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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, March 25, 2010

Warned About Abuse, Vatican Failed to Defrock Priest; SNAP responds

Statement by Peter Isely of Milwaukee, Wisconsin - SNAP Midwest Director (in Rome today)

Newly-disclosed church records prove that the world’s two most powerful Catholic prelates refused to rein in a serial predator even though three US bishops begged them to act. Because these documents are relatively recent, the crimes so egregious, the victims so vulnerable and the Vatican inaction so clear, this disclosure is particularly damaging to Benedict and Bertone.

Benedict has told bishops to "recognize the extent and complexity of the (abuse) problem" and "admit grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred." He’s said "All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness."

"It cannot be denied that some of you (bishops) and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse,” Benedict has written. “Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations." He’s said that bishops should “remedy past mistakes” and “guarantee that they do not happen again.”

These papal admonitions apply to the pope as well. He must follow his own advice. He must “come clean,” about this case and others he has mishandled, especially as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

Several years ago, speaking about the abuse crisis, he told Irish bishops “It’s important to establish the truth of what happened.” Perhaps most important, it’s time for Benedict to do this, starting with his own cover ups. And if he refuses, how can he ever hope to hold others accountable for recklessness, deceit and callous misdeeds since he himself was involved in recklessness, deceit and callous misdeeds?

I feel passionate about the Times’ disclosures. I’ve spent hours with these extraordinarily brave victims of Fr. Murphy. I’ve met the Wisconsin church officials who tried to little about Murphy yet could and should have done so much more so much sooner. I know that tremendous suffering could have been prevented or ameliorated if any church official, even just one, would have been brave enough to act.

But it hurts even more to know, clearly, that even the top Catholic officials didn’t act, to either protect the vulnerable or heal the wounded.

It’s important to know how involved the Pope was with Fr. Hullerman, and other predator priests, nuns, seminarians and brothers, when he headed the Munich archdiocese. It’s important to know how the Pope and his highest aide, Cardinal Bertone, handled the Murphy case. But even more, it’s important to know how the Pope handled hundreds of cases across the world more recently, as head of the Vatican bureaucracy where all abuse reports were quietly sent.

That’s what he must do. The Pope, if he is to have any credibility whatsoever in this crisis, must voluntarily release records of how he himself handled hundreds of clergy sex crimes and cover ups as head of CDF. He can’t tell his managers across the globe “Be more open with abuse” unless he’s willing to lead by example.

Some claim that Ratzinger’s 2001 world-wide memo to bishops insisting on secrecy in clergy abuse cases was misinterpreted. These records show that, even before 2001, Ratzinger’s practice and priority was secrecy. More important, the stunningly consistent behavior of bishops across the globe proves that secrecy with clergy sex crimes remains ‘job one’ in the Catholic hierarchy even now, from the top down.

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Missouri - SNAP executive director (in Missouri today)

"These records prove that the world's two top Catholic officials did nothing about a serial predator despite repeated pleas from three US bishops. The reason was because then-Cardinal Ratzinger and then-Cardinal Bertone were afraid of publicity. The year was 1998. The obvious result was that more kids were molested. The likely result was that more kids were molested. And now, the likely result will be that any papal words about getting tough with predators or being open about abuse will be meaningless, because church staff will see that the Pope himself, just a dozen years ago, opted for secrecy and inaction with an admitted predator."

Let's be clear about Ratzinger and Bertone: They did nothing. They didn't call police, warn citizens, contact parents, defrock the predator, or insist that Wisconsin bishops do anything other than keep quiet.

If they refuse to act against a pedophile who admits molesting 34 kids, imagine their indifference and inaction with pedophiles who admit nothing and molest fewer. If they rebuff three bishops, imagine how they respond to lay Catholics and victims.

Let's be clear about the Wisconsin bishops: They are no saints either. They delayed for years, contacting the Vatican only when lawsuits were threatened. Before, after, or instead of seeking Rome's advice, they could and should have done their civic and moral duty by calling police. None of them apparently ever did.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members across the globe.

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.)

CONTACT

In Rome: +49-172-1676 93, Peter Isely, peterisely@yahoo.com, 414 429 7259, from US: 0039 3388970386, Barbara Blaine, SNAPblaine@gmail.com 312 399 4747, Barbara Dorris, SNAPdorris@gmail.com, 314 503 0003, John Pilmaier, pilmaier@milwpc.com, 414 336 8575

In the US: David Clohessy, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, 314 566 9790

In Washington DC: Becky Ianni, RIanni@cox.net, 703 801 6044

In Chicago: Mary Guentner megmeg@execpc.com, 414 418 3191

In Milwaukee: Lynn Pilmaier, lynpilmaier@yahoo.com, 262 781 5361, Mark Salmon , msalmon44@yahoo.com, 414 774 4350

In Superior & Boulder Junction: Bob Schwiderski, skibrs@q.com, 952 471 3422


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