The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Statement regarding Bishops' Annual
Review of Clergy Abuse Cases
For immediate release:
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)
Bishops will 'spin' these numbers to claim they've 'turned the corner,' ignoring the fact that the overwhelming majority of victims still haven't and probably won't ever speak up, but will instead continue to suffer in shame, secrecy and self-blame.
The sad truth is that this entire process is essentially a PR sham based on self-reported 'statistics' given by bishops themselves, the very same men who got us into this mess.
If the number of cases bishops hear is declining, it may be because more victims are now reporting child sex crimes to police officials, not church officials. But we fear it's because many victims refuse to speak up because they see bishops continuing to posture, stonewall and deceive. It's crucial that witnesses and victims keep speaking up. When victims and witnesses come forward, there's at least a chance for healing, prevention, justice and truth telling. When they stay silent, kids stay at risk and sex crimes stay hidden.
Victims report decades later because it takes that long to understand you've been severely hurt and you have options. The inevitable delay in reporting these devastating crimes is more evidence that lawmakers need to reform the archaic, arbitrary, and predator-friendly state laws.
Day by day, since their much-touted Dallas meeting in 2002, bishops have consistently been backing away from their pledges to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We fear that this self-serving self-survey will only make it easier for them to continue going backwards, under the illusion that they're somehow beyond the worst of the crisis. Bishops should take two simple, proven steps to protect kids right now. First, they should disclose and post on their websites the names and whereabouts of every proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive clergy - whether priest, nun, bishop, brother or seminarian. Second, they should join us in working to reform the statute of limitations so child sex abuse victims, like other crime victims, can protect kids and expose predators in court.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 17 years and have more than 7,000 members across the country. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
By RACHEL ZOLL AP Religion Writer
NEW YORK- The nation's Roman Catholic bishops and religious orders received 714 clergy sex abuse claims in 2006, the second consecutive year that the number of allegations has dropped, according to a new report on the church's child protection reforms.
Costs related to abuse cases also decreased-by about 15 percent over the last year-mainly due to a decline in what dioceses paid to settle molestation cases.
Dioceses and religious orders paid nearly $399 million in 2006 for settlements with victims, attorney fees and support for accusers and offenders. For 2005, that figure was $467 million-considered the highest ever for a single year.
The findings, set for release Wednesday, are part of an annual review that the bishops first commissioned in 2002 as they implemented reforms to better safeguard children at the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis.
The declining number of claims-there were 1,092 in 2004 and 783 the next year-could be taken as evidence that the church is gradually gaining control over the crisis, especially since the vast majority of allegations date back decades.
But more work is needed to address the problem, a key church official said.
"The bishops have done a lot and have spent a lot of money in a lot of different areas, but it's not all done, as you can tell by the number of victims still coming forward," said Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director of the bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests