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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, March 15, 2010
Vatican says number of sex abuse cases in church is small; Victims respond
Statement by Barbara Dorris, National Outreach Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314-862-7688
The Vatican is claiming that instances of sexual abuse of children are far more widespread in the secular world than in the Catholic Church. It has also blamed the media for covering the sex scandal that is rocking the church in Ireland, Germany and Austria.
This is a baseless, childish and irrelevant claim. It is baseless because there is little hard data on the extent of abuse in various institutions and because 98 % of clergy sex crimes and cover-up across the globe remain hidden. It is childish because trying to blame others for one's own wrong doing is what children do. It is irrelevant because the real issue is the cover-up and evidence suggests that no institution conceals more child sex crimes than the Catholic hierarchy.
This is the same tired deceitful claim that Catholic officials have made about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups for 20 years. It is a common public relations maneuver: defending the indefensible by shifting blame and pointing fingers.
No one can stop priests or plumbers from molesting children. It doesn't matter whether priests molest more than plumbers or vice versa. What matters is that priests' supervisors, not plumbers' supervisors, clearly and consistently conceal the crimes. That is what the Vatican refuses to admit, and that is what the rest of the world understands.
Across Europe Catholic officials seem intent on recycling the same self serving "internal reforms" that American bishops adopted eight years ago. (Internal investigations, policy revisions, public apologies) Make no mistake about it this is "spin", not reform. The problem has never been a lack of policies, panels, and procedures. The problem has been and remains a lack of courage, compassion, and decisive action. No institution can police itself, and bishops lack the incentives and integrity to really even try. The real solution involves more independent probes like the Murphy Commission and US grand juries. Kids are best protected when the experienced unbiased professionals in law enforcement step up to the plate, investigate, expose and prosecute reckless, deceitful, and callous church officials who endanger children.
For the protection of the vulnerable and the healing of the wounded nothing is more important than the full truth emerging. Church officials should do everything in their power to beg victims, witness and whistle blowers to speak up. Attacking the messenger, insulting the media, criticizing other institutions -these tactics discourage victims from stepping forward and should not be used.
(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 since 1988 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), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Vatican says number of sex abuse cases in church is small
By Nick Pisa in Rome
In a front page editorial, its official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano stressed: "For the love of truth, the number of incidents involving clergy is very small."
It blamed media coverage of the sex scandals rocking the Catholic Church in Ireland, Germany and Austria for implying that there was a higher instance of sexual abuse in the Church than in other parts of society.
"This has a negative effect on the Catholic Church...but it should be noted that abuse of children is more widespread in non-religious people and married couples than clergy," the paper said.
As pressure increased on the Vatican, Ireland's top Roman Catholic, Cardinal Sean Brady, rejected calls to quit on Sunday after it emerged he had attended meetings where two alleged victims of a notorious paedophile priest signed an oath of secrecy.
Campaigners for victims of clerical child abuse called for his resignation after a Catholic Church statement said Cardinal Brady was present at the 1975 meetings at the direction of the late Bishop of Kilmore Francis McKiernan.
The church was investigating sex abuse complaints against Father Brendan Smyth whose activities led to the fall of prime minister Albert Reynolds' coalition government in 1994.
Smyth, who is believed to have abused hundreds of children over a 40-year period, was finally jailed in the 1990s and died in prison.
The cardinal insisted that his presence at the meetings was not a "resigning matter" and said he failed to contact the state authorities at the time as he was not the "designated person" to do so.
Meanwhile, in Vatican City, the Church worked to distance the pontiff from an abuse case in Germany.
Last week it emerged that Pope Benedict, while Archbishop of Munich, had been involved in a decision in 1980 to move a priest who was suspected of child abuse.
At the time Pope Benedict, then Archbishop Josef Ratzinger, jointly agreed to the priest undergoing therapy at a rectory in the diocese of Munich and Freising, where he was archbishop from 1977 to 1981.
However, rather than sending the priest for therapy as had been agreed, the diocese's then vicar general, Gerhard Gruber, assigned him to a Munich parish without restrictions.
Church officials in Germany have stressed that Pope Benedict was unaware of what had happened and it has emerged that the priest, known only as H, was convicted of child sex crimes.
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Sunday suggested that the Vatican feared cases within Italy itself and an avalanche of claims for compensation.
Church officials in the northern Italian diocese of mainly German-speaking Bolzano have set up an email hot line for victims of abuse by priests.
A local newspaper has already carried an interview with a man who claimed he was abused by priests at a local school. Luis Benedikter, spoke of a "climate of fear" at the unidentified school during the 1950s, which he attended for three years until he was 15.
Mr Benedikter said:"The director of the choir would beat us with a whip, hitting us in the face and on the hands. There was an atmosphere of crude violence and intimidation. It was physical and psychological abuse."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests