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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, May 23, 2011

SNAP statement on Seattle archbishop’s role in Christian Bros. child sex abuse and cover up suits

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)

We are victims who belong to a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.

First, we applaud the dozens of brave men and women who were assaulted as kids by Christian Brothers and who have found the strength and courage to speak up and seek justice. Because of their bravery, kids are safer today. Church officials should commend them. We certainly commend them.

We’re here today to beg Seattle’s archbishop to “aggressively seek out” others hurt by clerics, especially by Christian Brothers. Three weeks ago, allegedly because of clergy sex abuse lawsuits in Seattle, the New York-based Christian Brothers sought bankruptcy protection. By doing so, they effectively are keeping church records about child sex crimes hidden and preventing potentially embarrassing civil trials.

We in SNAP are asking Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain to use his vast resources to help find others who were sexually victimized by Christian Brothers throughout the Seattle area. Based on our 23 years of experience, we firmly believe that others who were hurt by Christian Brothers here are still isolated, afraid, ashamed and in pain. They need and deserve compassionate outreach by powerful church officials who have the wherewithal to make a difference.

We can predict Sartain’s response. He will distance himself and his archdiocese from the Christian Brothers, stressing that the two are separate legal entities. But according to church law, custom and practice, a bishop is responsible for the well-being of all Catholics in his jurisdiction. Because of this, we in SNAP maintain that Sartain has a moral and civic duty to aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes by Christian Brothers. This is especially true, since the archdiocese owns O’Dea High School, where some of the abuse happened, and because the archdiocese has contracted with the Christian Brothers to run the school.

Specifically, we want Sartain post announcements with the names and whereabouts of proven, admitted and credibly accused Christian Brothers child molesters on the archdiocesan website and in parish bulletins. This is especially important, we feel, because a bankruptcy judge will soon set a ‘bar date’ after which those who were molested will likely find it much harder to get any help or justice. We consider such a deadline “arbitrary and unfair” benefitting only Catholic officials.

Sartain can split hairs, make excuses and do little to help. Or he can reach out to the wounded. He can be a caring shepherd, or a cold-hearted CEO. We hope he makes the right choice.

Now, a few words about the Christian Brothers, who sought bankruptcy protection a few weeks ago. First, we are highly skeptical of their claims of claim they’re experiencing financial hardship, Instead, they believe the Chapter 11 filing was intended to ending legal efforts to expose the corruption and complicity of the religious order’s hierarchy.

In our experience If church officials will hide child sex crimes, they’ll certainly hide financial assets. (They were nearly found guilty of doing so in the San Diego diocesan bankruptcy and, more recently, have been accused of doing so in the Milwaukee archdiocesan bankruptcy).

We see no proof that the Christian Brothers are hurting financially. We see no proof that the Christian Brothers have tried to raise money to help clergy sex abuse victims. We see no proof that the Christian Brothers have tried to borrow money to help clergy sex abuse victims (as Cardinal Bernard Law did in Boston).

We believe that the Christian Brothers, like a handful of other Catholic officials, see Chapter 11 as an “easy way out,” enabling those who recruited, educated, ordained, hired, trained and shielded child molesters to avoid scrutiny of their reckless, callous and deceitful actions.

Why do we think this?

First, because the Christian Brothers raced into bankruptcy court just a few months after an important court ruling that gave access to potentially embarrassing secret church records about abuse and cover up, including documents from Rome.

Second, because that is how other church officials have used the Chapter 11 process - to replace civil trials (at which the truth is exposed) with bankruptcy (at which only checks get written).

And third, because virtually no US high ranking Catholic official has faced any real negative consequence for ignoring or concealing child sex crimes. Why? Because nearly all of them have avoided facing tough questions, under oath, in open court, about their complicity in horrific child sex crimes.

Over the past decade, church officials have learned that they won’t suffer no matter how much they end up paying out in abuse settlements. They’ll only suffer if they allow the truth of their own wrongdoing to surface. And bankruptcy court enables them to do that.

So we’re highly skeptical when the Christian Brothers pretend to be poor. We hope attorneys for victims will aggressively seek out all of the Christian Brothers bank accounts, property, bonds, and other assets. And we hope victims and their attorneys will aggressively seek access to long-secret church records and expose those who ignored and concealed child sex crimes. That way, citizens and Catholics will know who is responsible for letting and helping child molesters keep molesting. And that way, others who might ignore or conceal child sex crimes now and in the future may be deterred.

Finally, we hope every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy crimes – by the Christian Brothers or any cleric – will step forward, get help, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing, despite the burdens and pressures caused by this inappropriate and insensitive misused of the bankruptcy process by Catholic officials.

(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