The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Statement Regarding Predators in Rome
April 13, 2005
Statement by Barbara Dorris of
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
We're here in the literal and figurative center of Catholicism.
This is perhaps the last place you might expect to find potentially dangerous clerics, allegedly celibate men who have been credibly accused of molesting children.
It saddens us to say this but several clerics have been identified as credibly accused child molesters. They either live or work in or near the Vatican.
At least some church officials have known of the allegations, in some instances, for years. For at least six months, these men and their frightening histories have been public knowledge, thanks to outstanding research by Dallas Morning News investigative journalists Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin.
Yet it seems that little, if any, action or safeguards have been taken to protect vulnerable youngsters.
This situation concerns us for several reasons.
First, we of course worry about the safety of innocent children and vulnerable adults here, around these men.
Second, we also worry about the signal this sends to other priests, those who are predators and those who are not.
Will predators believe or assume that there are few, if any, consequences for hurting a child?
Will good priests feel demoralized watching an abusive colleague who ignores celibacy and criminal laws, get an apparent promotion?
Third, we worry that these are not isolated incidents. In a year-long investigation, the Dallas Morning News discovered and documented more than 200 cases where admitted, proven or credibly accused Catholic clerics moved from one country to another, sometimes to evade criminal prosecution.
Church officials may claim some of these men are monitored, are safer here than in their home countries or dioceses.
We've heard these weak reassurances for years. They lead to complacency. And complacency never protects children. Complacency is reckless. Jesus does not call us to be reckless with the lives of his flock.
Church officials may also try to minimize the risk these men pose to others. "It was one incident." "It happened years ago." "He's been in therapy."
We've heard these rationalizations for years. They lead to complacency. And complacency never protects children. Complacency is reckless. Jesus does not call us to be reckless with the lives of his flock.
These hollow reassurances and misleading rationalizations also have been proven wrong time and time and time again. Many SNAP members are living proof that priests can't monitor, and supervise, and cure abusive priests.
We do not know for certain whether each of these potentially dangerous men is still in this area.
We do not know whether these men have abused youngsters here in Italy.
We do know, however, that child molesters are rarely, if ever, cured.
And we know that parents -- both Catholic and non-Catholic-- should be warned.
As best we can tell, they haven't been, despite repeated promises by church officials to be more honest about abuse cases.
This, we feel, is the very least church officials can do.
Beyond that, church leaders should take aggressive steps to reach out to anyone who witnessed, experienced, or suspected abuse by these men. Those victims and witnesses should be encouraged to contact law enforcement and to get therapy.
If these men are guilty, they should be locked up. We say this not in a spirit of vengeance, but in a spirit of concern - concern for the vulnerable. When molesters are behind bars, innocent children and vulnerable adults are safe.
The long term solution involves reforming criminal and civil laws (including extradition laws) that make it very hard for victims to expose, remove and imprison dangerous predators.
But in the short run, starting today, responsible Vatican officials must at least use every means possible -- church bulletins, web sites, diocesan publications, and verbal announcements -- to warn parents and reduce the chances that these clerics will not rape or sodomize others.
For more information:
Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Missouri, USA, SNAP Outreach Director 39 334 180 7425 cell
In the US:
Mark Serrano of Leasburg VA, SNAP Board Member (703) 727 4940 cell, (571) 223 0042
Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP Board Member (626) 419 2930 cell
Peter Isely of Milwaukee WI, SNAP Board Member (414) 429 7259 cell, (414) 963 8617 home
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests