MD--US bishops meet; despite papal pledges, they don’t discuss abuse
For immediate release: Monday, Nov. 16, 2015
There’s irony and tragedy today as the Washington DC-based US Conference of Catholic Bishops holds its annual meeting in Baltimore.
It’s ironic because, today, a former Washington DC priest who’d already served prison time for assaulting young men pled guilty to child pornography.
And it’s tragic because, as best we can tell, the bishops apparently won’t even talk about – much less take action on – the church’s continuing abuse and cover up crisis.
This is tragic because just a few months ago, during his first visit to the US, Pope Francis got many people’s hopes up by making strong promises, including that “abuse cannot be kept secret any longer,” “all responsible will be held accountable," and that church officials will provide "careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected.”
He has also said "Everything possible must be done to rid the church of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors and to open pathways of reconciliation and healing for those who were abused."
Apparently, US bishops weren’t listening. Apparently, they’re completely confident they’re doing all they can to stop predator priests, nuns, bishops, seminarians and brothers and deter their complicit colleagues and supervisors.
The ongoing abuse and cover up scandal wasn’t on the agenda of the last USCCB meeting either. And don’t expect improvement any time soon. This week, the prelates are working on their next strategic plan, which will cover 2017-2020. We see no sign that they’re discussing any changes, improvements or new initiatives on abuse for the coming years too.
So we appeal again to every single current and former church employee and member: if you saw, suspected or suffered abuse or cover up, please call the police. No matter how old, small or seemingly insignificant your information or suspicions might be, kids are safe only when adults share what they know about predators with law enforcement.
And we appeal to secular authorities – police, prosecutors, and lawmakers especially – to continue to do everything possible to catch child molesting clerics, prosecute their complicity colleagues and reform archaic, predator-friendly laws so that children will be safer.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)