SNAP calls for the USCCB to end lobbying against statutes of limitations reform, urge independent investigations, and hold Bishops accountable
Survivors of clergy abuse demand accountability as US Bishops gather in Baltimore
Nearly one third of active Bishops have mishandled abuse allegations, report shows
“Bishops must be made to answer for their role in this crisis,” SNAP says
SNAP says bishops should stop lobbying against statutes of limitations reform and should actively invite independent investigations
WHAT: Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters will gather outside the annual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to demand that group take specific steps to ensure accountability for all Church officials who covered up clergy sex crimes.
WHO: Several members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a support and advocacy group for victims of institutional sexual violence.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 11 AM
WHERE: Outside Baltimore Waterfront Marriott, 700 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD.
WHY: As US Bishops gather in Baltimore for their annual meeting, recent revelations into the clergy sex abuse crisis in the United States have called into question their leadership. According to a recent joint report by the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer, nearly one-third of active bishops have been accused of failing to properly address claims of sexual misconduct in their dioceses.
“Children, parishioners, and citizens deserve better than what the USCCB has done so far,” said Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member and local leader in Virginia and Washington DC. “This week, Bishops have a chance to show that they are taking their role in this crisis seriously, and we have three suggestion for steps they can take to protect children and prevent abuse.”
SNAP is asking bishops to take these clear steps to better insure accountability for Bishops, restore public confidence in the Church, and to prevent future cases of abuse:
- Cease any and all lobbying efforts against statues of limitations reform and instead actively support the opening of civil windows to give survivors a chance at their day in court;
- Publicly release and publish the names of all church staff – including priests, nuns, deacons, and all others who work in their parishes and schools – who have been accused of abuse; and
- Petition their state’s attorney general to open an investigation into Church files and personnel records to ensure that all allegations have been made public, and that there are no active priests in ministry or near children that have been accused of abuse.
Given the recent examples in Buffalo and Washington DC of bishops releasing lists of accused priests, only for those lists to later to be shown to be woefully incomplete, SNAP believes that only independent investigations by outside law enforcement can ferret out the true extent of the abuse crisis.
“These are simple tasks that every Bishop should take immediately to show parishioners and the public that they are serious about getting to the bottom of this crisis,” said Ianni. “No institution can police itself and the only proper way to conduct a real investigation is through outside, independent law enforcement officials.”
In addition to asking the USCCB to take these three steps, they are also calling on the body to determine a better way to find and punish bishops who have been complicit in concealing abuse.
One of those bishops is Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the current Archbishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston and the head of the USCCB. Despite being a vocal critic of the way that Church officials have handled sexual abuse in the past, the Cardinal played a role in the cover-up of sex crimes committed by Fr. Jerome Coyle, a serial abuser in the Diocese of Sioux City, where he was Bishop before going to Galveston-Houston. Similarly, Cardinal DiNardo hid allegations against Fr. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, a priest who was left in ministry despite multiple allegations of abuse.
Given the Cardinal’s failures, SNAP is calling for his resignation as head of the USCCB and is also urging the USCCB to take steps to determine which Bishops have been involved in cover-ups and to remove them from their posts.
“If the head of the USCCB has been involved in covering up cases of abuse, how can we count on the assembly to properly deal with cases of sexual misconduct in the future? Reform must happen now and it must happen this week,” said Ianni.
(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)
CONTACT : Becky Ianni, SNAP Treasurer, Local DC/VA SNAP leader (SNAPvirginia@cox.net, (703) 801-6044), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Secretary (925-708-6175), Peter Isely, US Spokesperson, Ending Clergy Abuse (email@example.com)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.