The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Pope Issues His Most Direct Words to Date on Abuse; SNAP responds
Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwestern Director 414 429 7259
Today, according to the New York Times, the Pope made his “most direct” comments about the church’s abuse and cover up crisis.
As we’ve said before, however, nothing changes. More words, more direct words, more 'humble' words - they're still just words, and words protect no one. Across the globe there are hundreds of predator priests in parishes and thousands who have been suspended but are unsupervised. Kids are being molested right now. Adults are in pain right now. Pedophiles are applying to seminaries right now. Words alone are an irresponsible response to these facts. We do a huge disservice to kids by setting our expectations of the world's most powerful prelate so incredibly low.
The Pope can travel to the most heavily Catholic nations, one after another, and utter two or three sentences, time and again, avoiding tough questions and mischaracterizing the crisis, and nothing will change.
He must understand, admit, and act on the simple fact that it's children who are suffering most, not the church. It's about kids, not the church.
We're grateful he says that justice is as or more important than forgiveness. But again, his words are meaningless because across the planet, his managers and lawyers are fighting tooth and nail to prevent justice.
This spring, for example, church defense lawyers and lobbyists blocked reform of child sex abuse laws in Wisconsin, Arizona and other US states.
And right now, in St. Louis MO, church officials admit in court there’s evidence that a predator abused, that church officials were warned about him earlier, that they could have prevented his crimes. But since he abused a boy OFF of church property, the archdiocese claims it’s not responsible for his devastating crimes. Can anyone, much less a spiritual figure or institution, claim this is “just?”
Justice must, indeed, be done. But now, as it has been for decades, it’s being blocked by church officials, here and abroad.
(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 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. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contacts: David Clohessy (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312 399 4747), Mark Serrano (703 727 4940), Peter Isely (414 429 7259), Barbara Dorris (314 503 0003)
Finally, the following portion of a 5.3.10 statement by SNAP leader Mark Serrano, SNAP spokesman (703 727 4940) bears repeating:
The kind of action we want, and know will be effective, unfortunately won't be part of any Vatican policy:
- the firing, not resignations, of corrupt bishops,
- on line data bases of child molesting clerics,
- more reforms of predatory-friendly secular laws, and
- more state probes of diocesan cover ups.
The latter two steps must be taken by secular authorities. The Pope should push hard for such legislative reforms and independent investigations. But he won't. He'll insist on doing what Catholic officials have always insisted on: trying to handle horrific crimes internally, which is inherently problematic.
He'll announce a "zero tolerance" policy which will sound reassuring but change little. But he either won't spell out penalties for violators or won't actually impose those penalties, and the long-standing, deeply-rooted culture of child endangerment and self-serving secrecy will remain intact.
Finally, just yesterday, we asked the Pope to take immediate action to deter future wrongdoing in the church. We asked him to forbid Cardinal Darion Castrillon-Hoyos from leading a mass in Washington DC this weekend. He's a prelate who advocates the always-reckless and often-illegal action (refusing to call police about known and suspected abuse), as evidence by his 2001 letter praising a French bishop who was found guilty of not reporting child sex crimes. When wrong-doers like Castrillon-Hoyos get rewarded by the Catholic hierarchy, church employees everywhere see that wrongdoing is sanctioned. No new policy or procedures are needed to stop this unjust and hurtful action. All it takes is courage and compassion on the part of the Pope and Washington DC church officials.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests