We are clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
We have four messages today.
First, to this family and other families who have been terribly hurt and betrayed by a sick Catholic priest and callous church officials: We are very sorry for the suffering you are enduring. These crimes should never have happened. They shouldn’t have been hidden for so long. And those responsible shouldn’t continue to get away for their devastating recklessness.
We commend you for your courage. We hope you’ll continue to work hard to heal. And we’ll help in any way that we can.
Second, to anyone who with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes and cover ups in KC: Time is running out. One prosecutor is done with the diocese. Another one could be done at any time. So if you saw, suspected or suffered clergy misdeeds – with adults, with kids, with finances – now is the time to come forward, speak up, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing.
One of the best ways to protect the vulnerable is to prosecute those who commit and conceal devastating crimes against kids. And the best ways to prosecute them is with more information, not less. So it’s crucial that if you suspect or know anything that might be helpful to prosecutors, you have a moral and civic duty to act now.
If you have something to share, but are reluctant to contact law enforcement, contact us. We’ll protect your privacy. And we’ll make sure that your information gets into the right hands. Do not, we beg you, contact church officials. When information about child sex crimes and cover ups is given to Catholic employees, the chances increase that victims will be intimidated, witnesses will be discredited, whistleblowers will be threatened, evidence will be destroyed, alibis will be fabricated and wrongdoers will quietly flee or be transferred.
Share your knowledge with trustworthy, independent sources of help. And do it now, before it’s too late.
Third, to the Clay County prosecutor: You blew it. You are naïve. Your sweetheart deal with KC Bishop Robert Finn may seem like “half a loaf” to you. It feels like a bitter placebo to us.
It does nothing to expose the reckless on-going cover up of clergy sex crimes.
It holds none of the other complicit church officials responsible
It relies on Finn’s voluntarily sharing of information.
It does little to deter future deceit and wrongdoing by the diocese.
Your claim that these are “good people” who had “difficulty making good choices” is pathetic. Your claim that this will be “a learning experience” for Finn is laughable.
Finn’s not stupid. He’s well-educated. So are his advisors, his lawyers, and his public relations staff. They knew exactly what they were doing when they hid Fr. Ratigan’s crimes, kept Fr. Tierney in ministry (despite multiple allegations), deceived parishioners and even other priests. They were protecting themselves and their reputations instead of protecting kids. They were gambling that they wouldn’t get caught. And they believed that, if they were caught, powerful figures would cut them some slack, assume they had honorable motives, and show them considerable deference.
Tragically, you have proven to them that their gamble was worth taking. You may have done what’s politically smart. But you have sold children short.
Finally, to Jackson County prosecutor: Please don’t wimp out. Thanks for not initially making a sweetheart plea with Finn. Now more than ever, please resist the temptation to do so. Please use your powers to uncover the still-hidden truths about corruption and complicity by several top church staffers. And please insist on a trial or a jail sentence for Finn. This is the best way to expose the diocesan cover up and deter future cover ups.