Victims urge Congress to act before papal visit
For immediate release: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015
In September, Pope Francis will address the US Congress, a body that has refused, over decades, to take a single action to investigate or expose clergy sex abuse and cover up by Catholic priests, bishops, nuns, seminarians and brothers.
Abroad, a number of national or regional governments have conducted investigations and issued reports about this continuing crisis, including Ireland, Australia, Canada and Belgium.
In the US, a number of local jurisdictions have done such investigations. They include New York (Westchester County Grand Jury Report, June 19, 2002 and the Suffolk County Grand Jury Report, February 10, 2003), New Hampshire (Attorney General’s Report with investigative archive, March 3, 2003), Maine (Attorney General’s Report, February 24, 2004. See also the attorney general's investigative materials released on May 27, 2005 and July 8, 2005), Boston (Reilly Report and Executive Summary, July 23, 2003), three in Philadelphia, PA (Report of the Grand Jury, September 25, 2003, unsealed September 15, 2005, made public March 29, 2011, another Grand Jury Report, September 15, 2005, and a third, Report of the Grand Jury, dated January 21, 2011, released February 10, 2011).
Non-profits have done investigations, like CRIN, the Child Rights International Network (Child Sexual Abuse and the Holy See: The Need for Justice, Accountability and Reform, January 15, 2014) and Amnesty International.
International bodies have done investigations, like the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See 2/5/14 and Holy See, Second Report 10/22/12 and CRC, List of Issues 7/9/13.) and the Committee Against Torture (Concluding Observations June 17, 2014).
But since the first US pedophile priest made national headlines 30 years ago (Fr. Gilbert Gauthe, Diocese of Lafayette Louisiana), Congress has done virtually nothing.
Individual members of Congress have commented on the crisis. (In 2005, then-Senator Rick Santorum, for instance, cited Boston’s “liberalism” as a cause of the crisis: “When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.")
But as a body, no federal US institution has ever taken action about – or even investigated – this horrific, on-going scandal.
When dozens of baseball players were charged with illegal use of steroids, Congress held hearings. But Congress has held no hearings whatsoever when it comes to the known 6,427 US priests that are credibly accused of sexually assaulting more than 100,000 children. (See BishopAccountability.org)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 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)
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.