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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Statement regarding Cardinal Rigali

Statement by Peter Isely of Milwaukee, national board member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com)

Rigali had virtually no choice but to finally act. Kids in Philly are now safer, but only thanks to the combined efforts of police, prosecutors, parishioners and, most important, victims.

He’ll no doubt try to chalk this up to some misunderstanding or miscommunication. But there’s a simple reason that dozens of credibly accused child molesters have recklessly been kept in unsuspecting parishes for years, instead of being promptly suspended. It’s because Rigali and his top aides want it that way. They have taken and still take steps to protect, above all else, themselves, their secrets and their staff, instead of their flock. That’s what two separate Philadelphia grand juries, working with two prosecutors, after two long investigations, found over the last six years.

For the sake of public safety, we wish Rigali had suspended almost all of the 34 credibly accused offending priests three weeks ago, if not sooner. That would have been the prudent move. But he selfishly rejected the advice and findings of an impartial grand jury and an independent prosecutor, turning instead to yet another hand-picked, life-long Catholic lawyer to go through his own files. We have no confidence that she has seen all the secret files that the archdiocese has on its child molesting clerics.

He still hasn’t fired his ruthless defense lawyers and his complicit “victims assistance coordinators”

Throughout this painful process, more victims are coming forward. Sadly, because of Rigali’s callous inaction, some of them will call the church’s so-called “victims assistance coordinators,” the same ones who the grand jurors said mislead victims,” “do not keep victims’ statements confidential,” “hound” victims for statements to “use as ammunition to impeach victims,” “turn over” victims’ statements “to archdiocesan attorneys,” “handed previously confidential” victim’s records “over to one victim’s abuser” We ache for these victims and hope they’ll find the strength to seek out trustworthy, independent sources of help, whether police, prosecutors, therapists, relatives or support groups like ours.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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)

SUMMARY OF PHILADELPHIA GRAND JURY REPORT 2/11

After a detailed two year investigation, here’s what impartial grand jurors found.

The archdiocese
--“continues to engage in practices that mislead victims, that violate their trust, that hinder prosecution of their abusers and that leave large numbers of credibly accused priests in ministry”
--After more than four months, has still not fully complied with the grand jury’s subpoena
--“not much has changed” since a scathing 2005 report by another grand jury
--“has betrayed once again” the victims who report to its staffers

The archdiocesan abuse system
--“designed to help victims is instead helping the abusers and the archdiocese itself”
--“is devoid of common sense”
--“reaches the wrong result in the vast majority of (child sex abuse) cases.”

The “predatory priests still in ministry” (the jury’s words)
--“dozens of apparent abusers remain on duty in the archdiocese today with access to new young prey”
--at least 37 priests with “substantial evidence of abuse” have been kept in assignments that expose them to children”
--at least “41 priests who have remained in active ministry in the past five years after the Archdiocese learned of accusations or reports of their inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse of minors.”
--only two of these 41 have been listed on the Archdiocese’s website as credibly accused, which means the identity of most of these priests remains unknown even to their parishioners.”

The so-called “victims assistance coordinators”
--“mislead victims”
--“do not keep victims’ statements confidential”
--“hound” victims for statements to “use as ammunition to impeach victims”
--“turn over” victims’ statements “to archdiocesan attorneys”
--“handed previously confidential” victim’s records “over to one victim’s abuser”

Msgr. William Lynn (for years, until 2004, a high ranking chancery staffer)
--“put literally thousands of children at risk of sexual abuse by placing them in the care of known child molesters” over the past two decades.”
--“was acutely interested in shielding abusive clergy from criminal detection, in shielding the Cardinal from scandal, and in shielding the Archdiocese from financial liability.”
-- “showed no interest at all in defending the Archdiocese’s children. On the contrary, he consistently endangered them.”
--“knowingly exposed children to predatory priests”
-- “acted as if his job was to protect the abuser, never the abused”
-- his “refusal to curb” two known predators “led directly to the rape of (two boys)”
-- his conduct in “dealing with abusive priests” is “dangerous and indefensible”

(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)


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