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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Friday, June 11, 2010

Victims respond: Pope fails to take action

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago IL (USA), president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Forgiveness comes after, not during, a crisis. Right now, kids are being assaulted by priests and bishops are concealing the crimes. And the Pope continues taking no action to stop this.

The Pope still ignores the crux of the crisis – the on-going recklessness, deceit and callousness of bishops who, even now, protect predators instead of children.

Some speculated that the Pope would, this week, announce a global church abuse policy. He didn’t. He isn’t even promising one.

He did, however, make an oblique exhortation to “do everything possible” to stop abuse. But real “carrots” and “sticks” alter behavior. Substantive structural and cultural change alters behavior. Vague, one sentence pledges don’t.

A promise is nominally more helpful than an apology. But promises are usually easy to make, hard to keep, and broken often if there's no oversight or penalties. That's especially true in a monarchy with no checks and balances or real accountability mechanisms. And that's why such pledges by bishops to “do more,” even now, in the US and elsewhere, are so frequently ignored.

In our 22 years of experience, we have learned four steps actually safeguard kids: exposing child predators, punishing complicit wrong-doers, launching independent investigations and reforming secular laws. Bishops’ pledges – whether informal and verbal or formal and written - often don’t actually lead to any progress like this.

We show what’s important to us, in part, by who we reward and who we punish. When clearly complicit men like Cardinal Bernard Law are essentially rewarded and promoted, it’s clear that recklessness, callousness and deceit are important. When brave whistleblowers like Fr. Tom Doyle are punished and demoted, it’s clear that courage and truth-telling are not important.

Fundamentally, this is more a crisis of church structure and culture than of church managers and employees. Any church promises of action on abuse and cover up are inherently problematic because of the church’s ancient, unhealthy monarchical structure and culture. One man (the Pope) allegedly supervises some 5,000 top managers (bishops) spread across the globe. That’s just unworkable. So, in practice, each bishop is the lord of his own kingdom, answerable to virtually no one. So each bishop can basically do almost whatever he likes with child-molesting-clerics and deeply-hurting-victims, and virtually never face scrutiny or discipline for even the most egregious wrong-doing. (Remember, no bishop has ever been fired, defrocked, excommunicated or even publicly excoriated by the Vatican for ignoring or hiding dozens or even hundreds of predator priests. In history, fewer than ten bishops have resigned because they’ve ignored or concealed child sex crimes.)

The root cause of this horrific and on-going clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis remains the nearly limitless power of bishops.

The real solution to the scandal must therefore involve reducing the power of bishops, and increasing the power of secular authorities to safeguard children. This should involve three parts.
--First, independent, thorough investigations into the extent of cover ups of clergy sexual abuse in each Catholic entity – dioceses, schools, and religious orders. (Only when a crisis is understood can it then be effectively addressed.)
--Second, aggressive and creative use of existing laws to criminally pursue child molesting clerics and their complicit colleagues and supervisors.
--Third, eliminating or reforming predator-friendly laws that give child sex offenders and their enablers incentive to destroy evidence, threaten witnesses, intimidate victims, fabricate alibis, and flee the country.

Still, no matter what secular officials do or don’t do, the ancient, rigid, secretive, self-serving and all-male church hierarchy can, and must, take steps to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded, expose the truth and deter future recklessness, callousness and deceit.

There must be a world-wide Catholic policy against clergy sex crimes and cover ups that is widely enforced. And we still don’t have it.

Statement by David Clohessy of St Louis, (USA) Executive Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790)

The Pope passed up a perfect chance to
--- announce bold steps that actually safeguard children,
--- urge thousands of priests to call police if they see or suspect or learn of child sex crimes, and
--- acknowledge and thank the few, brave whistleblower priests like Fr. Thomas Doyle, Fr. James Scahill and others who have found the strength, courage and compassion to expose their corrupt, predatory colleagues and supervisors.

Every day that the Pope refuses to take decisive action to protect kids is heartbreaking. Every time he tries to minimize the ongoing clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis, by using phrases like "secondary scandal," it's hurtful to victims, children and many Catholics. Every time he suggests that decades of concealing crimes are mere "insufficiencies," he digs the church deeper into an already cavernous, unhealthy, and depressing hole.

FOR INTERVIEWS

In Rome:
--- Three SNAP leaders are at the Hotel Cicerone, Via Cicerone 55, 00193 (tel +39 06 35.76). They are Joelle Casteix 338-456-7942 (Italian cell) jcasteix@gmail.com, Peter Isely 338-456-7879 (Italian cell), and Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003 snapdorris@gmail.com

In the US:
--- David Clohessy is at 314 566 9790 (cell), 314 645 5915 (home), SNAPclohessy@aol.com
--- Barbara Blaine is at 312 399 4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com
--- Dozens of other clergy sex abuse victims who belong to SNAP are listed on our website: SNAPnetwork.org under the button “Contact SNAP”

(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)


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