Why Letters Matter from Frank Collins
If Pope Francis is to make a real impact on clergy abuse, he will need to have heard from survivors first-hand about what they experienced. In order to help him understand, Dottie Klammer and Frank from Virginia had this great idea: the Pope Blast Project. From February 21-24, the Pope is holding a major summit on abuse, and before that summit begins we are going to make sure he hears from survivors around the world by filling his mailbox with survivor stories. To read more about this idea and why it is important, read the letter from Frank below.
From Frank, a survivor in Virgina:
Fellow SNAP members and SNAP associates,
I want to tell you why I think it’s important to write a letter to the Pope. It’s for the children. It may be too late for those of us who have been abused but it’s not too late for them. We have to keep it from happening to the next generation. It must stop.
I cannot read or write because I am dyslexic, so someone is helping me write this note of encouragement. Take this opportunity to be heard by the head of the Catholic Church. The Pope is someone who can do something to stop this cancer in the Church.
Though I could speak 3 languages (English, German and sign language) as a child I never learned to read or write. The Catholic School System failed me and the Catholic priest affiliated with the school sexually abused me.
Dyslexia was referenced as word blindness as early as 1850, over 100 years before my school experience. I was embarrassed and humiliated all through the “educational process”. The nuns called me stupid. One of my fingers was broken when a nun hit me on the hand for using sign language. I was pushed from grade to grade in school and usually made to sit in the back of the room. I was sent to the priest for help. His help was to sexually abuse me.
We each have a story to tell. Until now, if the Pope has heard our stories they have been filtered through the mouths of others. In our letters some of us may want to go into great detail about how bad it was and how it has affected the rest of our lives. Others may just want him to know that they were hurt and have suffered repercussions. Still others may just want to give the name of their perpetrator and be counted in the masses. If this is to stop, the man at the top has to know how it is and how it was. I summon you, if you don't do this for yourself please do it for the children.
We hope you'll participate in this project! Participation is easy:
- Write a letter – it can be as short or as long as you like, typed or handwritten – explaining what you experienced, why you care about preventing future cases of abuse, or what it is that you want the church to do in February.
- Send your letter to the Pope directly OR send it to the SNAP Office. We will send a massive box of all the letters that we receive to the Vatican. Important! When you send your letter, make sure to send a copy to your state’s attorney general office as well as to the diocese where you were abused.
- Take a selfie or have a friend take a picture of you putting your letter in the mail. Post this picture on facebook, twitter, or any other social network you use with the hashtag #SurvivorsSpeak. Include a personal message to your followers about why this is important to you!
Make your voice heard and send your letter to the Pope today!
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.