The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Sex Abuse Victims Respond to Pope's
In the wake of the statement by the Pope today, David Clohessy of St. Louis issued this statement. Clohessy is national director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the nation's largest clergy abuse victims self-help group.
"Despite the horrific disclosures of the past few years, priests accused of sexual abuse still enjoy excessive deference and are often afforded every conceivable benefit of the doubt.
The job of protecting kids and removing abusive priests is far from over. Our overwhelming focus must remain on protecting the emotional, physical and spiritual safety of thousands of youngsters, even over protecting the reputations of a few adults.
Certainly, in some dioceses, procedures need to be clarified and streamlined, so that both the accused and the accusers are clear on what steps will be taken when an allegation of sexual misconduct is lodged against a cleric.
But we must keep our eyes on the prize - the well-being of Catholic children.
We in SNAP know of at least 15 priests who currently face active civil lawsuits yet remain in active parish ministry (including Boston MA, St. Louis MO, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where six such priests work and where SNAP members plan to leaflet this weekend.)
We know of several against whom civil lawsuits have been settled, sometimes to the tune of six figures, yet remain in active parish ministry (including Bridgeport CT, Owensboro KY)
We know of one who has twice been found guilty of indecent exposure, yet remains a priest in good standing.
Every week we read of more allegations against priests, yet some of their parishioners and brother priests immediately, publicly and emphatically proclaim the accused cleric's innocence, rather than keeping an open mind.
We hope that lay Catholics resist the temptation of false and premature complacency. Kids are safest when molesters are behind bars and when parents are vigilant.
As always, we urge abuse victims to break their silence, contact the police and prosecutor (regardless of when the crimes happened) and go to a therapist or support group get the healing the need and deserve.
"When victims stay silent, nothing changes," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP's founder and president. "But when victims find the strength and courage to come forward, kids are protected and justice sometimes happens."
The Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
now has more than 4,600 members in virtually every state, and monthly
support group meetings in 54 cities.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests