Clergy abuse survivors and advocates ready for meeting with newly-announced Vatican ambassador

October 11, 2021 (Joint Press Release E.C.A , Nate's Mission, SNAP)

In an open letter to Vatican ambassador nominee Joe Donnelly, leading survivor-activists and advocacy organizations have requested a meeting to discuss actions and solutions to address the ongoing clergy abuse and coverup crisis. 

In the letter, survivors express hope that Donnelly’s nomination will open up negotiations between US survivors and the Holy See. Donnelly has placed human rights at the top of his agenda in the US relationship with Pope Francis and the Vatican. The rape and abuse of children and its institutional concealment constitute one of the most serious violations of human rights and religious liberty of children in the United States and around the world. Despite the prevalence of ongoing revelations of abuse and coverup across the country, this issue has never been addressed by a US President or State Department even though there is incontrovertible evidence of a relationship between the coverup of these crimes in the United States and Vatican law, policy, and practice. 

Survivors are confident that Donnelly will lead an effective US foreign policy response to the anticipated revelations that will be emerging as investigations by 24 state attorneys general, Democratic and Republican, are expected to be concluded and released during Biden’s first term in office. Like the findings in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, the relationship between the Vatican and the US hierarchy in covering up sex crimes and transferring abusive clergy is likely to emerge. Additionally, survivors are asking to discuss with Donnelly the implementation of full financial transparency in all abuse-related cases, the release of all Vatican-held documents and criminal evidence concerning US abuse cases, and collaboration with Pope Francis to make Zero Tolerance the universal church law. 

Donnelly, a devout Catholic, has been a strong advocate for survivors' participation in addressing and shaping institutional accountability in sports and the military. If confirmed by the Senate, Donnelly has a unique and historic opportunity to bring that accountability to his diplomatic mission with the Holy See. 

In 2018, Donnelly said, “Sexual assault has no place in our society. When it does occur, we should listen to the survivors and work to ensure it never happens again.” Sadly, sexual assault, and especially its coverup, is still occurring in schools and parishes in the United States and around the world. While some progress has been made because of the relentless advocacy of survivors, there is still much that needs to be done. 


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