Survivors of Clergy Abuse Demand Accountability as US Bishops Gather in Baltimore

Survivors of Clergy Abuse Demand Accountability as US Bishops Gather in Baltimore

They Call For an Expansion of Pope Francis’ ‘Mandated Reporting’ Edict

“It is time for the church to welcome secular investigations,” SNAP says

 

WHAT: Holding signs at a sidewalk news conference, survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters will gather during the June meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to demand specific steps be taken to ensure accountability from all Church officials who have played roles in clergy sex crimes and cover-ups.

WHO: Several members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a support and advocacy group for victims of institutional sexual violence, including Becky Ianni, longtime Virginia and D.C. area leader and SNAP board member, as well as Peter Isely, longtime SNAP leader and Founder and Spokesperson for Ending Clergy Abuse Global.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 11 at 12:30pm

WHERE: Outside 700 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore

WHY: As U.S. Bishops gather in Baltimore for the June General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), clergy sex abuse survivors and their supporters are outlining four specific steps they want the body to take as they seek to address the growing Catholic sex abuse scandal.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, have laid out the following priorities:

  1. The USCCB should build off Pope Francis’ recent edict – which makes all Church staff mandated reporters of abuse – and should make their own requirement that all Church staff must report their suspicions to secular police and prosecutors FIRST, before reporting internally.  The directive should be prominently displayed on all website and in any printed material. SNAP recommends that this requirement take the place of the proposed national hotline for sexual abuse.  
  2. The bishops should also mandate that, by the end of the year, every single diocese release a list of all priests and deacons, whether diocesan, extern or order, as well as nuns, brothers, and Church employees or volunteers who have been accused of sex crimes against children or vulnerable adults. Despite this process beginning more than 17 years ago, to date at least 50 dioceses and archdioceses have yet to release any list, and as far as we can tell, none include all of these categories.
  3. The USCCB should agree to cease any and all efforts – whether directly by dioceses or by Catholic Church-affiliated groups – to lobby against statute of limitations reform. The Church has successfully undercut this needed legislation in places like Pennsylvania and South Dakota to the detriment of survivors, parents, and children.
  4. Finally, the bishops can and should turn personnel records, sex abuse files, “secret archives” and “bishop’s archives” over to their state attorney general for investigation. So far, 20 states have begun investigations of clergy abuse and with support from the bishops themselves, that number could climb to 50 by the end of the year.

“Pope Francis’ new rules for mandated reporting are a step in the right direction, but internal reporting alone doesn’t work,” said Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member and local leader in Virginia and Washington D.C. “Bishops should build off of Pope Francis’ first step by not only requiring all Church staff to report to secular law enforcement FIRST, but also by going further and taking the additional steps outlined above that will help to protect the vulnerable and to encourage survivor healing.”

The group is planning other events during the USCCB’s meeting, including a public reading of stories from survivors of abuse, to which the group has invited Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and other bishops.

 

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member (703-801-6044, SNAPvirginia@cox.net), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org), Tim Lennon, SNAP President (415-312-5820, tlennon@snapnetwork.org)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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