The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, March 19, 2010
Warning: Pope's letter could cause pain to victims
Statement by Peter Isely, Midwest Director 414 429 7259
No matter how long, detailed, passionate or “unprecedented” the Pope’s words of sympathy to Irish citizens may be tomorrow, we hope they will be ignored. At this point, words aren’t needed. Decisive action is needed.
Apologies are appropriate when a crisis is over. This crisis is barely beginning. Everyone’s focus now should not be on “renewal” or “reconciliation.” (That can come later.) It must be on protecting kids right now, kids who are vulnerable to the dozens, perhaps hundreds, of predatory priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and other church employees – past and present. Though some of the offenders are deceased or elderly, many of them are walking and working free among unsuspecting families and should still be considered dangerous.
It’s irresponsible to speak of the on-going scandal and risk and harm in the past tense, and pretend that only the healing of wounds is needed now.
The second focus should be on learning the full truth. No doctor operates on a cancer patient without knowing where and how much cancer there is. Similarly, secular and church officials can’t truly begin to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded until they know who and where the predators and enablers are and how clergy sex crimes have been and are so effectively concealed.
There is much the Pope could do right now to help, but we aren’t optimistic. When it comes to abuse, he “talks the talk” but refuses to “walk the walk.” With church cover ups, he often fails to even “talk the talk.”
We fear he won’t seek or demand resignations of callous, deceitful and reckless Irish bishops who have enabled hundreds of pedophiles to assault thousands of children.
We predict he won’t call for more state investigations into Ireland’s other dioceses, (where it’s likely thousands more clergy sex crimes and hundreds more church cover ups remain hidden).
We predict he won’t beg victims and witnesses and whistleblowers to call police so that predators can be prosecuted.
We predict he won’t urge lawmakers to reform archaic, predator-friendly laws that shield child molesters and reckless employers.
We predict he won’t make sorely-needed and long-overdue world-wide church edits that could make a difference (like creating a church-run global registry of predator priests like the one in the US maintained by concerned Catholic lay people at BishopAccountability.org)
Why do these steps matter?
Ousting complicit bishops is important because that deters future callousness, recklessness and deceit by other officials, inside and outside the church.
More independent investigations is important because Irish citizens, Catholics, victims and governmental authorities need and deserve to know the full truth so that future abuse and cover ups can be minimized.
Begging those with information about crimes and cover ups to speak up is important because we must all be reminded of our civic and moral duty to share knowledge with law enforcement so that kids will be protected.
Reforming old and ineffective laws – both criminal and civil – is important because secular laws (not self-serving and sporadically followed internal church policies) safeguard the vulnerable.
The registry is important because it’s the single most immediate and effective way to protect children today – letting neighbors, parents, employers and co-workers know about dangerous predators.
(If the Pope doesn’t establish one, each Irish bishop should immediately do so in his own diocese.)
The bottom line: what comes from the Vatican tomorrow may make a few adults temporarily feel better. It won’t make any kids safer. It won’t shed light on hidden truths. It won’t discipline wrong-doers. It won’t deter more wrong-doing.
That requires courageous action, not a papal letter.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’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), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests