The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, October 11, 2010
Statement regarding Voice of the Faithful work history project
Statement by Barbara Blaine – 312 399 4747
We are deeply grateful to the caring Catholics of VOTF for the countless hours they dedicated to this helpful project. Special appreciation and acknowledgement goes to Bob Kopp. He has spearheaded the project and personally spent over a thousand hours on the project as a volunteer.
Bob and the rest of the VOTF folks could give up, walk away, ignore crimes, and tolerate cover ups. Instead, VOTF chooses to stay and fight and expose wrongdoing and safeguard children. We are grateful for all do, especially this monumental project.
Second, we are deeply grateful to every victim of abuse who is here today. Your courage and your compassion are protecting the vulnerable and healing the wounded. You should be proud of yourselves. We are certainly proud of you.
We are especially grateful to the members of African American Advocates of Clergy Sexual Abuse. Every clergy sex abuse victim suffers. But in our experience, the suffering of boys, girls, and adults in minority communities is even more severe. Whether Asian American, Hispanic American or African American, the abuse itself and the recovery from abuse is often more pronounced and painful than for the rest of us. We commend the African American victims for finding the bravery and strength to be part of this project and to expose the truth. Our hearts ache for you and we want to help you in any way we can.
The lessons from this data are clear.
First, child molesting clerics have touched nearly every corner of the Chicago archdiocese. Almost 60% of the parishes have had a publicly accused predator. But the key word is “publicly accused.” History, psychology and common sense tell us there are dozens and dozens of other offending nuns, seminarians, brothers, priests, bishops and lay employees who have molested or are molesting kids now whose identities are not known. And both groups of child molesters – known and unknown – have been at or worked at the 40% of the Chicago parishes that don’t seem to have been affected. They’ve heard confessions during Easter Week, helped with masses over Christmas, substituted for vacationing priests, and attended ordinations and workshops and special events.
Child molesting clerics are assigned to one parish. They aren’t physically chained to one parish. They often seek out and exploit chances to travel elsewhere. And when they molest a child in another parish, the odds that the cleric will be caught or exposed or removed or prosecuted go way down. So no Catholic in the Chicago archdiocese should assume or believe that their family hasn’t been around a child molesting cleric.
Second, the data show that the most vulnerable seem to be the hardest hit. Again, we believe that nearly every Chicagoland parish has been affected, it’s clear that poor parishes and minority parishes have a disproportionately high percentage of problem priests. Anecdotally, we’ve heard and seen this in other places too – that known or suspected predators are sent to communities where kids are less apt to be believed, parents less willing to call the police, law enforcement is less willing to prosecute, and families less likely to call civil attorneys.
It can be a tough assertion to prove. But we believe some data shows this tendency. Other data (like the extent of abuse in Native Alaskan communities or Fr. Daniel McCormack’s promotion in Chicago’s west side neighborhood) merely suggest this tendency.
Finally, what should Chicago citizens and Catholics do with this information? Two requests: First, look for it on line, read it, and send it to others. Go to the website: BishopAccountability.org or our website: SNAPnetwork.org. Second, show some courage and compassion yourselves, and use this information as a reason to ask you loved ones “Did a priest or a nun ever hurt you as a child?”
It’s crucial for family members to ask one another this question. In fact, given how widespread the abuse and cover up have been and are, it’s irresponsible to NOT ask your brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews this simple question: “Did a cleric hurt you as a child?”
Silence protects predators. Silence endangers children. So please don’t be silent. Speak up. Ask questions. Help overcome the paralyzing and devastating impact of secrecy, and make this church and this community safer for all
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests