The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago (312 399 4747)
February 27, 2004
It's clear what American bishops want. They want us to think it's
all about a tiny group of bad apple priests long ago.
It's about the bishops, not the priests.
A passage from Luke, chapter 11, is very apt: "Who, if his child asks for bread, would give him a stone?" That's what most bishops are doing - giving us stones instead of bread.
Catholics want and deserve accountability from bishops.
The Bible also tells us "the truth shall set you free."
And right now, we don't have it. We may be a tad closer, but we certainly aren't there. And we need to keep pushing until we get there. Victims hunger for the truth. Catholics deserve the truth. Kids, to be safe, need the truth.
Let's talk about our terminology for a minute.
The John Jay document is not a study, not a thorough accounting, or God forbid, not an investigation. It's a self-survey. Period. No independent corroboration, no spot-checking, no verification, no third party involvement.
It's also not a sign of greater openness. Keep in mind that this has been forced on the bishops by years of seemingly endless revelations, removals, prosecutions, admissions, exposes, verdicts, lawsuits, and excuses.
Now let's talk about the bishops' terminology for a minute. To the bishops, we say:
Stop the excuse making:
Stop the minimizing:
Stop the dodging:
Stop the distancing:
Stop the self-praise.
These comments don't "provide perspective." They provide
cover. They provide
Again, remember: it's not about "other people" perpetrators, therapists, parents, other professions. It's about you all, the bishops.
And what have you bishops done?
Let's look back for a moment. In1993, following the horrific Father James Porter case, church PR people, defense lawyers and insurance companies insisted that virtually every diocese adopt a written sexual abuse policy. Many dioceses established review boards. The bishops set up a national committee. Thick documents were produced. And the mantra became "We've got a committee. We've got policies. We're moving on." Is this sounding familiar?
Now the mantra is a largely the same with one new twist. From this day forward, the bishops' not-so-subtle message will basically be "We've got policies. We've got numbers. We're moving on."
In all fairness, this time around, ten years later, there has been
more activity, more motion. But action doesn't necessarily mean
progress. Motion doesn't necessarily mean forward motion.
The numbers mean nothing if kids are at risk. Children, the most vulnerable members of our society come first. And let's be clear - children are at risk today!
We have a public safety crisis. The bishops admit there are 4000 priest child molesters, -- some have died, few are behind bars. But many are out there and they are not being monitored.
These child molesting priests were shielded from law enforcement by our bishops. These perpetrating priests are not mandated to provide their names & addresses on sex offender registries - but they pose no less threat to children than other child molesters who aren't priests.
The bishops have a moral and civic responsibility to release the names of these child molesting priests. A data base should be established so that law enforcement officials, employers and parents can know the truth about these men before they allow them access to more children, as tutors, coaches, scout leaders, counselors and teachers.
Lastly, we challenge the Bishops to stand firm on their commitments to zero tolerance. They made a promise the American Catholics, to the American people two years ago.
Their commitment is:
Quoting Bishop Wilton Gregory President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops,
"Bishops will not tolerate even one act of sexual abuse of a minor. No free passes. No second chances. No free strike. An abuser can indeed be forgiven for his sins. He just doesn't get a second chance to do it again. Period."
They said no priest, with even one credible allegation of child abuse would ever be returned to ministry. Grumblings from the Vatican say zero tolerance is too extreme. We say it is a mere minimum safeguard.
We say to the bishops: "Stand firm to your commitments! Keep perpetrators out of ministry! Keep kids safe!!"
SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests