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SNAP
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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Friday, March 13, 2009

Bishops admit that child sex abuse reports are up, SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris, SNAP National Outreach Director, 314-862-7688

We're saddened but not surprised that Catholic officials continue to focus strictly on predator priests while ignoring the even more disturbing crisis: reckless, secretive and callous church officials who often continue to ignore or conceal known or suspected clergy sex crimes.

The number of victims who report suffering horrific childhood trauma in any one year is less helpful than the number of bishops who keep hiding crucial information about church pedophiles that could actually prevent future childhood trauma. But virtually no bishop holds anyone responsible for concealing predators, now or the past. When wrong-doing is ignored, wrong doing continues.

We dispute the notion that most predator priests are 'out of the priesthood.' We believe most proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests are still on the church payroll, though they may not be in active ministry. We challenge church officials to provide clear, specific information (on every diocesan website and at the national level) about which predators have been defrocked and which have not.

With those predators who church officials claim are 'missing' we also take issue. We believe that many Catholic staff do, indeed, know where these predators are but choose to stay silent, putting other kids at risk. In almost every case, church authorities have vast resources they could use to warn unsuspecting families about these dangerous sex offenders, including their known or suspected or recent whereabouts. But sadly, the Catholic hierarchy largely still prefers to protect itself from embarrassment instead of protecting children from crimes.

This woefully-inadequate self-survey by bishops should be expanded to include nuns, seminarians, and other church employees who molest.

We hope that this report will prod others who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes, by clergy or others, to come forward, get help, call police, and start healing. When victims and witnesses stay silent, kids keep suffering and predators keep molesting. But when victims and witnesses find the strength and courage to speak up, at least there's a chance for healing, justice and prevention.

Consider just one example of the on-going secrecy and deceit and risk-taking within the church. In the last month, inSan Antonio archdiocese five Catholic clerics have been publicly exposed, for the first time, as credibly accused child molesters.

In none of the cases did the archbishop acted promptly, honestly, or carefully.

With two of the accused predators, he hid information about them and their alleged crimes until our group and the news media exposed them.

With three of the accused predators, he hid information about them and their alleged crimes for at least nine months.

Here are the specifics:

Last year, because of credible allegations of child sex abuse, officials suspended
-- Fr. Charles H. Miller from St. Mary's University, and
-- Brother Richard Suttle from an Arizona elementary school. (But the San Antonio archbishop quietly let Suttle move to and live in a San Antonio parish without warning anyone. He still lives there now.)

This week, the San Antonio archdiocese finally disclosed that Fr. Louis White, Fr. Larry Hernandez and Fr. David Zumaya are credibly accused of molesting a boy. However, archdiocesan staffer admits they've known about the report for at least nine months. They also admit they've heard other, earlier allegations against two of these priests. But they kept silent, warning no one about potentially dangerous predators who still walk free.

Contact

David Clohessy, SNAP National Director 314-566-9790, Barbara Blaine, SNAP President and Founder 312-399-4747, Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director 414-429-7259


Abuse claims against Catholic priests continue to climb
Rachel Zoll - Associated Press Writer - 3/13/2009 7:35:00 AM

NEW YORK - A new report from the nation's Roman Catholic bishops says the American church received more abuse claims against clergy last year than in the previous year.

Nearly all the 803 claims were made by adults who said they were molested decades ago. Most of the accused clergy are dead, out of the priesthood or missing.

The data are from an annual review of child safety in U.S. dioceses and religious orders that is set to be released Friday. The Associated Press obtained a copy.

Dioceses and religious orders spent about $436 million on settlements and other expenses last year, a drop from the previous year.

The auditors also found nearly all dioceses they reviewed have fully implemented the bishops' child protection policy.


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


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