The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
July 6, 2003
Mary Grant, Long Beach (626) 419-2930
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Corona Del Mar, CA. She is a survivor who was abused in Orange, California. She recently served on the Diocese of Orange Review Board.
"Thank you very much for joining us here this afternoon. We are standing at a very important time in the history of the American Catholic Church, and we ask Catholic Bishops to come forward and assist us in making sure that children are safer in the Catholic Church and the state of California.
It is time for change.
For years, behind the scenes, many church officials have effectively fought against efforts to expand the statute of limitations for molesters who prey on our most vulnerable children.
Inevitably, church lobbyists have made it harder to expose and remove and imprison dangerous sex offenders.
That, of course, is not their right, but it was their choice.
For years, behind the scenes, many church leaders have also chosen to hide abusers, reassign abusers, excuse abusers, and forgive abusers.
But the abused children remained shunned and shrouded in shame, guilt and fear.
Unfortunately, this is dangerous and against the law. California requires the mandatory reporting of even the slightest suspicion of child abuse to law authorities, no matter how long ago the suspected abuse took place. Every California priest who works with children is bound by this law. Cardinal Mahony, as a licensed clinical social worker in the state of California, is familiar with and bound by this law as well. And he and knows that it does not fall under first amendment privilege.
So for years, behind the scenes, many church leaders have denied the truth, concealed the truth, and shaded the truth. And disregarded the law
This was their choice. Yet choices bring consequences. And bad choices bring bad consequences. All of us here are living proof.
Today, we're offering California church leaders one more choice.
It's a chance:
Ø To do right,
Ø To comfort their flock,
Ø To redeem some of the moral authority they have squandered by their bad choices,
Ø And to begin to undo just a scintilla of the harm their bad choices have wreaked on so many of us and our families.
But more than that, it's a chance to become part of the solution,
not part of the problem.
Today, we're offering a new proposal for an independent reward fund to prompt Catholics and non-Catholics to report suspected abuse and abusers to police and prosecutors, especially those who have fled the state or the country. The heinous and disgusting crimes of these abusers have hurt too many. And they have been covered up for too long.
We call it The Breaking the Silence Fund. Funds will be used to provide awards for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of abusive clerics and ex-clerics (priests, brothers, nuns, bishops) and/or employees of catholic institutions (lay teachers, staff, etc.)
And we with hope pledge that this fund will be established quickly and operated independently. If California's Catholic bishops ask every Catholic in the state to donate, we in SNAP will likewise ask all our members to donate as well.
Now, more than ever, we can no longer exist in danger, shame and silence, and we ask California bishops to make a first step towards healing children and the church.
Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests