The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
March 5, 2004
Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl
Dear Bishop Wuerl:
We the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) are deeply troubled that you would take the time, energy and effort to pay for and produce a half-hour television commercial on the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Many survivors have struggled for years to have their voices heard by church leaders but were ignored. Survivors asked for help from bishops but were refused. Survivors seeking justice and healing were met with strong-arm legal tactics. Yet, you spent thousands of parishioners' donated dollars for a one-sided prime-time, self-serving TV ad. The money would have been better spent, of course, on abuse prevention. This sends a terrible message to clergy abuse survivors. And, adding insult to injury, not a single survivor participated in the program.
Further, we at SNAP are concerned that the program will discourage and intimidate clergy abuse survivors who have yet to come forward. It is unacceptable for you to talk about this crisis and fail to mention that there is independent help and support for survivors.
As a matter of justice, and to help provide wounded men and women with independent support, we are therefore asking that you provide a free full-page advertising space for SNAP in upcoming editions of the Pittsburgh Catholic. It is crucial that survivors of clergy abuse in the Diocese of Pittsburgh know they are not alone and that there is confidential peer support available.
You have proven you are not afraid to spend thousands to influence the court of public. Now, please show that you care about abuse victims who remain trapped in silence, shame and self-blame. Help them find help.
It should be no problem to provide this free ad space to SNAP. Further, allowing equal time to clergy abuse survivors would go a long way in showing the Pittsburgh community your sincerity in trying to provide healing to clergy abuse survivors.
Finally, we urge you in the future to spend less time on "spin control" and more time working with survivors, mental health professionals and law enforcement officials to insure that child molestation at the hands of clergy happens less often.
We look forward to your prompt response.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests