The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Sex Abuse Victims Head To Rome
SNAP Is Upset Boston's Cardinal Will Say Special Mass For Pope
US Cardinals Should Try To Stop "Rubbing Salt Into Deep Wounds," Group Says
Several leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a Chicago woman who is the group's founder, will head to Rome on Sunday, in part to protest Cardinal Bernard Law's prominent position in ceremonies surrounding the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
Barbara Blaine leaves town tomorrow afternoon, first to Milan, then to the Vatican. She plans to stay at least a week. Blaine and two other clergy sex abuse victims will also try to speak with Cardinals about factors they feel are important in choosing the next Pope.
Yesterday, SNAP sent letters to the American Cardinals who are now in Rome, expressing concern over Law's activities. On Monday, the disgraced ex-head of the Boston Archdiocese will lead a special mass in honor of the deceased Pope.
"This is hurtful decision, giving Law high profile honors during a time when thousands of Catholics are trying to focus on the Popeâ€s life and death, not on Law's horrific track record on child sexual abuse," said Dorris.
At a Los Angeles news conference yesterday, SNAP member delivered a letter to Cardinal Mahony's office, formally asking he and other church officials to intervene with Vatican bureaucrats and stop Law's involvement. A similar letter was sent by e mail or fax to the other ten American church leaders in Rome.
"It just rub salt into the already deep wounds of caring Catholics and suffering victims," said David Clohessy, SNAP national director.
The group believes that Lawâ€s prominence in Rome is bringing more pain to already suffering victims and more sadness to already embarrassed Catholics. The group wants the American Cardinals to "find the courage to break the code of silence in their church hierarchy, speak out on behalf of children raped in the church, and insist that Law be replaced."
SNAP is the nation's largest support group for people victimized by clergy.
A copy of SNAP's letter to the Cardinals is below:
April 8, 2005
Dear Cardinal Mahony:
Many times we've stood outside your cathedral, publicly urging you to help heal the hundreds of wounded men and women who are suffering because of abusive clergy of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
Today, we will stand outside your cathedral again, this time urging you to help heal the hundreds of wounded men and women who are suffering because of abusive clergy of the Boston Archdiocese, and indeed, the whole country.
We will also urge you to help heal the wounds of hundreds of thousands of Catholics who are frustrated and embarrassed by the insensitivity of church officials - both in Rome and in the US - and who deserve, at this historic moment, some escape from the "poster child" of complicit bishops, Cardinal Bernard Law.
Cardinal Mahony, you are the "dean" of the American Catholic cardinals, representing the largest archdiocese in America. In that role, and in your role as a shepherd, a pastor and a priest, we emphatically urge you to do what's right - and speak out against Cardinal Law's shameless self-aggrandizing.
It's been reported that Law is scheduled to say special mass for the Pope this Monday. And last Sunday, he gave an extensive interview to ABC news about the Pope, while steadfastly refusing to comment on the horrific church sex abuse crisis in which he played such a key role.
From our perspective, Law is exploiting this sad time for his own selfish rehabilitation attempt. Out of sensitivity and respect for those families who continue to suffer because of his cover ups, and in a spirit of genuine contrition, Law should avoid the public limelight.
Law should have the courtesy, decency, and humility to step aside voluntarily, out of deference to the well-being of clergy sex abuse victims, their loved ones, and the laity in the US.
If he genuinely wants to honor the Pope, he should avoid causing distractions to the solemn ceremonies and recluse himself from any other public role in the days and weeks again.
But the issue really isn't his behavior. It's the stunning and inexcusable silence by Law's brother prelates.
Vatican officials should prevail upon Law to stop rubbing salt into the already deep wounds of the American church and the hundreds of men and women whose faith has been stolen and whose pain is still crippling because of Law's abusive clerics. They should never have chosen him and they should now ask his to step aside.
Bishops and cardinals across the globe, especially in America, should also forcefully speak out now on behalf of the wounded, and insist that Law put the memory of
John Paul II and the needs of Catholics and clergy abuse victims above his own self-aggrandizement.
It's especially fitting and important that American bishops and cardinals show some spine and some principles now, and speak out.
And among all the American bishops and cardinals, you should lead the way. In 2002, you told the LA Times, when asked about the pressure on Cardinal Law to resign, â€I don't know how I could face people. I don't know how I could walk down the main aisle of the church myself comfortably, interiorly, if I had been [guilty] of grave neglect."
On Monday night, Law will again "walk down the aisle," this time in a more exalted setting, in Rome He will act as if thousands have been magically healed or that the sex abuse cover-up never happened.
Sadly, no church leader has tried to stop this or denounce this. It is time for you and your fellow American cardinals to step up to the plate, and find the courage (as so many brave victims have done) to confront wrongdoing. The code of silence with which church officials shelter even the most egregious among themselves must be broken.
This is about preventing more preventable pain, not about punishing a man who has already caused or helped cause hundreds of shattered lives. We seek these things out of compassion for the victims of rape and sodomy by clergy, not out of anger toward the hierarchy.
Cardinal Law is correct when he says this is the time to "focus" on Pope John Paul II. Thousands of caring Catholics and wounded victims, however, find it hard to keep that focus when Law is apparently using the Pope's passing to try and rehabilitate himself much like Richard Nixon did after Watergate.
You can try to stop this hurtful move. You can speak out against it, regardless of whether anyone eventually listens. We implore you to do both.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests