Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement


For immediate release: Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not just words, vague promises, empty apologies, nice gestures; we need action and swift punishment

Statement by Peter Isely of Milwaukee, board chair emeritus of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (414-429-7259)

(In the first of what will likely be several remarks about the church's ongoing child sex abuse and cover-up crisis, on the plane this morning, the Pope said he's 'ashamed' of the scandal and will work to prevent it in the future.)

Promises don't protect kids. Action protects kids.

The Pope has established a worldwide policy on saying mass in Latin. He has not established a worldwide policy on child sex abuse. Three years into his papacy, Benedict has done essentially what John Paul II did - make a few vague, brief remarks about the continuing crisis, and nothing more.

It's easy and tempting to continually focus on the pedophile priests themselves. It's harder but crucial to focus on the broader problem - complicity in the rest of the church hierarchy.

Fixating on or condemning the 'bad apples' (predators) doesn't fix the 'barrel' (a secretive, self-protecting clerical culture overseen by largely timid, passive, secretive, compromised bishops, who often still refuse or delay suspending predators, calling police, telling the truth).

Weeding out dangerous pedophiles is tough. Punishing deceptive supervisors is easy.

Dangerous pedophiles won't be deterred by punishment. Secretive supervisors, however, WILL be deterred.

But punishing high-level colleagues is more difficult than chastizing low-level predators.

Sadly, regardless of good intentions, there will always be predators who gravitate toward ministry. The question is "How quickly can we identify and oust them?" In many institutions, that happens quickly. In the church, it happens slowly. The reason, in part, is that virtually no bishop suffers negative consequences for shielding predators, stonewalling prosecutors, shunning victims, and deceiving parishioners.

Until that changes, predatory priests will continue to be removed after molesting 33 kids, instead of after molesting 3 kids.

We're way beyond the point at which an apology, a nice gesture, a few soothing words, and vague promises will be meaningful. None of these safeguard kids. Action protects kids.

(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 8,000 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

David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home)
Peter Isely (414 429 7259), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747)
Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Mary Grant (626-419-2930)
Mark Serrano (703-727-4940

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests