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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Victims challenge bragging by Boston archdiocese
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Yesterday, Cardinal O'Malley's spokeswoman bragged about the minimal and long-overdue abuse prevention steps finally taken by the archdiocese after decades of concealing horrific child sex crimes by almost 250 credibly accused child molesting clerics.
This is a good time to recall a 2003 report by a Massachusetts attorney general. His investigation found that archdiocesan leaders "acted with a misguided devotion to secrecy. And they failed to break their code of silence even when the magnitude of what had occurred would have alerted any reasonable, responsible manager that help was needed."
The AG wrote "The archdiocese must end the culture of secrecy that has protected the institution at the expense of children. The archdiocese must adopt a new spirit of openness when it comes to issues related to the protection of children. That includes ... communicating fully with pastors, parishioners, and the public concerning allegations of abuse against priests or church workers ..."
The archdiocese claims it communicates fully about allegations against active priests. But yesterday’s disclosure of 18 names of accused predator priests (whose victims the archdiocese has paid) proves that the archdiocese still conceals highly credible allegations against priests.
It's outrageous for O'Malley's spokeswoman to claim that “There is no organization in the Commonwealth that has done more in recent times to educate and empower children, parents and staff on the terrible and pervasive problem of sexual abuse in our society.”
It's more accurate for the archdiocese to admit that there is no organization in the Commonwealth that has done more for decades to endanger children.
And it’s more honest for the archdiocese to admit “All we do regarding child sexual abuse is what the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ policy requires all dioceses to do – nothing more.”
And “For at least five years, we didn’t even do this. Until very recently, for five years, we failed to meet even the vague, bare minimum standards that all of America’s bishops adopted in 2002.”
That would be more honest and accurate.
It’s simply irresponsible to try to whitewash and minimize the sordid past history and troubling current practices of the Boston church hierarchy regarding children’s safety.
Most agencies and organizations that deal with kids adopted child-safeguards and education efforts decades ago starting in the late 70s. Finally, in 2002, some Catholic officials started to catch up, but largely as a public relations and legal defense strategy.
Many of the steps the hierarchy has taken – in Boston and elsewhere – are deliberate moves to shift attention to clerics who commit crimes and away from bishops who conceal crimes.
And in recent years, the four dioceses in the Commonwealth have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to work to stop reforms of archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly state laws. That speaks volumes about the real intentions of the Massachusetts Catholic hierarchy. While the rest of society works to make exposing child predators easier, top church officials work to keep such disclosures difficult.
Finally, for an institution to claim it's "Number 1" at anything implies it's done a thorough analysis of similar institutions. We challenge O'Malley and his staff to produce evidenced that they have carefully examined the child protection practices of dozens of Massachusetts organizations and found them to be inadequate compared with the Boston archdiocese.
(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, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Abuse lawyer tries to force church’s hand
By Marie Szaniszlo and Colneth Smiley Jr.
Thursday, January 20, 2011 -
Clergy abuse victims and their advocates yesterday called on Cardinal Sean O’Malley to make good on a 2-year-old pledge to release more information about abusive priests.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian released on his Web page the names of 117 priests, deacons and lay members that he claims abused 750 children over half a century, in an effort to force the archdiocese to act.
“The public must know: Where are these pedophiles now?” Garabedian said. “We’ve released their names so that individuals might know who they are living next to.”
Garabedian said all the 117 men — priests, members of religious orders and other church employees — have been named in sexual abuse complaints for which he has obtained settlements or arbitration awards. He said 99 were accused of molesting children within the boundaries of the Boston archdiocese.
“If he (O’Malley) wants to keep children safe, if he wants to get victims healed, we need information,” said Ann Barrett Doyle, of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks abusive priests.
“There is no organization in the Commonwealth that has done more in recent times to educate and empower children, parents and staff on the terrible and pervasive problem of sexual abuse in our society,” countered archdiocesan spokeswoman Kelly Lynch. She said the archdiocese continues to evaluate its policy on disclosing information about “credibly” accused clergy as well as “the serious due-process concerns this presents for those accused.”
Of 19 names previously unreleased names, the 12 identified as Boston clerics are all deceased, Lynch said.
“In each of these 12 cases (as in all cases), law enforcement was notified of the complaint, and the individual who brought forward the allegation was offered support services through our Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach,” Lynch said in an e-mail. “Since all of the new names are deceased men, clearly no child was put at risk because these names were not in the public domain.”
Three of the listed priests remain in good standing, because an archdiocesan review board found the claims against them to be unsubstantiated, Lynch said.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests