNAP are asking for include:

  1. Update the list of accused priests released to include not only priests, but also deacons, brothers, nuns and lay people that have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The posting also should include complete assignment histories with dates, when the accusers came forward, how many victims each accused perpetrator had and what steps Church officials took in response to the allegations and when those steps took place.
  2. Turn over all documents relating to cases of abuse to the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C. and to The Maryland Attorney General who are currently investigating cases of clergy abuse and cover-up in D.C.
  3. Agree to support legislation that reforms the statute of limitations or at the very least agree not argue or lobby against such reform. Maryland survivors and supporters plan to pursue SOL reform in the next legislative session and Archbishop Gregory can show that he is supportive of transparency and survivors by not working against this much-needed reform.

In previous positions, Archbishop Gregory has not been forthcoming with the public about facts related to clergy abuse. For example, in 2004 as then-Bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, he was held in contempt of court for refusing to release documents concerning a priest who was accused of sexually abusing a minor. Four years later, Bishop Gregory again found himself afoul of the law when he was accused of “fraudulent concealment” for the alleged cover-up for a priest who had abused at least five children.

Later, as Archbishop of Atlanta, Gregory refused to post a list of publicly accused priests despite repeated requests from survivors that he do so. Moreover, just last year, Archbishop Gregory lobbied against reform proposed by Georgia lawmakers that would benefit survivors and help prevent abuse.

Given the Archbishop’s history, SNAP is also calling on parishioners and the public within the Archdiocese of Washington to stay vigilant, be on the lookout for signs of wrongdoing, and to urge Archbishop Gregory to follow through on his 2002 promise to be “open and honest” in cases of clergy sex abuse.

“We are hopeful for change, but hope alone doesn’t protect the vulnerable,” said Becky Ianni, SNAP Virginia and D.C. Leader and Board Member. “We need parishioners and the public to join us as we push for needed reforms and work to change the culture that allows sexual abuse to continue.”

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member (snapvirginia@cox.net, 703-801-6044) Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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