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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, December 6, 2010

SNAP blasts Cardinal Burke’s view of abuse crisis

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Cardinal Raymond Burke’s recent comments about the church’s ongoing clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis are hurtful, not helpful. They encourage complacency, not vigilance. And they are deceptive. Let’s look specifically at three comments he made:

1) “most of the cases are older. They haven’t happened in the last, let’s say, 10 or even 20 years.”
-- there always has been & will be a long lag time between when victims are hurt and when they disclose. So at best, it’s disingenuous and naïve to assume the rate of clergy sex crimes is going down. At worst, it’s reckless and deceptive. Only time will tell. There’s just too little data now.
-- The Vatican could, of course, collect such data but doesn’t. (There’s a good starting point for Benedict: just start compiling world-wise numbers on abusive priests. . . )
-- Four percent of the world’s Catholics are in the US. The US, as best we can tell, is the only nation in which Catholic bishops have adopted a zero tolerance policy. (Never mind that it’s followed only sporadically – at least it exists on paper though.) So in 96% of the world, Catholic bishops haven’t even pledged to oust child molesting clerics (much less do background checks, train folks, etc.) Given this, how can Burke possibly claim clergy sex crimes “haven’t happened in the last, let’s say, 10 or even 20 years.”
-- For what it’s worth, roughly once every other week we hear from/about a current or very recent clergy child sex abuse case in the US. . .

2) “I always had a sense as a bishop that I needed to be ever more vigilant in the matter and never take for granted that this couldn’t happen again, and therefore tried to make sure that I was a good sentinel, a good guard watching the situation and taking appropriate action
--Burke’s track record on abuse, in Wisconsin and Missouri, was awful.

http://snapmidwest.org/htm/UnderBurke.htm

3) “speaking about myself, the bishops I know in the United States and as I know the situation in general, I believe that every prudent measure has been taken to address this evil so that it doesn’t happen again.”
--US bishops have done little of substance, plenty of PR & tinkering around the edges but almost nothing that attacks the roots of the crisis. Consider just one story about how one US archbishop has handled four recent cases that ran yesterday: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/12/newark_archbishop_shielded_at.html

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 10,000 members. 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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

From Rome, new words on the clergy abuse crisis December 1st, 2010

On Nov. 19, the eve of the third cardinals’ assembly of his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI, 150 cardinals and 24 cardinals-designate met to discuss five issues affecting the global church, including the abuse crisis. Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the Vatican is preparing a document for all bishops’ conferences offering guidelines for a “coordinated and effective program” of child protection and for dealing with allegations of clerical sexual abuse. The cardinal “made some observations about the greater responsibility of bishops for safeguarding the faithful entrusted to them,” said a Vatican statement issued after the meeting.

The statement said bishops should be “inspired by the words” of Pope Benedict and the way he has listened to victims of sexual abuse during his meetings with them.

Cardinal Levada also spoke about “collaboration with civil authorities and the need for an effective commitment to protecting children and young people and for an attentive selection and formation of future priests and religious,” the statement said.

While the cardinals were meeting at the Vatican, a small group of clerical sex abuse victims met with reporters in Rome and called on the church to take further action, including releasing the names of all accused priests around the world.

Also on Nov. 19, Vatican Radio interviewed one of the cardinals-designate, U.S. Archbishop Raymond Burke, about the abuse crisis and other topics. The prelate was asked if he thinks the Church has done enough to address the problem and prevent future cases.

“In one sense you can say absolutely you could never do enough to prevent such horrible things happening – the most grievous breach of a trust between a priest, a spiritual father, and a child,” he said. “I always had a sense as a bishop that I needed to be ever more vigilant in the matter and never take for granted that this couldn’t happen again, and therefore tried to make sure that I was a good sentinel, a good guard watching the situation and taking appropriate action On the other hand, I have to say, and I’m speaking about myself, the bishops I know in the United States and as I know the situation in general, I believe that every prudent measure has been taken to address this evil so that it doesn’t happen again. As a matter of fact most of the cases are older. They haven’t happened in the last, let’s say, 10 or even 20 years. At the same time I’ve tried to provide help for those who come forward to say that they have been a victim of sexual abuse by a priest. The work continues but I believe that a tremendous lot of progress has been made.

Rome-based journalist Sandro Magister, is his column at chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it, wrote a Nov. 20 opinion piece titled “Pedophilia. The Doubts of the Cardinals Over ‘Zero Tolerance.’”

“In a country like the United States of America, the transition has been made from a phase of permissiveness in dealing with the phenomenon of pedophilia, in both the civil and ecclesiastical camps, to a phase of generalized ‘zero tolerance,’ Puritan in spirit,” Magister concluded.

“Something similar has happened in the Church. The phenomenon of pedophilia is perceived more and more as a state of emergency. To which it is believed necessary to react with a system that is also emergency in nature, as rapid and expedited as possible.

“An emergency system should be lifted once the critical phase has been passed. But this result seems a long way off, in the case of pedophilia.

“In short, this was the legal background to the discussion between the cardinals and Pope Benedict on “the response of the Church to cases of sexual abuse,” yesterday, Nov. 19, the vigil of the third consistory of this pontificate.

“There is reason to believe that this discussion will continue.”

Also on Nov. 20, the depth of the pope’s grief over the abuse crisis, and the complexity of its causes and of the response to it, came to light when the Vatican newspaper published excerpts from journalist Peter Seewald’s book-length interview, “Light of the World.”

Seewald asked: “It is not only the abuse that is upsetting, it is also the way of dealing with it. The deeds themselves were hushed up and kept secret for decades. That is a declaration of bankruptcy for an institution that has love written on its banner.”

The pope replied: “The Archbishop of Dublin told me something very interesting about that. He said that ecclesiastical penal law functioned until the late 1950s; admittedly it was not perfect –there is much to criticize about it – but nevertheless it was applied. After the mid-1960s, however, it was simply not applied any more. The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.

“Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate.”\

– Compiled by Catholic San Francisco.


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