Archbishop Cordileone Should Focus on the Problems within His Own See
San Francisco’s top Catholic official yesterday issued a statement criticizing the Speaker of the House, using their shared faith to push his policy agenda. Rather than attempt to lobby elected officials, we believe this prelate should focus on the problems within his own Archdiocese.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a devout, practicing Catholic. As such, under Church doctrine, she is technically subservient to her Archbishop. It appears to us that San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is tacitly ordering the Speaker to adhere to Church doctrine in her political role as one of our nation's most powerful lawmakers. What if she does not heed the Archbishop? Well, he could conceivably move to excommunicate her. That is a very real threat that we view as completely inappropriate, given Archbishop Cordileone's personal and professional shortcomings.
We call on Speaker Pelosi to resist the Archbishop's edict. In fact, we believe that instead she and all members of Congress should consider holding Archbishop Cordileone and his peers accountable for the actions of the Catholic Church, and the Archbishop in particular for his personal refusal to be transparent.
Where is the list of abusers from the San Francisco Archdiocese? The Archbishop is one of only a dozen prelates in the United States who have so far refused to come clean. We believe that until Archbishop Cordileone does the bare minimum to support survivors, he has lost any moral high ground to give orders to members of Congress.
Archbishop Cordileone cites a 1900-year-old example in his admonishment of House Speaker Pelosi. We have a counterexample for the Archbishop: Matthew 18:6.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
We are confident that the Archbishop agrees that sexually abusing a child is offensive according to the tenets of his religion. But how many millstones litter the sea around San Francisco? No one knows because this Archbishop refuses to tell us.
What we do know from various studies is that 40% of all Catholic clergy sexual abusers since 1950 are alive, and 95% of those are not monitored. We also know that each perpetrator averages over a dozen victims. We know that in the last three years at least 100 priests have been arrested for abusing children. And we know that almost every week a new name is disclosed someplace in this country.
Already in 2021, at least 8 new abuser names have been added to the over 7,000 already documented on BishopsAccountability.org. SNAP believes the San Francisco list, if it is ever published, either voluntarily or as a result of a secular investigation, would include over 200 perpetrators associated just with this one Archdiocese.
We feel strongly that Speaker Pelosi and all of her colleagues in Congress need to resist lobbying from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops or any of its members. Instead, our federal government should be using its authority to force complete transparency from these hierarchs, who all lead tax-free entities, so that society can be made safer, prevention methods can be improved, and some form of comprehensive, restorative justice can be shaped that honors and supports the victims of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(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)