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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, July 13, 2011

SNAP comments in more detail regarding Cloyne findings

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, President of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (+1 312 399 4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)

Below are some of the main points from the Cloyne report (from the Irish Times) and our brief response:

The Vatican was “entirely unhelpful” to any bishop who wanted to implement procedures for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse in the Irish church.
--This should surprise no one. A key reason bishops ignore, minimize and hide child sex crimes is because Vatican officials have largely urged, and sometimes insisted, that they do so.

Bishop Magee "took little or no active interest" in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the framework document on child sexual abuse was agreed by the Irish Bishops' Conference.
--Magee, however, is only a part of the problem. Precious few church employees act any differently than he did. This is not a crisis caused by a few individuals. It’s a crisis because of the long-standing, deeply-rooted and on-going pattern of self-serving secrecy and stunning recklessness by church staff – from top to bottom.

That some child sexual abuse allegations were not reported to gardaí was the diocese’s “greatest failure.”
--Refusal to report child sex crimes – both known and suspected – to law enforcement is the most undeniable sign that Catholic officials simply don’t really care about kids’ safety. These officials know what is right and prudent and moral. But they choose, again and again, to protect their reputations over our children.

There were 15 cases between 1996 and 2005 which “very clearly” should have been reported by the diocese, of which nine were not.
--Even after Irish bishops pledged to report known and suspected child sex crimes to law enforcement, they refused. For a decade, at least one “clear” abuse case was kept from gardai by Catholic officials. This doesn’t even begin to address whether church reports to law enforcement were accurate or timely.

Given the diocese’s knowledge of clerical sexual abuse and its effects on complainants it was wrong of the diocese not to put in place a proper support system for complainants.
--In a few countries, such systems are in place. In Catholic institutions, support for abuse victims is much like guidelines for abuse prevention – implementation is spotty at best and often only comes through intense external pressure from victims, police, prosecutors and the public.

The response of health authorities was “adequate”, but the commission adds it is not convinced the State’s laws and guidelines are sufficiently strong and clear for child protection.
--In almost every nation, secular authorities – especially lawmakers and prosecutors – can and should do more to protect kids and punish those who commit, ignore or conceal child sex crimes. The report is largely complimentary about the role of gardaí, although it does raise concerns about the force’s approach in three cases.

Now is no time for gardaí to be complacent. They too can and should work even harder.

What’s next? We desperately hope that other governments will launch similar investigations into Catholic dioceses. One reason thousands of kids were violated is because secular officials gave too much deference to church officials. So the least secular officials can do now is to help unearth the awful truth of this crisis, in the hopes of preventing similar deceit and wrong doing by others in the future.

(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 (+1-314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (+1-312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (+1-414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (+1-314-862-7688 home, +1-314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com


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