The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
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Today, the archbishop tries new approach in responding to victims of sexually abusive priests, nuns and other employees. Unfortunately, "new" isn't always better. In this case, it may well be "worse."
We lead a monthly support group for clergy abuse victims. Between the two of us, we've talked with dozens of men and women whose lives have been shattered by abusive clerics and complicit church officials
Doctors take an oath: first, do no harm." We share that belief.
So we feel duty bound to warn our fellow victims about what the archbishop is doing here. Many of us have been victimized first by a sick priest, then again by an insensitive church leader. The last thing on earth we need is s to be hurt again by a shrewd but manipulative church-dictated process.
Our message today to our fellow abuse victims is simple: "DO NOT ALLOW THE ARCHDIOCESE TO VICTIMIZE US AGAIN!"
We urge victims to
In the short term, all of us could use money. And the temptation to do ANYthing that might help lead to closure is very strong.
Still, we urge victims to think about the long term. Consider how you may feel yeras from now when you realize you might have been able to get access to church files about cover ups, learn about others your perpetrator may have abused, put the archbishop under oath, and expose the truth. These steps can ultimately be very healing to survivors.
Just as important, these steps can help protect children in the future. We should think long and hard before giving up these chances to do real good for so many others.
Bottom line: We urge victims to think about themselves AND about kids who may be hurt in the future. We urge victims to hold firm and push for REAL change and REAL justice.
Listen to these phrases on the very first page of the form victims
are to fill out:
There are 11 options or rights a victims gives up on the first page of this form. And there are 18 other pages to follow.
SNAP is speaking out to the victims today to say "DO NOT ALLOW THE ARCHDIOCESE TO BULLY US!"
The Archdiocese promised to do the right thing. We listened with renewed hope to Archbishop Pilarczyk on November 20, 2003 when he made three things very clear.
First, "Compensation will be available to all victims whose abuse has not already been brought to closure by agreement or court decision." (Archdiocese of Cincinnati website, Feb 29, 2004). After reviewing the claim form made available on www.thesettlementfund.com, it is clear that this is not true. Point number 5 of the claim form states that you must agree that " there is no guarantee that I will receive any award from the Fund. I also understand that even if I do not receive an award from the Fund, I cannot go back and file a court case." This is the statement of a bully, not someone that is trying to right a wrong.
Second, the Archbishop stated on November 20th " I hope that the fund can bring a measure of closure and reconciliation to the victims .I hope that it will make it easier for those who have been injured to come forgive those representatives of the Church who harmed them."(Archdiocese of Cincinnati website, Feb 29, 2004) What measure of closure can be brought when it is required that the victim has to sign away his or her rights in order to participate? Point 3 in the Fund claim form, "I understand and I agree that I give up all rights " Point 6 states "I understand that the Fund Tribunal's decision as to whether and in what amount I will be compensated will be final and binding." What is reconciliatory about not having an appeals process? How can we forgive an institution that tells the victim how much they think we deserve for our horrors, if anything at all? All that this reaffirms for us is that the Church is set on making us victims again. We ask the victims out there to see this Fund for what it truly is a means for the Church to forgive itself.
Third, the Archbishop again asks for forgiveness, "Victims, please forgive us and help us to see to it that what you have suffered never happens again."(Archdiocese of Cincinnati website, Feb 29, 2004) He is asking for our forgiveness, but at the same time, in Point 9 on the claim form, he is reserving the right to sue us for any fraudulent information given to the Church.
So let's see if we understand what is happening here, the Church is looking for closure and forgiveness, and expects the victims to reconcile with a Church that makes us give up all rights. Our voices are still not being heard and we are not allowed to seek documen-tation from the Church to support our allegations, but the Church can contact ANYONE that may or may not support your allegation. The Church cannot guarantee the victims' confidentiality, yet they will not release the names of the molesters because they want to honor the molester confidentiality.
What we know as victims is that we have to be true to ourselves, and do what will help us today, tomorrow, and in the future. Participating in this Fund accomplishes none of these. So, we ask that the Archbishop look in a mirror and as Shakespeare wrote, "This above all: to thine own self be true". - Hamlet (Act I, Scene III).
Christy Miller & Dan Frondorf
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests