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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sex abuse victims charge Legion of Christ with continued secrecy and callousness

Self help group wants investigation into controversial order's sex crimes and cover ups.

Statement by Kathy Rector of Southington CT, SNAP Hartford Co-Director (860 384 4372, 860 621 4042)

We belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.

Among the deeply wounded, of course, are dozens of men who were sexually abused and exploited as children by Fr. Maciel. They were victimized a second time when Catholic officials ignored their warnings and pleas. They were victimized a third time when Legion officials were deceptive about Maciel's crimes, even after the Vatican's disciplined Maciel. We strongly suspect they are further disillusioned and saddened by the news that Maciel sexually exploited a woman and fathered at least one child.

We're very disappointed by the Religion News Service report that the Legion had no plans to apologize to any alleged abuse victims or offer them pastoral care. "They have surely found a way by now to receive adequate care," said Fr. Paolo Scarafoni, spokesman at the Legionaries’ headquarters in Rome.

Many who were molested by clergy still experience this kind of callousness by church officials. It is inexcusable. It is hurtful. And it is one reason so many who were molested continue today to suffer in shame, silence and self-blame.

No matter how cold-hearted Catholic authorities may be or seem, we urge everyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups, in the Legion or elsewhere, to come forward, speak up, get help, call police, expose predators, protect kids and start healing.

Regarding 'protecting the vulnerable,' much remains to be done, especially in the controversial, hyper-defensive organization known as the Legion of Christ. Perhaps more than any Catholic institution anywhere, the Legion remains shockingly insular and secretive, especially regarding sexual misdeeds and cover ups. Church authorities admit that between 20 and 100 individuals report having been sexually assaulted as kids by Maciel. We suspect there are many more.

Yet Legion staff have repeatedly attacked Maciel's victims, questioned their motives, and heaped more pain on top of already devastating pain. They refuse to clearly admit serious crimes by Maciel, or compassionately reach out to his victims.

Even under public pressure and scrutiny, the Legion refuses to budge from its obsession with secrecy. An organization that refuses to clearly disclose, admit or ameliorate horrific child sex crimes by its founder cannot be considered safe for children. The Legion's hierarchy shows absolutely no signs of reform regarding child molestation and cover ups.

We see the same hurtful and disingenuous actions today regarding the latest reports of sexual misdeeds by Maciel. It's very discouraging and frankly, very dangerous.

-- launch a truly independent probe into all abuse accusations against Maciel.

-- be honest and clear about the new sexual misconduct allegations against him,

-- use their 'considerable' resources (websites, newsletters, parish bulletins) to 'aggressively reach out to others with information about Maciel's misdeeds and beg them to come forward, get help, and

-- publicly apologize to the more than 20 men who Maciel molested when they were boys.

We strongly suspect the Legion will soon take belated and begrudging public relations moves to look responsive. But we have little confidence there will be genuine reform. Still, we have to do what we can, as survivors, to expose corruption, find and help victims, and prod a recalcitrant, secretive, and callous institutional bureaucracy to act more Christ-like.

(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 SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact: 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
www.snapnetwork.org