Church officials cannot lead child protection movement

For immediate release Wednesday, February 28

Statement by Barbara Dorris, Executive Director for SNAP  314-503-0003 [email protected]

Claire Giangravè, “Papal adviser on sex abuse wants Church to offer experience to the world”

We at SNAP have heard a lot over the years about how church officials need to listen to abuse survivors. We’ve heard repeatedly about how new consultative bodies like the Vatican commission set up by Pope Francis to advise him about abuse in would amplify survivors’ voices. The talk, which recycles itself over and over with very little action to match it, sounds nice.


But it repeatedly leads nowhere. The “2.0 phase” of the advisory commission – which was formed because several leading survivors on the 1.0 phase of the commission resigned because they felt the voices of survivors were not being heard – is now proceeding as if the idea of listening to survivors is a whole new discovery the church has just made.

We at SNAP have news for the “2.0 phase” of the advisory commission: we’ve been talking about the imperative need for church officials to listen to survivors for years. This is not a new idea. 

Nor is it a new idea for church officials to set up “advisory commissions” about abuse issues that go nowhere, because nothing they tell church officials makes any difference in how church officials keep acting when it comes to handling abuse cases. The pretty rhetoric and the rinse-repeat approach that the church keeps offering us with advisory commissions is obviously designed, it seems to us, to thwart action and to thwart survivors’ voices – not to make a dent in the abuse problem in the church.

Our advice? Ditch the game-playing and start doing something. If you want to listen to survivors, start listening to survivors. Don’t set up commissions that fall apart because the survivors on these commissions were not heard, and the commissions were not encouraged to have open channels of communications with the ever-growing community of abuse survivors throughout the world. 

Don’t set up “listening” commissions that church officials like Pope Francis don’t even attend. How is listening even possible under such circumstances? How can anyone listen when they are not even in the room to hear what is said?

Stop the games. Stop the diversionary tactics. Stop the pretty words. Stop the constant invention of new commissions and advisory groups.

Do something. Children’s lives are at risk.


(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is


Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175[email protected]), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434[email protected]), or Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003[email protected])

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant