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).

SNAP Calls on Archbishop William Lori to Immediately Update Credibly Accused Clergy List

(For Immediate Release April 5, 2023) 

More than 30 Maryland clerics, brothers, sisters, and lay personnel accused of child sexual abuse who are named in the new Maryland Attorney General report, are NOT on the Baltimore Archdiocesan list of those "credibly accused." We are appalled and concerned.


We call on Archbishop William Lori to immediately:

  • add these names to his list,
  • publicly explain his recklessness and secrecy, and
  • stop making hair-splitting and self-serving distinctions, such as refusing to list deacons, and
  • start listing ALL Catholic church and school staffers who assault boys and girls, regardless of their titles status or positions.

Maryland Attorney General Release Redacted Report on Clergy Abuse; SNAP Reacts

(For Immediate Release April 5, 2023) 

Maryland’s Attorney General has released a long-awaited report on their investigation into Catholic clergy sexual abuse in their state. We're glad that the AG fought to release this report and hope that people throughout the region will read the report to better understand how and why clergy abuse and cover-ups were able to be perpetrated for so many decades

We are in complete awe of the brave victims who came forward to share their tragic experiences with the commission, they join a huge network of survivors who are changing the world and protecting others from these atrocities.

This report goes back as far as 80 years so this is a good picture of historical abuse. But we're most concerned about recent and ongoing abuse, and we hope that this news will encourage anyone who has been hurt by clergy in Maryland to come forward and get help.

Should clergy be mandated reporters when a child discloses they are the victim of sexual abuse, even if learned in the confessional?

(For Immediate Release April 4, 2023) 

This statement was written by New Jersey SNAP Leader, Mark Crawford

Topic: Should clergy be mandated reporters when a child discloses they are the victim of sexual abuse, even if learned in the confessional?


Why clergy MUST be mandated reporters when they learn of a child being sexually abused, yes, even if learned during the sacrament of confession.

As a young teenager, I was repeatedly sexually, physically, and emotionally abused by my parish priest several times a week for several years.  I eventually learned the same was true for my younger brothers. The priest insisted I go to him for confession, to confess my sins. That insistence was nothing more than a skilled predator ensuring I saw such actions as my complicity in the sexual contact the priest was perpetrating. In other words, the sin was mine, not his.

For a young teenager, these instances of sexual abuse were infused with a perpetrator's faux love and concern. The priest often willingly lavished me with material gifts I could otherwise never have and took me on many trips away from home.  These acts were torturous, causing mind-bending conflict and demanding a level of emotional response young children are not yet equipped with the ability to comprehend, causing confusion and great emotional distress.

I began to go to other priests for confession, in hopes of obtaining help to ensure such sexual contact stopped. I told the priests that another priest and I were having sexual relations but I wanted it to stop, that he was touching me in ways that would cause me to sin.  What I wanted was help, for someone to intervene and stop the unwanted sexual acts.  In all but one of these instances, the clerics failed to express a desire to help stop the abuse or even concern.  To my great dismay, it did not stop as no real help ever materialized. 


SNAP Reacts to Kansas Statute of Limitations Reform Bill

(For Immediate Release April 4, 2023) 

The Kansas House voted Monday to pass Senate Substitute for House Bill 2127, just days after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation. The proposed bill will remove the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of child sexual abuse and will also extend the time frame for civil lawsuits involving those crimes. 

If signed into law, the legislation will include child sexual abuse among the offenses for which a criminal investigation may be opened at any time. Additionally, the law will also permit civil claims for the recovery of damages associated with these crimes up to 13 years following the victim's 18th birthday, or three years following the abuser's criminal conviction for a felony linked to child sex abuse, whichever comes later.

We applaud these necessary reforms. However, we are disappointed that legislators in Kansas made the decision to exclude wording from the bill that would have given victims of child sex abuse who are beyond even this new civil statute of limitations their day in court.

The Senate Substitute for HB 2127 may give the impression to the public that victims who suffered horrific sexual abuse in the past can seek redress under this law, but this is not true. When enacted, the new law will remove the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse going forward. However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in the past that such reforms cannot be applied retroactively. Moreover, the bill will do nothing for the hundreds of brave victims who have come forward and are already beyond the civil statute of limitations. Outspoken victims like Susan Leighnor, who blasted the recent report conducted by the KBI  and Kansas Attorney General’s Office and who testified recently regarding the importance of a retroactive window that would allow victims who have suffered horrific harm in the past their day in court, will still be unable to seek justice through the courts.

Susan graciously shared this comment with SNAP, "For all of the clergy abuse survivors who bravely came forward and told your personal stories of sexual abuse to the KBI, I remain committed to eliminating the antiquated statute of limitation laws in Kansas. I hear you and I support you in your recovery. Together, we will hold powerful institutions accountable for the harm done to us as children."

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Janet Patterson SNAP Leader, Kansas (316-361-2575 [email protected])

SNAP Applauds Maryland Delegates on Passing the CVA

(For Immediate Release March 31, 2023) 

The Maryland House of Delegates voted today in Annapolis almost unanimously in favor of the Child Victims Act of 2023.

We salute the Maryland legislators who approved the passage of the Child Victims Act (CVA) into the Senate. The outdated legislation will undergo much-needed reform as a result of the CVA's approval. We are very appreciative of Delegate C.T. Wilson for standing up for this truth and prioritizing the needs of the victims. Without the committed survivors and advocates who have worked so hard to create this opportunity for reform, none of this would be possible. We are hoping for a speedy Senate agreement to make this legislation a reality for the victims who have long carried the burden. A Senate companion bill has also been introduced by Sen. William C. Smith Jr.

