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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, December 20, 2010
Belgian SNAP leader responds to latest papal abuse remarks
Statement by Lieve Halsberghe, SNAP Belgium Leader, +32 475 910 918 SNAPBelgium@gmaiol.com
The Pope’s latest remarks on abuse represent a step backward. In earlier comments, he at least vaguely alluded to the complicity of top church officials. Now, he’s back to claiming the crisis is about “sins of priests.” It’s not. It’s about corrupt bishops, who have enabled, and still enable, predator priests to sexually violate kids.
One commentator called the papal comments “Benedict's longest reflection to date by voice on clergy sex-abuse.” So what? We don’t need more words from the Pope. We need effective action from the Pope.
Some of the Pope’s defenders claim he’s made defrocking pedophile priests somewhat easier. But just days ago, other news accounts documented that it took the Vatican:
So much for the alleged ‘progress’ made under Pope Benedict.
Benedict claims “We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility.” We’re not so sure that he is. How could he understand the “gravity” and his “responsibility,” yet remain so passive and refuse to take even the most simple steps to stop future abuse?
(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, Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Pope calls on Catholic church to 'repair injustice' of sexual abuse
Pontiff also blames child abuse scandal on child pornography, sexual tourism and moral relativism of 1970s
Pope Benedict XVI today called on the Roman Catholic church to reflect on how sexual abuse exploded within its ranks in a Christmas speech.
But the pontiff also blamed the scandal on child pornography, sexual tourism and the moral relativism of the 1970s.
In his eagerly awaited speech to bishops and cardinals, Benedict rounded up the highlights of his year, briefly mentioning his visits to Malta, Spain and Portugal before dwelling at length on his "unforgettable" visit to England and Scotland.
He started his roundup, in the Sala Regia of the Vatican's apostolic palace, by tackling the "unimaginable" wave of revelations of sexually abusive priests in Europe and the US, who "profoundly wound people in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime".
"We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred," he said. "We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life."
Benedict has been challenged on his record of tackling abuse while he was the Archbishop of Munich and the head of the Vatican office dealing with abuse cases.
The Pope likened today's church to the beautiful woman covered in dust and wearing a torn dress who was seen in a vision by the 12th century German saint Hildegard.
But in his festive speech – which he traditionally uses to impart key messages to senior Vatican figures – he insisted the abuse scandal should be placed in a wider social context.
"We cannot remain silent about the context of these times in which these events have come to light," he said, citing child pornography, "that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society."
Sexual tourism in the third world was "threatening an entire generation", he added.
Returning to a theme he had discussed in the past, Benedict said the modern world's moral relativism was at fault.
"In the 1970s, paedophilia was seen as a natural thing for men and children," he said, arguing that the Catholic church had the task of taking on and defeating relativism.
Roberto Mirabile, the head of Italian anti-paedophilia campaign group La Caramella Buona, said: "When Benedict puts priestly abuse in this context, it sounds like he is trying to justify it.
"I appreciate the pope's willingness to crack down, but I still don't see this great commitment within the Vatican to shed light on a problem which is ongoing."
Mirabile said he was currently awaiting responses from the Vatican overly newly-emerging cases of abuse in Italy.
Benedict said the church's insistence on irrefutable religious truths over relativism had driven the conversion to Catholicism of the 19th century theologian John Henry Newman, who was beatified by the pontiff during his visit to England in September.
Skirting over his other foreign trips this year, the Pope singled out his speech at Westminster Hall, in London, given in front of four former prime ministers, parliamentarians and religious leaders, and claimed that the church had a role in reinforcing the moral values – currently "at risk" – that underpin modern democracy.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests