Media Statements

We are SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We are the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious authority figures (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns and others).

Increasing discord between religious institutions and the Boy Scouts of America during bankruptcy case; SNAP stands with the survivors

The Boy Scouts of America’s bankruptcy has caused religious groups to be concerned with their own potential liability in these cases. Many faith communities sponsored scout units and allowed the church-owned property to be used as a meeting space for the BSA groups. But some had even deeper entanglements. While it is troubling to those religious organizations that sponsored scout groups to realize that they are not protected under bankruptcy, it is troubling to us that many of those abused in scouting were harmed by chaplains or other representatives of the sponsoring faith community.


Abusive Priest Granted Early Release, SNAP Urges Vigilance

Fr. Raymond Joseph Hemmerle, a Catholic cleric twice convicted of child sexual abuse, will be set free on October 1st.  While we understand and respect the American judicial system, we fear for the safety of children upon his release, especially given the distressing fact that he will not be forced to register as a sex offender.


Archdiocese of Chicago priest's reinstatement on hold due to "new information;" SNAP urges transparency

Fr. David Ryan was set to return to ministry at St. Francis De Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich after being cleared just last week of allegations of child sexual abuse. However, on Thursday Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote in a letter to church-goers that the cleric will remain away from the parish while "new information" is investigated. SNAP urges the Cardinal to be transparent about the nature of this "new information," as the lack of openness exacerbates mistrust of the Archdiocese.


German Archbishop Heße's resignation declined by Pope Francis; SNAP sees this as a symptom of continuing scandal

The Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin announced yesterday that the resignation letter submitted in March, 2021, by Archbishop Stefan Heße has been denied by Pope Francis. The Archbishop of Hamburg had been under scrutiny in a Vatican investigation into his handling of abuse cases in the Archdiocese of Cologne. The German prelate was in charge of pastoral personnel in the Cologne Archdiocese from 2006 to 2012. He then worked as vicar-general from 2012 to 2015 before being ordained as Archbishop of Hamburg on March 14, 2015. 

The Apostolic Nunciature to Germany is an ecclesiastical office of the Roman Catholic Church in that country. We are shocked to read the statement from the Nunciature saying that “the basic problem” was a “lack of attention and sensitivity toward those affected by abuse” within the Cologne Archdiocese’s administrative apparatus. The nunciature said that the probe had found organizational deficiencies and procedural errors by the Archbishop, but that “the investigation did not show that these were committed with the intention of covering up cases of sexual abuse.” However, Archbishop Heße himself earlier acknowledged his responsibility for the failure of the system. We would now like to know exactly what the Archbishop considered his mistakes, especially since the Gercke report accused him of having neglected his duty in nine separate cases. It has been our experience that few hands are clean among Catholic officials.


Capitol Hill hears testimony from star gymnasts abused by Nassar; SNAP responds

Seven-time Olympic medal winner Simone Biles, alongside fellow gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, and Maggie Nichols, shared heart-wrenching testimony in a Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C.yesterday. We applaud these young women for having the courage to be public about their stories of abuse and we believe that more crimes will be prevented in the future thanks to their witness and bravery.

In a powerful tone, Simone Biles told the panel, “I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured, before during, and continuing to this day in the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse.” Biles continued, fighting back tears as she said, “to be clear, I blame Larry Nassar, and I also blame an entire system that enabled and perpetrated his abuse.” Her former teammate, McKayla Maroney, spoke in anger as she described her 2015 interview with the FBI saying, “After telling my entire story of abuse to the FBI in the summer of 2015, not only did the FBI not report my abuse, but when they eventually documented my report 17 months later, they made entirely false claims about what I said.


Citing the best interest of the victim, prosecutors dismiss criminal charges against a Catholic priest; SNAP reacts

Wyandotte County prosecutors dismissed the charges in a criminal case against an Archdiocese of Kansas City Kansas priest, Fr. Scott Kallal. The cleric was facing two felonies for sexually abusing a child in 2015. While we respect the decision made by the DA's office, our thoughts are with this courageous young survivor and we are concerned about the message this may send to other potential victims who are considering reporting to law enforcement.

In July of 2017 Fr. Kallal was suspended from public ministry after the Archdiocese received allegations from two different sources that he had engaged in "boundary violations." A man stated publicly that, in the summer of 2015, the priest had tickled his 11-year-old daughter and touched her breast at a church gathering. Fr. Kallal denied "any moral misconduct or malicious intent" and was sent to Maryland for treatment. He was arrested shortly thereafter on two counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. A trial in September 2019, ended in a hung jury. Fr. Kallal was to be retried in Spring 2020. 


The Catholic Diocese of Springfield sees progress, SNAP sees more of the same

In a press conference held Wednesday, September 8, 2021, Bishop William Byrne of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield recognized the work of an Independent Task Force on the Diocese's response to sexual abuse. The Independent Task force spent over a year reviewing how the Springfield Diocese responded to allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

We appreciate this finding from the group. “The Task Force learned that a significant number of the ‘people in the pews’ are disillusioned by the diocese’s failure to communicate fully and accurately about the issue of clergy sexual abuse. In fact, many survivors said that the experience of having to deal with the diocese was more damaging to them than the actual sexual abuse.” Parishioners within this Diocese should be more than just disillusioned, they should be outraged. Abusive clerics baptized them, confirmed them, blessed them, married them, and buried their loved ones.


SNAP applauds the Democratic Coalition in Hungary for calling for a government investigation into the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church.

The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) in Hungary recently called for a government committee to look into accusations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.  DK deputy Leader Ágnes Vadai said in an online press conference that the committee should not just investigate individual cases, but should also work to expose “systemic shortcomings” within the Church.

We commend the DK for advocating for a secular investigation into the Church in a country where 62% of the population is Catholic. We echo the strong statement made by Leader Vadai, who noted that the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference had done nothing other than issue a single statement apologizing to the victims of sexual abuse. The lack of decisive action from the Hungarian bishops comes as no surprise for us since in our experience Catholic officials are always more concerned about covering up for their own "shepherds" rather than protecting and healing the vulnerable sheep. 


Diocese of Fresno breaks its silence about Craig Harrison, SNAP applauds the Bishop's candor

A little more than a month ago, when the Diocese of Fresno finally released its list of “credibly accused” clerics, Msgr. Craig Harrison’s name appeared on it. In a media statement following, SNAP demanded that the Diocese be more transparent about their findings, what they knew and when, as Harrison continued to repudiate these allegations. To us, refusing to acknowledge the external findings by the District Attorney and the findings of the Diocesan review board appeared to be just plain denial by Harrison.


Catholic religious order appears to have lied to an abuse victim; SNAP urges the group whose findings were misrepresented to denounce the religious order

A news article published last week by the Chicago Sun-Times revealed how the Norbertines, a Catholic religious order, apparently deliberately misled child sex abuse victim Nate Lindstrom about the findings of the outside group that investigated his accusations. We cannot help but wonder how many other times Church officials have used this ploy on survivors, parishioners, and the public to conceal the information and advice they receive? We urge Praesidium to publicly denounce that behavior and to refuse to work with the Norbertines in the future.

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