The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
Friday, April 18, 2008
Stay vigilant about child sex crimes and cover-ups; Catholics take action
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949-322-7434 cell)
Three times this week, the Pope has talked about clergy sex abuse. Yesterday, he met for 25 minutes with a few victims.
For many Catholics, this is an exciting time. For many victims and child advocates, it's a worrisome time.
We can say "Great. The Pope may finally do something." Or we can say "Let's withhold judgment. Let's stay vigilant."
The first option is tempting but an irresponsible assumption. The second option is burdensome, but a safe approach.
Let me put this a different way: We can err on the side of optimism and passivity.
Or we can err on the side of prudence and action. Common sense, history and years of painful personal experience lead us to err on the side of prudence and action.
So today, we're asking Catholics, here and across the globe, to take several steps: Don't assume church officials will reform. Stay vigilant about child sex crimes and cover-ups. Learn how you can better stop kids from being victimized by inviting us into your churches and organizations to speak and help you better understand how predators work.
We take great hope in recent poll results that show Catholics are increasingly upset at how bishops continue to act recklessly, secretively and irresponsibly with child sex abuse cases and cover-ups.
That, to us, is a far more hopeful sign than anything else: that Catholics have a healthy and growing skepticism toward the church hierarchy and its public relations campaigns, and are looking realistically and critically at the huge gap between what bishops are doing and what bishops claim to do.
Skeptical Catholics, keep it up. Keep fighting for real change!
Our group's been around 20 years. We have 8,000 members. We've testified before dozens of legislatures. We've given countless presentations. We know a lot - individually and collectively - about how to prevent sexual abuse.
Finally, the Pope has instructed Catholics to do everything they can to help us heal. Almost nothing is more healing for us than working to help stop other kids from being traumatized. So to help us heal, help us spare others. Hear, firsthand, what we've learned about how predators operate.
Listening to us and hearing our pain - that's also healing. So to help us heal, invite us to your parishes and your meetings. Let us talk about the betrayals we've experienced - first, from abusive priests, nuns, brothers, seminarians, teachers and bishops, and then again from insensitive and deceitful church officials.
We want to share that with lay Catholics, for their sake and for their kids' safety. We want to share this with lay Catholics, for our sake, because it helps us heal when we work to spare other kids.
When you hear, really hear our suffering, you may feel less rosy about the pope's recent remarks and feel more motivated to help us protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
(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 20 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 www.SNAPnetwork.org)*
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests