The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statements
January 5, 2004
Statement by Barbara A Blaine, of Chicago
We believe, however, that these so-called audits are fundamentally flawed. They are a small step forward. But they are already being mischaracterized and oversold by self-congratulatory bishops.
Essentially, bishops have defined the rules of the game, decided who plays, paid the umpires, and are now declaring themselves the winners.
They defined the rules, by writing up the Dallas charter themselves,
a very weak and vague document.
There are many questions about this whole process. The answers, we feel, are disturbing. For example,
Is this really an audit?
How did the process work?
How high was the bar set?
Let's be clear, some progress has been made. Much of that progress is outside of and independent of the church hierarchy. More victims are coming forward, telling their families, getting into therapy, contacting the police. More parents are being more careful with their children, and more supportive when victimized children disclose their abuse. More police, prosecutor, judges and juries are viewing church leaders with a healthy skepticism. And more lawmakers are considering changes in civil and criminal laws to make exposing and prosecuting molesters easier.
While the rest of society is doing much better at preventing and dealing with clergy sex abuse, by and large, bishops are still making belated and begrudging and "bare minimum" progress.
Still, these reports are helpful.
We're sure that this interview process has been positive overall.
We're also sure that some will become too complacent. We fear that some bishops will relax their efforts, having now been deemed "compliant" by a couple of retired bureaucrats. If that happens, we hope that vigilant Catholics will speak out against such backsliding.
Complacency never keeps children safe. Only continued vigilance protects kids. And that's what Catholic children need and Catholic parents deserve - now more than ever.
Next month, another report will be issued. It will focus on the number of victims and abusers. It too, unfortunately, will basically be self-reporting by many of the same bishops who, for decades, have covered up these horrific crimes.
It's terribly naïve to believe that these same bishops will totally reverse course, and voluntarily disclose these shameful secrets, just because a retired bureaucrat with a clip board walks in their door.
But it's not too late to improve this upcoming report. We urge church leaders to act now to aggressively solicit input from the entire Catholic and law enforcement community. Church leaders should put announcements in all church bulletins, diocesan web sites and diocesan newspapers, announcements that say: "We're trying to get a more accurate picture of how much clergy sex abuse has happened.
So . . .
Even if your molester is dead;
Come forward now and report the crimes.
This may be our best opportunity to get closer to the truth.
As always, SNAP is ready to work with bishops to develop more meaningful audits, not merely audits of paperwork. We are especially interested in seeing a vigorous outreach effort, so that the Church's second report is more helpful.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests