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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, March 29, 2010
Statement by Mary Guentner, SNAP Wisconsin Director
Hundreds and hundreds of wounded victims are finding the courage to speak up, name predators, protect kids, expose wrong-doers, and start healing. They should be praised, thanked and welcome. Instead, they are being vilified, mischaracterized and insulted.
It’s ludicrous to claim that these hundreds of once-trusting, devout Catholics are somehow conspiring to hurt the world’s most powerful religious figure. They are doing what we in the US are doing – making children safer, inside and outside of the church. They are doing what every crime victim should do – speaking up, time and time and time again, until criminals are caught and kids are safeguarded.
They do not deserve to be attacked and insulted.
Sadly, it’s not just the Pope who is making such ill-advised remarks. Several other top Catholic officials – in Rome and elsewhere – are making the same hurtful mistakes, using words like “despicable” and “ignoble” to describe recent disclosures and revelations that put the church hierarchy in a bad light. These officials should reign themselves in, or the Pope should reign them in. Otherwise, these church officials are intimidating adults who have been wounded and jeopardizing kids who may be wounded. And they’re rubbing salt into the already deep wounds of disillusioned and abused Catholics.
In fact, the church is hurt when church officials attack the motives of victims. It will only intimidate other victims and witnesses and whistleblowers, whose information might also protect kids and expose wrongdoers, into staying silent. And when victims, witnesses and whistleblowers stay silent, predators walk free and more kids are hurt.
At least a dozen veteran Vatican observers and journalists are saying that the Pope’s comment yesterday about “petty gossip” is directed at those who are disclosing and asserting that he helped hide clergy sex crimes. So this isn’t our interpretation. It’s the view of those far more objective than we are and far more experienced at reading the ‘tea leaves’ and opaque writings of an institution that seems to have a hard time communicating clearly.
Instead of attacking victims, journalists and others, the Pope should change his priorities.
Priority one must be stopping the abuse of children right now. History and common sense tell us there are still hundreds, if not thousands of predator priests still in church jobs across the globe. The Pope must focus on ousting them first.
Priority two must be helping relieve the suffering of those of us who were assaulted as kids and are hurting as adults.
At some point, way down the road, when kids aren’t so vulnerable and victims aren't so pained and Catholics aren’t so betrayed, then let’s worry about whether some adults have been too hard on the world’s most powerful religious figure.
In 2002, Benedict (then Ratzinger) told a Spanish audience that ‘I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign ... to discredit the church.’ He apparently believes this now, as do some of his more staunch defenders.
We beg him, and them, to think first of the vulnerable and the suffering, not of themselves.
Contact: Mary Guenter, SNAP Wisconsin, 414-418-3191
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests