A prominent activist group in the Roman Catholic Church's clergy-abuse crisis is fighting a Missouri judge's ruling to open more than two decades of correspondence with victims, lawyers, witnesses and journalists thought to be confidential.
Lawyers for a Kansas City priest accused of abuse said the documentation will shed light on whether the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, commonly known as SNAP, has coached victims to fabricate claims of repressed memory. Lawyers for the St. Louis Archdiocese are pursuing the same strategy in a separate case.
But Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle's ruling last month that SNAP must provide access to the documents has sent a chill through the community of sexual-abuse survivors who have leaned on SNAP for confidential support and protection they never thought they would get from the church, the group's officers and members said.
"Rather than taking a look at themselves and reflecting on what the priests have done, the church has decided SNAP is an enemy to be crushed," said Barbara Meyer, 66, of Chicago, who said she turned to SNAP when the Chicago Archdiocese ignored her allegations of priest abuse. "They've dest...