Advocate warns on church's silence strategy

BARBARA Blaine launched her advocacy group for clergy sex abuse victims from the walk-in closet in her Chicago bedroom in 1988, with a membership of one. Today she is president of the world's biggest victims' advocacy group, with 12,000 members in 56 countries.

One of the hardest parts of that journey was losing her naivety about the professedly good intentions of the Catholic hierarchy towards victims, which she believes disguised a hostile strategy to silence them.

But the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has brought profound benefits, too. ''One part of healing is tied to preventing future abuse. I'll never know what my life would have been like if I hadn't been raped as a child - I feel helpless. But if we can prevent another 12-year-old being raped we feel we have a mission.''

Ms Blaine came to Melbourne at SNAP's expense to give evidence to the state inquiry into how the churches handled child sex abuse. Her most heartfelt advice was not to take church officials at their word.

Recent inquiries in Ireland and the US demonstrate how promised reform didn't happen, she says. After a Philadelphia grand jury report in 2005 church officials promised many reforms, but a 2011 grand jury found there were 37 predator priests still working in that one diocese.

''It's not like one or two, or even a dozen, which would have been shocking. It showed you couldn't trust church officials because this is how they are directed to behave by the Vatican. It is the practice and policy of church officials across the globe,'' Ms Blaine said.

At the first SNAP gathering in a down-mark...

Read the whole story here...

Showing 2 comments

  • Tom Sadloskos
    commented 2012-11-27 13:37:28 -0600
    Well, there is still plenty of work to do, but at least there is a dim light at the end of the tunnel. The authorities are no longer allowing the Cardinals and Bishops to just get away with assisting in coverups of predator priests.The Catholic Church is destroying itself. They allow predator priests to continue to work in the diocese, what kind of a message does that send? People are not as stupid as they seem to think we are, and this belief that we are will ultimately be their downfall. Their numbers have dropped dramatically, and continue to drop, I don’t beleive there are still a billlion Catholics in the world, after all of this it has to be less. Nationwide they closed or merged almost 50% of the existing parishes. Their excuse is they don’t have enough priests, and that is certainly a part of it, but not enough people attending to warrent the need for all these churches is the main reason, which they don’t seem too interested in talking about. There will always be those people who cling to the church, just stick your head in the sand and pretend none of this is haoppening, thats always easier than facing the truth. I remember one woman saying, “the Catholic church needs us to stand by it now”. The Catholic church needs to stop lying and tell the truth for a change. At this point, I honestly don’t think even a profound change in church policy could turn their situatiion around, who would really trust anything they say? I know I would not.
  • Robert Verhoff
    commented 2012-11-27 12:15:55 -0600
    I follow your articles and the newspaper articles about catholic abuse of children closely. Including Fr. Tom Doyle. I can’t over how the authorities consitantly give the benefit of the doubt to the Cardinals and Bishops. It’s as though “this has never happened before” attitude. These people have a very strong lobby against these innocent children. This Mafia is very strong.
    I couldn’t believe cardinal Dolan hosting that pre-election dinner with Obama and Romney. That sleasy used car salesman laugh he had on his face was to, to nauseating to watch. The laugh of the Devil.
    I was a cradle catholic but have long ago left this evil organisation, even though I live in a 90% catholic county. The people still deny anything is wrong in the church. Total denial. These are the kind of people that need to be battled. Educated, if you can get them to listen.

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant