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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, May 16, 2011

New Vatican child sex abuse guidelines; SNAP responds

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)

Where’s the beef? There’s no enforcement here. There are no penalties for bishops who don’t come up with guidelines or who violate their own guidelines, just like right now, there are no penalties for bishops who ignore or conceal heinous child sex crimes. Until that happens – until top church officials who hide and enable abuse are severely disciplined – top church officials will continue to hide and enable abuse.

Words on paper don’t protect kid. Decisive action protects kids. This isn’t decisive action. This is yet another unenforcible “recommendation” that gives untrustworthy bishops continued power to abuse their power.

There’s no “zero tolerance” or “mandatory reporting” requirement here. There’s no insistence that bishops warn their flock about child molesting clerics. There’s nothing that will make a child safer today or tomorrow or next month or next year.

There is the hint of perhaps glacial “baby steps” to come later, but no assurance that any policy by a single bishop anywhere will, in fact, ever be followed.

To anyone unfamiliar with the church hierarchy’s long-standing secrecy surrounding child sex crimes and cover ups, these “guidelines” may seem decent. To those, however, who realize that, right now, across the world, kids are being molested by priests and crimes are being concealed by bishops, these “guidelines” are woefully inadequate.

“Guidelines” are for people who don’t understand and need education. Bishops, however, are well-educated men with staffs and resources. They understand that child sexual abuse is hurtful and illegal. Most of them, unfortunately, lack the courage to break from centuries of sexual secrecy and take real steps to prevent child sex crimes and oust those who commit and conceal it.

Giving these bishops voluntary “guidelines” is essentially worthless.

Our standard can’t be “what has been.” Our standard must be “what is needed.” We sell out and endanger and hurt kids – and ensure that more of them will be sexually violated – if we content ourselves with vague pledges instead of real reform.

(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 23 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), Joelle Casteix (949 322 7434, jcasteix@gmail.com)

FULL TEXT OF VATICAN DOCUMENT- http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=4218

Statement by David Clohessy, Director of SNAP
Ten reasons the Vatican’s new abuse guidelines will change little

They don’t impact the crux of the crisis: the virtually limitless power of bishops -
Bishops ignore and conceal child sex crimes because they can (because of archaic, predator-friendly laws, the deference of civill authorities, the devout faith and deep confusion of victims). So any “reform” that doesn’t diminish bishops’ power and discretion is virtually meaningless.

They're just "guidelines" -
They aren't binding or mandatory, just suggestions. (Unlike the new rules or "instructions” the Vatican just issued about the Latin mass.)

Such voluntary "guidelines" have been widely ignored for years in the past -
A notable example: throughout the 1990s, US bishops almost entirely ignored their own similar voluntary guidelines on abuse (adopted in 1993)

The “guidelines” won't even require bishops to call police when they know of or suspect child sex crimes -
This is, perhaps, the single most effective step a bishop can take to protect kids.

In the handful of nations with allegedly mandatory church abuse policies, those policies are unenforced -
For instance, the 2002 US policy, which is supposedly "church law," is increasingly being violated (especially the provisions around "transparency") with no consequences whatsoever to the wrongdoers.
The most egregious recent example is of course the Philadelphia archdiocese, which, according to prosecutors and grand jurors, kept dozens of credibly accused predator priests in ministry for years until just two months ago.

Even if Benedict wanted to enforce the guidelines, the church STRUCTURE is a huge obstacle -
he allegedly oversees 4,400 bishops across the planet, an inherently unworkable structure

Even if Benedict wanted to enforce the guidelines, the church CULTURE is a huge obstacle -
centuries of self-serving secrecy can't be easily reversed. . .look at how powerful prelates like Sodano protected Maciel for so long

Few, if any, church officials are apparently pushing for real reform -
if there were a vocal contingent, however small, of bishops who were strongly advocating truly effective prevention measures, some Vatican officials might feel some pressure to compromise with them. But there evidently, is no cadre of truly brave, outspoken bishops

Wrongdoers keep being promoted and whistleblowers keep being ostracized, so why would more vague words on paper bring any change in how bishops deal with abuse and cover up -
Bishops like Martin in Ireland, Robinson in Australia and Gumbleton in the US are increasingly isolated by their peers while prelates like Law and Rigali are tolerated and even promoted. (Just last month, Benedict tapped America's most widely-discredited prelate, Rigali of Philadelphia, to be the Pope's special representative at a big church celebration in the Czech Republic next month.) In the US, a number of highly controversial and compromised church officials - Coyne from Boston, Cistone from Philadelphia, Gomez from San Antonio) have been recently elevated by Pope Benedict.

They're a very belated move -
Top church staff have known of clergy sex crimes and cover ups for decades, if not centuries.

They're a very begrudging move -
The guidelines are being written now only because the crisis has reached the Pope's doorstep (due to investigative reporting on his own role concealing cases and due to increasing numbers and success of civil lawsuits).

(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 23 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