Congressman Asks Department of Justice to Investigate “Hate Crimes” against Catholics while Ignoring Scourge of Sexual Abuse in Catholic Institutions

A congressman from Tennessee has written to the Department of Justice, formally requesting that they get involved in “hate crimes” perpetrated in Catholic churches. We support Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s call for federal intervention in crimes committed on Catholic Church property, but not in the way he is suggesting.

We too believe that the federal government should be involved in investigating, punishing, and preventing crimes that have taken place at Catholic churches nationwide. According to Catholic officials themselves, more than 7% of all clergy have committed sex crimes against children, and secular estimates from sources like grand jury reports place the estimate closer to 10%. Even worse, according to our internal records-keeping, out of the 6,700 known Catholic abusers in the United States, less than 400 have been arrested and convicted of criminal offenses, a ratio of 1 in 17.

The reasons for this low rate of arrest despite the horrific crimes committed is due to two main factors: first, the archaic statute of limitations laws in many states that preclude victims from coming forward and second, the national strategy of the Catholic Church in the United States to minimize, downplay, and cover-up cases of sexual abuse committed by clergy. This is the real crime worth investigating and we firmly believe that the best way to prevent future cases of sexual violence against children and vulnerable adults is for there to be a full investigation of the institutional Catholic Church in the United States, similar to the Royal Commissions that have taken place in countries like Canada and Australia.

Congressman Fleischman refers to the less-than-one-dozen cases of vandalism on church properties as “a disturbing trend, happening in multiple areas across the nation, including within [his] own congressional district.” We hope that Congressman Fleischman is similarly outraged by the cases of sexual abuse and cover-up that have occurred in multiple areas across the nation, including within his own district.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(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)


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  • anthony dawe
    commented 2020-08-08 08:24:03 -0500
    I’ll be demanding Senators Gardner and Bennett do NOT go along with this sextortion on Monday morning.
  • Christian M
    commented 2020-08-07 13:02:36 -0500
    I agree with this report, i do not understand why child abuse is not brought up as much as other issues. Being a victim myself of sex abuse by the church, it feels horrible when society doesn’t take enough action to help me, and others who have been abused. Not enough is being done.

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