SNAP Praises Two Outspoken Bishops
For immediate release: November 14, 2002
For more information, contact:
Peter Isely 414 429 7259 cell
Mark Serrano 703 727 4940 cell, 703 771 9606
David Clohessy 314 556 9790 cell, 314 645 5915
Barbara Blaine 312 399 4747 cell
"Unprecedented & Brave " Public Comments Bode Well, Group Says
A national support group for men and women sexually abused by clerics praised two Catholic bishops for speaking up this week on the issue.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (survivorsnetwork.org), praised Dallas Bishop Joseph Gallante and Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss for "publicly siding with those who are hurting and vulnerable."
In an interview with a Texdas newspaper, Gallante expressed frustration with Bishop Charles Grahmann for failing to remove a pastor accused of sexual misconduct with an adult man in 1991. The accusation surfaced in May of this year. (see Dallas Morning News (11/11/02, http://www.dallasnews.com/religion/stories/111102dnproalvarez.c4c7b.html)
Gallante also said he has yet to receive a full briefing about the case and has spent weeks prodding Grahmann to act.
Curtiss, on the floor of the annual bishops conference meeting in Washington DC, recommended that the body "censure bishops who had transferred priests accused of sexual abuse of miniors from parish to parish." His amendment failed, but encouraged SNAP members nevertheless. (see New York Times, 11/1/4/02)
His remarks came during a discussion on Wednesday of "episcopal oversight" or bishops' accountability, just one day after SNAP had urged American bishops to "break their silence, not about sexual abuse, but about each other" and hold each other accountable.
The topic is being addressed by an ad hoc committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops headed by San Diego Bishop Robert Brom. In their meeting last June in Dallas, bishops acknowledged that no penalties exist for their colleagues who transfer abusers or concealed their crimes. They pledged to consider such reforms this fall.
"We are very gratified by the courage of these two church leaders," said SNAP spokesman David Clohessy of St. Louis. "We in the Survivors Network believe it will help reassure Catholics and help heal victims as more bishops denounce wrongdoing by their brother bishops. Many Catholics, we feel, want to see others in the church hierarchy follow Curtiss' and Gallante's lead."
On Tuesday, SNAP cited some bishops who "have begun to break ranks with their colleagues, and take tangible steps toward healing and prevention."
- Bishop Frank Rodimer of Paterson NJ, who held the first open listening session with survivors.
- Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, who held two "listening sessions," for abuse victims, their families and parishioners, which were planned with SNAP members and community leaders, including the district attorney.
- Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, who has listed abusive priests on his diocesan web site.
- Bishop Mulvee of Providence, and his staff, who listened to several dozen survivors one-on-one, face-to-face during settlement talks.
- Bishop Gregory of Belleville, who provided one of the most detailed accounting of costs associated with the sexual abuse scandal in his diocese.
- Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Archbishop Justin Rigali of St. Louis, who have expressed a willingness to help us lobby for extensions to the statutes of limitations.
- Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, who disciplined two priests who hid the whereabouts of an abuser who were being sought by the police.
SNAP is an independent, nationwide, Chicago-based, 12 year old, 4300 member support group for women and men victimized by clergy.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.