The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Bishop Tobin letting parishioners rally around credibly accused cleric; SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy, SNAP National Director 314-566-9790
We are very disappointed that Bishop Tobin is letting parishioners publicly rally around a credibly accused child molesting cleric. Letting well-intentioned but misguided church members act like this contributes to a chilling climate in which those who saw, suspected or suffered horrific child sex crimes stay silent.
There are dozens of ways these Catholics can support their priest without intimidating child sex abuse victims who have yet to come forward or rubbing salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of clergy sex abuse victims. Tobin has a moral duty to educate his flock so they will respond to credible allegations in a less hurtful manner.
Every adult, especially every Catholic adult, should work hard to welcome, not shun, those who reporting having been molested as children. To do otherwise is to perpetuate the culture of secrecy that has long permeated the church and largely still does. To openly back a credibly accused cleric essentially says to children who are being molested right now "Don't think of speaking up, because no one will believe you."
We hope this priest's supporters will express their sentiments in a more sensitive way and try to remain open-minded. And we hope Bishop Tobin will show courage, exercise leadership and help his flock understand how to appropriately react when clerics are accused of crimes.
Here's the bottom line: It's very hard, of course, for a wrongly-accused adult to repair his or her reputation. It's much harder, however, for a sexually victimized child who is disbelieved or intimidated into silence to repair his or her deeply wounded and betrayed psyche.
(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 21 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 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),
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests