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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release

For immediate release: Saturday, June 5, 2010

For more information: David Clohessy (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414 429 7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Joelle Casteix (949 322 7434, jcasteix@gmail.com)

Three US clergy sex abuse victims head to Europe

They’ll be in Rome during next week’s “Year of the Priest” gala

Chicago-based group sends trio from California Wisconsin, Missouri

Pope Benedict is expected to apologize for actions of predator priests

But SNAP says “actions, not words, protect kids” and “apologies are meaningless”

Responding to pleas, US victims will spend a week starting self-help groups in several countries

Three US clergy sex abuse victims – from California, Wisconsin and Missouri- are heading to Europe soon to help start support groups for others who were molested by religious figures. The trio is also expected to harshly criticize Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials for what they consider to be the “all talk, no action” response of Catholic officials to the church’s on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis.

Joelle Casteix of Orange County CA, Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, MO and Peter Isely of Milwaukee WI, will travel to Europe on Sunday and Monday for a nine day trip through several countries. It will begin in Rome the day before a widely-promoted rally capping what the Pope has deemed “The Year of the Priest.” Thousands of priests across the world are expected to attend.

Many Vatican observers have also indicated that the pontiff will apologize again for the misdeeds of pedophile priests. SNAP has repeatedly urged Pope Benedict to take decisive action to “protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded,” rather than “mouthing vague pieties and apologies and promises that in effect do nothing to really safeguard children right now or deter future recklessness, callousness and deceit,” according to Barbara Blaine, SNAP’s founder and president. (312 399 4747, snapblaine@gmail.com)

Dorris worries about the impact of the “Year of the Priest” celebration on clergy sex abuse victims across the world.

“This kind of ‘glorifying the clerics’ event is usually very hurtful to survivors,” said Dorris. “Such rallies tend to reinforce the message that most Catholics have gotten since birth – that somehow clerics are on a special level, above the rest of us, and automatically deserve deference and obedience. That attitude, frankly, is one reason why it’s still possible to ignore or conceal clergy sex crimes.”

The three US victims plan to travel to Rome, Germany, England, Austria, and possibly one or two other countries.

“We want to reach out to anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex abuse and cover ups, and urge them to come forward, get help, call police, protect others and start healing,” said Casteix. “We know that when victims and witnesses stay silent, kids keep getting assaulted. So we’ll offer support and guidance and encouragement to those who are suffering in silence, shame and self-blame, and gently prod them to take steps that will help them get better and help others be safer.”

Isely is the group’s Midwest Director and Casteix is its Western Regional Director. They are both volunteers; Dorris, SNAP’s Outreach Director, is one of the organization’s four staff members.

Isely and Casteix leave on Sunday, Dorris leaves Monday morning.

Four SNAP members, including Dorris and Isely, made a similar trip to Europe in March. As a result, SNAP chapters have been set up in Austria, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Based in Chicago, SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has been around for 22 years and has more than 9,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in its title, SNAP has members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Its website is SNAPnetwork.org


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
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