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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, July 13, 2011

SNAP’s plea in light of new Cloyne abuse report

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, USA, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (+1 314 862 7688 home, +1 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

We strongly urge
--citizens and Catholics to read the report,
--law enforcement officials to study it carefully (looking for any possible charges that might be pursued against any possible wrongdoers),
--other governmental bodies to consider launching similar investigations,
--Catholic officials to avoid excuse-making, finger-pointing and minimizing, and
--every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to contact police and prosecutors so that kids will be better protected, victims will be better healed and the long-buried truth will be better understood.

It is tempting, but irresponsible, for citizens and Catholics to turn away from more horror about child rape and cover up. All of us owe it to those already assaulted and those still at risk to at least learn what we can about this on-going crisis. Since truly independent information about clergy sex crimes and cover ups is still remarkably rare, it’s our responsibility to at least read reports like this.

It is also tempting, but irresponsible, for law enforcement officials to assume that archaic laws, insufficient evidence, or the unwillingness of victims/whistleblowers/witnesses to speak out automatically prevents more criminal charges against those who commit, ignore or conceal child sex crimes. We beg police and prosecutors to fight these assumptions. There’s truth in the old saying “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” All across the globe, we are seeing more and more law enforcement officials getting more assertive and creative about pursuing older child sex crimes and cover ups. We beg police and prosecutors to look long and hard at novel approaches to bring criminal cases against wrongdoers identified or implicated in this report.

It is also tempting, but irresponsible, for governmental officials to assume that somehow the Irish Catholic hierarchy is different from the church hierarchy elsewhere. We caution against this comforting but likely wrong-headed view. In our 23 years of working for abuse survivors across the world, we are stunned at the remarkable similarity in how top church managers protect predators, endanger kids, stonewall police, deceive parishioners, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, intimidate victims and put the preservation of their own power and status above the protection of their flock. The only real difference, from nation to nation, seems to be the degree to which bishops are exposed by aggressive prosecutors, brave victims, and relentless investigative journalists. We beg governmental leaders – in Ireland and elsewhere – to launch investigations that will help protect kids, expose wrongdoers and deter wrongdoing.

It is tempting, but even more irresponsible, for church officials to duck, dodge, and deflect the horrors uncovered in this report. It is unseemly and unhealthy to point fingers, shift blame, make excuses and minimize this horror. What law enforcement, or Catholic parents, or church-paid therapists, or other institutions did or did not do is largely irrelevant. Bishops are extraordinarily powerful, well-educated men. They have known for decades that child sexual abuse is wrong, illegal and damaging. Yet they have refused (and many still refuse) to do the most basic moral and civic duty – to call law enforcement about known or suspected devastating child sex crimes. Misguided notions of forgiveness, allegedly unclear guidance from counselors, supposedly vague ‘warning signs’ – none of this excuses, in any way, the consistent, callous and immoral actions – day after day, year after year – taken by bishops to keep child molesting clerics and their heinous crimes hidden from public view.

Finally, it is tempting for each of us who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to do nothing. It is always easier to stay silent and let others carry the burden of exposing the truth, protecting the vulnerable and healing the wounded. However, kids cannot protect themselves and victims shouldn’t have to heal alone. It is wrong to stay silent – the truth should never remain shrouded.

Every person with suspicions or knowledge of clergy sex crimes and cover ups must come forward with that information – no matter how small or old or insignificant it may seem. It is still your civic and moral duty to tell someone – preferably police, prosecutors, therapists, other secular authorities – what you know, have seen, have heard or have suffered. Silence protects only the child molesters and their allies. Silence endorses and encourages more wrongdoing.

(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