The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, June 7, 2010
Dolan's Irish probe will allegedly focus on 'doctrine;' SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home)
An Irish newspaper reports that the upcoming Vatican "visitation" of Ireland's Catholic church (involving two US prelates - NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley) will likely concentrate on increased evangelization," fighting "secularization," boosting confession and mass attendance and similar “measures” of how devout parishioners may or may not be. The internal church probe was announced weeks ago by the Pope and is supposedly to deal with horrific revelations of widespread child sex crimes and cover ups in Ireland.
If this report is accurate, this is extremely disheartening. Clergy sex crimes and cover ups happen when church officials are “liberal” or “conservative,” and whether the flock is “devout” or “lax.” Even discussing such matters detract from the real task at hand: protecting the vulnerable, healing the wounded, exposing the truth, and deterring future recklessness, callousness and deceit.
Focusing on the laity, especially regarding mass attendance and confession, more than “misses the boat.” The problem has been and remains a rigid, secretive, self-serving all-male monarchy that consistently puts its own comfort and reputation above the safety and well-being of its flock.
There’s no need for an “evangelization” campaign. If bishops truly reform - and oust wrongdoers, protect kids and help victims - Catholics will likely return to the church. If bishops refuse, however, Catholics won’t.
(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)
New Vatican campaign to clamp down on 'liberal opinion'
VATICAN investigators to Ireland appointed by Pope Benedict XVI are to clamp down on liberal secular opinion in an intensive drive to re-impose traditional respect for clergy, according to informed sources in the Catholic Church.
The nine-member team led by two cardinals will be instructed by the Vatican to restore a traditional sense of reverence among ordinary Catholics for their priests, the Irish Independent has learned.
Priests will be told not to question in public official church teaching on controversial issues such as the papal ban on birth control or the admission of divorced Catholics living with new partners to the sacraments -- especially Holy Communion.
Theologians will be expected to teach traditional doctrine by constantly preaching to lay Catholics of attendance at Mass and to return to the practice of regular confession, which has been largely abandoned by adults since the 1960s.
An emphasis will be placed on an evangelisation campaign to overcome the alienation of young people scandalised by the spate of sexual abuse of children and by later cover-ups of paedophile clerics by leaders of the institutional church.
A major thrust of the Vatican investigation will be to counteract materialistic and secularist attitudes, which Pope Benedict believes have led many Irish Catholics to ignore church disciplines and become lax in following devotional practices such as going on pilgrimages and doing penance.
Bishops and priests will be instructed to preach to their congregations the unchanging central message of Jesus Christ about love, healing and repentance.
While the restoration of church discipline and pious practices such as praying to Our Lady and the saints will be welcomed by regular church-goers, the Vatican investigation is likely to face a backlash from liberal Catholics who want more accountability and democracy in church decision-making.
Vatican officials are finalising the precise terms of the instructions for the investigators named last week by Pope Benedict, who initiated an 'Apostolic Visitation' last March in his pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
The investigators are clearing their diaries to visit Ireland's four principal archdioceses, the national seminaries and study centres run by religious orders in the autumn.
In the wake of the shocking Murphy report into clerical child abuse, the conservative Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, will examine the study courses conducted for trainee priests at the national seminaries in St Patrick's College, Maynooth, and the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.
At a meeting held in Maynooth last month, Archbishop Dolan told a gathering of priests "to return to basics" and to ground their ministry in "prayer, humility and a rediscovery of identity".
Archbishop Dolan's address, titled "God is the only treasure people desire to find in a priest", was the high point of the Irish church's celebration of The Year of the Priest, a campaign to encourage vocations to the priesthood.
The hardline address was enthusiastically endorsed by Cardinal Sean Brady, the Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh.
This week, as part of the Vatican's rigorous restoration policy, a widely promoted rally will be staged in Rome to cap what Pope Benedict has called "The Year of the Priest".
Thousands of priests from across the world, including from Ireland, are expected to attend the showcase event which is planned as a major spectacle trumpeting the special status of the priesthood.
- John Cooney
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests