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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Clergy sex abuse victims blast German church hotline
Statement by David Clohessy, Executive Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790)
We urge victims to NOT call this phone number, for their sake and the sake of others.
In our experience, these church mechanisms are more about trying to handle the crimes and cover ups internally than about genuinely protecting the vulnerable and healing the wounded.
Victims should tell loved ones, therapists, police, prosecutors and support groups about their suffering first, and only call the church hierarchy or its surrogates as a last resort.
Often, even these days, when church officials learn of clergy sex crimes and cover ups, they begin to destroy evidence, threaten witnesses, intimidate victims, fabricate excuses and transfer predators. Reports of abuse should go to the independent professionals in law enforcement, not the biased, self-serving staff in chancery offices.
Frankly, it’s silly to think that the same secretive, callous and reckless men who ignored and concealed horrific crimes for decades have now magically done a complete turnabout and are sincerely interested in publicizing these crimes and help these victims.
We urge victims to come forward, expose predators, protect kids, reveal wrongdoers, and start healing … but we urge them to be careful and seek out independent sources of help, rather than church officials.
(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 22 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)
Germany's Catholic church sex abuse hotline goes live
Berlin (dpa) - Germany's Catholic church set up a telephone hotline for sexual abuse victims on Tuesday, after several hundred reports of widespread mistreatment by priests emerged in recent months, dating back to the 1950s.
Three days a week, trained advisors and therapists will now be available to answer calls to the free telephone number, set up by the Catholic church.
"With this offer we want to encourage victims to contact us, irrespective of whether these are old or current cases," said the bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, who has been appointed by the church to investigate sex abuse complaints.
"We will do everything possible so sexual abuse in institutions of the Catholic church does not occur again," Ackermann added.
The hotline was also welcomed by the Jesuit order of priests, where the first sexual abuse cases emerged in January, prompting hundreds of people to come forward with similar experiences. More than 250 abuse cases have now been registered.
Ursula Raue, who has been appointed by the Jesuits to investigate the sexual abuse cases, said it was important that the hotline remained neutral and gave people the impression that their case was being taken seriously.
Christian Weisner, of the reform Catholic movement We Are Church, welcomed the helpline but stressed the importance of alternatives which already existed for abuse victims to seek advice.
"There are certainly people who have had such bad experiences with the church that they don't want to seek their advice," Weisner said.
We Are Church has received calls from around 400 people reporting sexual abuse by clerics, after setting up an anonymous hotline in 2002.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests