MA- Victims and supporters blast new pope abuse panel
Victims and supporters blast new pope abuse panel
They're worried it's “mostly public relations”
SNAP: Vulnerable kids need action, not more “study”
A list of 20 “practical prevention steps” will be released
Groups are also highly critical of Boston's Cardinal O'Malley
“Every single bishop should post names of child molesting clerics,” victims say
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will
–blast Pope Francis' new “hand-picked” abuse study panel,
–blast Cardinal Sean O'Malley's track record on the church's continuing abuse crisis, and
–release a list of 20 “practical steps” the pontiff should take now to better protect kids.
They will prod O'Malley to
–stop “fixating” on “internal” church abuse policies,
–start lobbying for improved secular child safety laws, and
–use his clout to prod his brother bishops to permanently post on their church websites the names, photos, whereabouts and work histories of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics (as 30 US prelates have reluctantly done).
Sunday, March 23 at 11:30 a.m.
Outside the Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral, 1400 Washington Street (corner of Monsignor Reynolds Way) in Boston's South End
Six – eight child sex abuse victims and supporters who belong three groups: SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (including a Chicago woman who is the organization's president and founder), NSAC, National Survivors Advocates Coalition and STTOP, Speak Truth To Power.
1) SNAP, NSAC and STTOP say that Catholic officials have dealt with clergy sex crimes for centuries. They believe the pope's new abuse panel is “based on a deceptive premise” and “perpetuates the self-serving myth that Catholic officials need more information about abuse and cover ups. They don't.” Bishops know how to deal with abuse, the groups say, but often “refuse to do what's right” because “they are monarchs and like their power and the status quo more than anything else.”
The Pope already can oust “enablers” or complicit bishops right now, but “hasn't and won't,” group members believe. Specifically, they want Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley to beg Francis to “defrock, demote, discipline or denounce even one of them,” starting with a convicted Missouri bishop “whose recent crimes directly lead to more little girls being sexually assaulted and exploited.” SNAP is also urging O'Malley to push the Pope to extradite an accused child molesting Polish archbishop wanted by law enforcement officials.
The group insists that over the past 20 years, “thousands of lay people, including dozens or hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims, sit on or have sat on church abuse panels” but these panels “have produced little if any real reform” in child sex abuse and cover-up cases.
2) Cardinal Sean O'Malley's handling of clergy sex cases is deeply flawed, SNAP maintains, despite his carefully crafted image and extraordinarily savvy public relations. BishopAccountability.org has painstakingly documented some of his misdeeds here: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/OMalley_Fact_Sheet.htm .
Cardinal O’Malley left off at least 161 names from his published list of accused Boston priests and released that list almost a decade after other bishops began doing so. He has also “cleared” a “disturbingly high” percentage of accused priests – four times the national average. O’Malley's archdiocese has a double standard for employees accused of sexual misconduct: accused priests may remain in place; accused laypeople are suspended immediately. And troubling questions remain about certain accused priests “cleared” by O’Malley (including, in recent years, Fr. Jerome Gillespie, Fr. Thomas Curran, and Fr. James Power). Also, as bishop of Fall River MA, O’Malley was accused by the local prosecutor of concealing offenders’ names until the statute of limitations had expired.
3) Finally, for the safety of kids, SNAP, NSAC and STTOP also want the Pope and every bishop to disclose the identities of all child molesting clerics (proven, admitted and credibly accused) and post their names, photos, whereabouts and work histories permanently on diocesan web pages. Roughly 30 US bishops have taken this step - reluctantly- over the past decade. (O'Malley was one of the last and his list was very incomplete.)
SNAP wants O'Malley to improve his own list and push his colleagues – in the US and in Rome - much harder to do this.