Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vatican takes action against ultraconservatives; clergy sex victims respond

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)

It's interesting how quickly and publicly Vatican officials can take action against schismatic priests who break church laws but can't seem to act against predator priests who break criminal laws.

When victims complain that little is done about pedophile priests, we're told that the Catholic hierarchy always moves slowly. Obviously, that's not always the case. Vatican bureaucrats can and do act quickly on issues they care deeply about. Sadly, the safety of kids apparently isn't such an issue to them.

(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 9,000 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

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),

Vatican: Conservative group's ordinations illicit


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Priest ordinations planned by an ultraconservative group won't be legitimate even though Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunications of the organization's leaders, the Vatican said Wednesday.

The Vatican issued a statement reiterating that the schismatic Society of St. Pius X still has no status within the Catholic church and that its clergymen do not legitimately exercise any ministry.

The Vatican in 1988 excommunicated the society's four bishops after they were consecrated without papal consent by the late traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Lefebvre founded the society in 1969, opposed to the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council and especially its outreach to Jews and other religions.

Benedict in January lifted the bishops' excommunications in a bid to bring the dissidents back into the church. But the move sparked outrage among Jews and Catholics since one of the prelates, Bishop Richard Williamson, had denied the Holocaust.

Benedict subsequently made a rare acknowledgment of a Vatican mistake, saying in a March letter to Catholic bishops worldwide that he was unaware of Williamson's positions when he lifted the excommunications. In the letter, Benedict noted that the society had no legal status within the church and that its priests didn't legitimately exercise any ministry.

The Vatican reiterated those points Wednesday in response to the society's announcement earlier this month that it planned to ordain three priests and three deacons on June 27 at a seminary in southern Germany.

Any ordinations by the group "must be considered illegitimate," the Vatican said.

German bishops had urged the Vatican to intervene against what they called a provocation prior to difficult reconciliation talks between the two sides.

The church considers the society's ordinations are "valid but illicit." They are valid because Lefebvre was a validly ordained bishop in the Catholic Church, and thus could validly ordain others. But because Lefebvre was suspended in 1976, he had no authority from the pope to consecrate bishops, meaning their consecrations were illicit, or illegal in the church's eyes. Subsequent ordinations the group carries out are similarly considered "valid but illicit."

Wednesday's Vatican statement also said the pope would take another step to absorb the Vatican office that has handled the Lefebvre case, the Pontifical "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The commission, charged with healing the schism with the society, has been at the center of the criticism on how the case was handled since it apparently never knew about Williamson's views, which had been published in the mainstream media.

The Congregation will now oversee planned theological talks with the society in hopes of reabsorbing it into the church.

In an interview with Swedish TV broadcast shortly before the lifting of the excommunication, Williamson denied that 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. He said about 200,000 or 300,000 were murdered and none were gassed.

He later apologized for the "hurt" caused by his remarks, but he didn't recant them.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Vatican against ordination of breakaway priests

By Gina Doggett – Feb 25, 2009

VATICAN CITY (AFP) — The Vatican on Wednesday moved against upcoming ordinations of priests by a breakaway Catholic movement that includes a Holocaust denier whose views recently sparked global controversy.

"The ordinations are... still to be considered illegitimate," the Vatican said five months after its controversial decision to lift the excommunication of four bishops from the Society of St Pius X including Holocaust denier Richard Williamson.

Members of the fraternity "do not exercise legitimate ministries in the (Roman Catholic) Church," the communique said.

The Vatican statement said the Holy See would maintain its position "as long as issues concerning doctrine are not clarified," adding that the Switzerland-based group had "no canonical status in the Church."

The pope said in March that while the bishops had been "invited" back into the fold, they "do not (yet) legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church."

Benedict said that the four must recognise "the authority of the pope and the Second Vatican Council" in order to "complete the last steps necessary to achieve full communion with the Church."

John Allen, Vatican expert for the US weekly National Catholic Reporter, said the ordinations, planned for late this month, "could be read as a deliberate act of disobedience."

He added: "If you're a group that's trying to make up with the pope, doing something like this probably isn't the best idea."

The pope's decision in January to lift Williamson's excommunication infuriated the Jewish community and many Catholics.

Benedict's predecessor Pope John Paul II excommunicated Williamson and three other bishops after traditionalist leader Marcel Lefebvre ordained them as bishops of his separatist church in 1988.

Their fraternity rejected reforms passed by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, notably including a declaration, Nostra Aetate, which ended a Church doctrine by which Jews were held responsible for killing Jesus Christ.

Williamson, who claims that no Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers, has apologised to anyone offended by his remarks but has refused to retract his assertions, saying only that he would reexamine the historical evidence.

Lefebvre ordained the four bishops, in defiance of John Paul II, to create a hierarchy for the breakaway group.

"Because they haven't been fully reintegrated, that means that a bishop from this society has no permission ... to ordain priests," Allen told AFP. "They're not legitimate yet

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests