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SNAP
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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Bishops' New Survey

 

March 30, 2005

For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP Founder and President (312) 399 4747 cell

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago,
SNAP founder and president (312 399 4747)

"This is a long overdue step. But it would be much easier and more effective if bishops would simply meet face-to-face with victims, especially our leaders who have a wealth of information and have helped thousands of wounded victims and their families for 15 years.

For more than three years, bishops have listened largely to their lawyers and public relations staff. It's unfortunate that only now are bishops even beginning to try to listen to victims in any systematic way.

If the bishops were genuinely interested in hearing from us, they long ago would have

- put several victims, including SNAP leaders, on the National Review Board

- met with our national and local leaders

- lived up to their promises in Dallas in June 2002 for "on-going dialogue" with our group, the nation's largest support group for clergy molestation victims. (In fact, since June 2002, the hierarchy of the bishops conference has had virtually no contact with us.)

We fear that many survivors have long given up on any hope of real reform by bishops, and may scoff at the sincerity or value of this survey.

It's always better to offer survivors choices, so giving victims the option of face-to-face meetings with bishops along with this survey is best. Sadly, however, most bishops still rarely, if ever, sit down in the same room with abuse victims, instead insisting that we meet with lower-level diocesan staff.

To some survivors, this may seem like one more public relations effort and another way for bishops to seem like they care while distancing themselves from the actual horror their insensitivity has wreaked."

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DATE: March 30, 2005

FROM: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh

O: 202-541-3200

H: 301-587-4762

BISHOPS LAUNCH SURVEY ASKING SURVIVORS OF CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS TO AID THEM IN HELPING VICTIMS, PREVENTION

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse has launched a survey of survivors of clergy sexual abuse of minors to get input into improving the church’s response to the problem and its prevention.

The survey will be conducted by Mary A. Lentz, an Ohio-based child abuse prevention consultant. It will be available on-line March 30-May 4 on the website dedicated exclusively to this project, http-www.victim-outreach.com-.html.

It will not be possible for anyone to determine the identity of respondents, who also are asked not to identify themselves, their abuser, or the abuser’s diocese or eparchy or religious community. Instructions stress that “Reports of abuse are to be made to law enforcement officials and officials of the diocese/eparchy where the abuse occurred.”

The project has three goals:

1) To provide victims/survivors of child sexual abuse a voice in helping other victims/survivors

2) To assist dioceses and eparchies (dioceses of Eastern rite) in developing appropriate responses to victims/survivors of child sexual abuse.

3) To identify preventative measures of child sexual abuse to be used by dioceses/eparchies.

When complete the results of the project will be made available on the Web at www.victim-outreach.org, in printed form, and on the bishops’ Web site, http://pull.xmr3.com/p/370-640B/32526133/http-www.usccb.org-.html.

Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, said the survey is part of church efforts to reach out to survivors of abuse who have a unique perspective to offer the church and others who have been abused.

“The horrific experience of being sexually abused is best understood by the survivors of this crime,” Archbishop Flynn said. “With the help of these survivors, the bishops can better reach out to those who have been hurt and can develop prevention programs to assure as much as is humanly possible that this crime never occurs again.”

The questionnaire is divided into four parts. Part A contains questions about the abuse and its impact on the survivor and others. Part B contains questions that pertain to informing others about the abuse and reporting it to authorities. Part C contains questions about the responses of the Church to the survivor’s report of abuse. Part D contains questions that pertain to future responses and prevention of abuse.

Mary Lentz has taken on the project at the request of the Catholic bishops of the United States and their Office of Child and Youth Protection.

Ms. Lentz is a former public school teacher and an attorney whose practice is in public law and school law as well as not-for-profit corporation law. She holds a juris doctor degree from Cleveland Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University, a master’s degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College in Cleveland. Ms. Lentz lectures nationally and locally and is an author in the area of public and private school law, and law regarding the rights of children. Prior to entering private practice, Ms. Lentz was a public school teacher, legal counsel for the Ohio Department of Education, a county criminal and a municipal police prosecutor. She is presently Youth Coordinator for the City of Westlake (Ohio) Community Services Department.

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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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