The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Open Letter to Archbishop Pilarczyk
December 12, 2003
Most of us believed that if we disclosed to you and your staff the horrors we had lived through, you would do the right thing. We were wrong. So, after painful and frustrating interactions with you and your chancery staff, most of us turned to the courts for justice.
We took legal action so that we could regain some control over our lives. We took legal action so that we could sit down with you and other archdiocesan leaders and force real reform, reform that would protect kids from ever suffering the way we have. We took legal action so that we could force you and your fellow church leaders to disclose the secret documents about abuse and cover up you so desperately are fighting to keep out of the public eye. We took legal action so that we could force you and other chancery officials under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, about this terrible scandal. We took legal action so that we could force you and your representatives, in open court, in front of a jury, defend your decisions to time after time risk innocent children's safety. We took legal action so that we could have some appeal process if the initial outcome wasn't positive.
Now, all of these goals are threatened because of your penchant for power. You insist on remaining in control, now and in the future. You insist on dictating how, when, and to whom we who have been sexually victimized are to come forward. You decided that a lump sum amount was what's best. You decided that the figure should be $3 million. You decided the timeline. You decided who'll make the decisions. You decided that we must drop our efforts to seek justice in the time-tested, objective court system and instead trust an untested "tribunal" which will include at least one of your handpicked representatives.
All of this without one ounce of input from us. We are terribly disturbed. If you choose to offer any money to us, as a way of repairing even a slight portion of the serious, life-long harm that we and our families have suffered, that's fine. There is certainly room here for Christian charity. But charity is freely given. Charity comes without strings, especially strings that require the needy person to give up his or her civil rights.
But it feels like you are using money as a club over our heads. That's simply more victimization, heaped on top of the pain we suffered from your priests, and heaped on top of the pain we and our families suffered when we found the courage and strength to report our abuse to you, your predecessors and your staff.
It's our turn to insist. We insist that you either: a) stop using the legal technicalities like the statute of limitations to fight us in court, or b) stop forcing those of us who may need immediate medical or psychological help to give up our Constitutional right to seek justice in court.
Archbishop, this is not Soviet Russia. This is America. You are not a dictator. We have rights. You can't pretend to care about our welfare while at the same time fight tooth and nail in court against us and devise schemes to deprive us of our rights. If you insist on forcing these conditions down our throats, your actions will continue to be viewed as transparent public relations maneuvers. Your flock will see that your interest is not in helping us, as you allege, but rather helping yourself.
As children, we were powerless. As adults, we are no longer powerless. We intend to do everything we can to use our power to make sure that kids are safe in the future.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests