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SNAP
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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement regarding Portland, OR Bankruptcy Plan

 

Monday, April 9, 2007

Statement by Mary Grant of Long Beach CA,
SNAP Western Regional Director, (626) 419 2930

Clergy sex abuse victims blast gag order

Tomorrow, Catholic church officials will likely crow at moving one step forward in their bankruptcy protection scam. But tonight, sex abuse victims are mourning.

We are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). We applaud the dozens of Oregon men and women who have found the strength and courage to come forward and report horrific serial sex crimes and deceitful cover ups of those crimes.

But we mourn the fact that these brave individuals will never have the chance to expose corruption like some abuse victims have. We mourn the fact that church officials who deceived the police, public, press and parishioners about clergy sex crimes are essentially getting off ‘scott free.’ We mourn the fact that the same church officials who have operated and still operate above the law are basically getting by with it again.

Regarding pedophile priests and corrupt bishops, the truth surfaces only through litigation – discovery, depositions and testimony. Without litigation, Catholics never learn who knew what when about pedophile priests. And with the Chapter 11 process, cover ups remain covered up. That’s why five bishops have gone this route – to avoid having to testify under oath and in open court about how much they knew and how little they did about predators on their payrolls.

Adding insult to injury, and heaping more dangerous secrecy on top of dangerous secrecy, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan and Lane County Circuit Judge Lyle Velure have imposed a gag order on everyone involved in the Chapter 11 process. This unprecedented, unwise and unfair move helps molesters and hurts kids. It helps keep the identities and whereabouts of predators secret. It helps keep the identities and methods of enablers secret. It’s also unhealthy, we feel, for adult victims, who often find it healing to discuss the crimes committed against them.

Historically, gag orders have sometimes been used to protect public safety. In this instance, gag orders are damaging public safety. These two judges are putting the convenience of complicit church officials above the needs of vulnerable kids and devout parishioners. Shame on them.

We understand that several abuse victims have filed a suit to void the gag order. We support them in this effort and wish them well. And we're sad that they even have to resort to legal action to secure their Constitutionally-guaranteed First Amendment rights.

Because Chapter 11 and the gag order both prevent truth-telling, today, we are urging potential “whistleblowers” - current or former church employees or members - to disclose what they know about pedophile priests and cover ups. Many times, when victims come forward, church workers who have information about clergy sex crimes breath signs of relief, stay silent, and assume that deception and corruption will be exposed through litigation. That’s obviously not happening here. So it’s crucial that those who have knowledge or suspicions about child molestation and cover ups speak up right away. Tell therapists, police, journalists, or support groups like ours. But tell someone. Staying silent perpetuates abuse and rewards wrongdoers. Please, find the courage and strength to do what we’ve done: come forward.

Finally, three weeks ago, Fr. Joseph Hoang was suspended from his Tillamook parish for sexual abuse allegations that are being investigated by the police. According to news accounts, church officials have not looked into the accusations against Hoang and will wait for the police investigation to finish before deciding what to do next. This is wrong and irresponsible. Sadly, however, it’s what bishops have done for decades and continues to do even now.

We implore Archbishop Vlazny to follow the example set by Jesus himself. Jesus taught us to leave the 99 and go out into the cold and rain and dark, to find and help the lost sheep. We urge the archbishop to go to the parish this weekend (and anywhere else Hoang may have worked) and urge victims and witnesses to contact law enforcement immediately.

We should not have to urge Portland church officials to personally visit parishes where Hoang worked and ask that any more victims or witnesses call police immediately. This is the instinctive, caring, responsible reaction any sensitive decision maker would have to credible abuse reports.

But sadly, despite his claims to have reformed, Vlazny still follows the same destructive ‘bare minimum’ approach he and his colleagues have used for ages.

We beg him to reconsider, and to put the safety of his flock ahead of his own comfort and convenience.

CONTACT:

Bill Crane of Portland, SNAP Oregon Director (503) 781 5245 cell

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566 9790 cell

 

 


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


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