Fr. Hans Zollner Resigns from Pontifical Commission

According to reports, one of the Vatican’s top officials in charge of handling the ongoing clergy abuse crisis has abruptly resigned his post. To us, this is yet another signal that anyone waiting for change to come from within the Catholic Church itself will be waiting for a very long time.

SNAP Urges Senate Panel in Kansas to Act to Protect the Children of Kansas, not its predators

(For Immediate Release March 23, 2023) 

Today, a panel of the Kansas State Senate will finally hold a hearing on legislation that would remove legal barriers preventing victims of child sexual abuse from seeking criminal and civil justice.  We support the efforts of the brave survivors who have worked so hard for this hearing, and we applaud their courage and persistence.

Senate Bill 317 would remove the statute of limitations on criminal charges going forward, as well as allow survivors to file lawsuits for damages until they turn 31 years old. Under current law, children who are victimized by coaches, clergy, family members, and others must file a lawsuit before the age of 21.

Based on over 30 years of experience, we at SNAP believe that changing antiquated, arbitrary, predator-friendly statutes of limitations in both the criminal and civil arenas is the single most effective thing lawmakers can do to help prevent child sex crimes and cover-ups.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe Completes Bankruptcy

(For Immediate Release March 22, 20223) 

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has completed its bankruptcy and now, finally, nearly 400 victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests and other Archdiocesan employees will receive compensation. Let us be clear: no amount of money makes up for the harm endured by the victims of these crimes. Let us also be clear that for every survivor who came forward, it is likely that there are still many more that did not. Victims continue to require outreach and care, especially those who are still suffering alone and in silence.
Archbishop John Wester recently published an open letter to survivors, saying that he is "ashamed" of what happened in Santa Fe and expressing "profound regret and sorrow" for what these victims endured as children. While we would like to believe the worthy sentiments expressed by the Archbishop, we find that we cannot. What we would need to see to believe is concrete action from Archbishop Wester. He is one of the most powerful clerics in the United States. He owns a bully pulpit wherever he goes, especially when he attends bishops' conventions in the United States and in Rome. He has the ear of the pope. As an Archbishop, he might just rise to Cardinal, where he would be eligible to vote for the next Pope. We ask that he convert what he says is his "shame" into fighting for survivors and that he makes a part of his ministry true support for victims of abusive priests.
What do we need at this point?
1) We are still missing lists of the accused from 15 dioceses and about 100 religious orders in the United States. None of the 150 orders of nuns have published any names. Archbishop Wester can help us get those names into the public eye. He can start with San Francisco, his own hometown, and where he worked as an auxiliary bishop from 1998-2007. The current Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, has steadfastly refused to publish a list. Our own San Francisco list numbered 312 names in September of 2022. Informed by the information from the lawsuits filed in the recently closed California civil window, our cross-referenced San Francisco list now numbers 400. Imagine the true scope of that list if Archbishop Cordileone published the names still hidden in his secret files.
2) Dioceses much wealthier than Santa Fe are now threatening bankruptcy - Oakland and San Diego are two examples. Bankruptcy generally stiff-arms victims and keeps the secrets hidden away. The Archbishop can urge Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego and Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland, to drop those threats and instead come to the table with open hearts and open files. Bankruptcy almost always wounds victims more deeply, instead of promoting healing.
Only with transparency and radical change can the modern Catholic Church in America be redesigned to be safe for families and a relevant force for good. At the moment, we do not see it as a force for good. We invite the Archbishop to join us and fully take the side of good, fighting against the evil that is clergy sexual abuse.

Contact: Contact: Mary O’Day (602-677-2188 [email protected])  Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

Diocese of Oakland Considers Bankruptcy; SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release March 17, 2023) 

The Bishop of the Diocese of Oakland says he is “strongly” considering declaring bankruptcy because of an avalanche of lawsuits. Bishop Michael Barber directs his letter to “Parishioners and Friends” of the Diocese and laments the property he will need to sell and bankruptcy’s impact on his plan to realign parishes because of a priest shortage.

Nowhere in his letter does he lament the harm done to the 330 souls who have sued his Diocese. Nowhere does he acknowledge these people were part of the Oakland Diocese. They were baptized and confirmed, they were altar servers or attended Catholic schools. Their families entrusted their children to the priests who molested them, and those families donated their time and money to the Diocese. They in effect paid the clergy who destroyed their children's lives.

Bishop Barber is woeful about his problems but seems to view the victims simply as a large number and not human beings who deserve both his compassion as well as just reparations.

Albany Diocese Declares Bankruptcy

(For Immediate Release March 16, 2023) 

In a move that, in our opinion, tries to prevent the public from realizing the scope of clergy sexual abuse that has occurred inside its borders, the Diocese of Albany, New York, filed for bankruptcy. This makes the 5th out of the 8 Catholic Dioceses in New York to do so. 

As we see it, this proposed bankruptcy plan would limit a victim's ability to receive compensation and, more importantly, would prevent them from obtaining the bishop’s secret records, which would reveal the extent of past and ongoing cover-ups. The New York Child Victims Act was designed to give survivors access to the truth and a path to justice. It's difficult to imagine bankruptcy court is being used in Albany in good faith given how frequently Catholic jurisdictions have abused it in similar ways over the past few years.

In a statement to the press, Bishop Scharfenberger offered these remarks. “The decision to file was not arrived at easily and I know it may cause pain and suffering, but we, as a Church, can get through this and grow stronger together,” Scharfenberger’s statement said.



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