Bishops seek self-serving investigations under the guise of "transparency"
For immediate release, August 27, 2018
For more information: Melanie Sakoda, Secretary, 925-708-6175 firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, Missouri, announced that he would voluntarily provide the state attorney general's office with documents concerning the sexual abuse of children in his archdiocese. He cleverly enlisted the support of MO Attorney General Josh Hawley.
Similarly, the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau is making plans to launch an "independent inquiry" into child sexual abuse in that diocese. The "independent" investigator has not yet been identified.
It appears possible that this tactic may be reproduced across the country as Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley called on all US dioceses to turn over personnel records to law enforcement when asked.
However, all these alternative plans suggested by the bishops fall far short. Pennsylvania's grand jury report on six Catholic dioceses established the bench mark for all other state attorneys general to follow.
The grand jury has the power to subpoena documents and to compel current and former Church officials and staff to answer tough questions under oath. It also invited testimony from survivors, some victims from crimes decades ago, some who the church hierarchy dismissed or did not believe.
What made that Pennsylvania report so valuable was that it did not solely rely on information provided by church officials. As a result, we got much closer to a true understanding of the scope of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report exposed decades of deliberate concealment of child sex abuse by the Church and revealed the existence of previously "hidden predators." The report demonstrated quite convincingly that we cannot allow the Church to investigate itself. Any probe that does less than what occurred in the Keystone State is simply a sham and a whitewash hiding behind a facade of “investigation” and "transparency."
SNAP urges everyone who suffered, witnessed or suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to come forward. Report to law enforcement, therapists and support groups like ours, not to the Church. We also urge everyone to prod your local AG to launch an investigation just like the on-going one in Pennsylvania, and also join us in demanding a federal investigation like those that have been implemented in other countries.
We urge everyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups to come forward, but call independent sources of support - police, prosecutors, therapists and support groups, not church-hired individuals.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been working for thirty years to support victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)