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).

Pope Francis Wants Pontifical Commission To Work On Prevention

(For Immediate Release December 8, 2022) 

At Pope Francis’ meeting with his high-ranking advisers this week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley reported on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, now within the Roman Curia. It is hard for us to envision this Pontifical Commission, which also collaborates with the canonical investigative entity Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, working towards prevention while still in the midst of a pandemic of abuse.

We would be more pleased if the Church stopped talking about prevention and instead started taking action. The Vatican could start by opening its books, and naming those who target children and adults publicly. In our opinion, permanently removing all perpetrators from the ministry and turning over all information on these cases to secular authorities would have a greater impact on the scandal than meetings. Truth, transparency, and awareness are prevention. Identifying and removing perpetrators is important to prevent future crimes, but it is even more important to punish those who enabled the abuse in the first place.

Real reform would also involve the Church doing more to support survivors. Instead of paying lobbyists and lawyers who advocate for keeping the courthouse doors closed to survivors and blocking secular investigative reports, use this money for funding counseling and other critical services for victims.

Protecting and enabling accused bishops, priests, and those in professed religious communities is a heinous crime that endangers communities, families, children, and adults. The immediate impediment to prevention is the power that clergy have over the victims, as well as the power that hierarchs have to control the narrative about abuse. Until the laws are changed and justice is available for victims of sexual abuse past and present, the persistent danger remains, and prevention is only a pipe dream.

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, Communication Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]

(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

SNAP Calls For Transparency at Franciscan University Steubenville

(For Immediate Release December 7, 2022) 

We are unable to authenticate the documents calling into question whether Franciscan University of Steubenville's statement that they only learned of the sexual assault allegations against Fr. David Morrier in 2015. However, since they have now been published publicly, the university needs to be investigated, preferably by an outside authority, to determine who knew what, when they knew it, and what they did, or did not, do about these serious accusations. Moreover, the process, as well as the results of the probe, need to be completely open and transparent.

We do know that Fr. Morrier is a convicted & registered sex offender who targeted and preyed on an extremely vulnerable student. The published documents detail additional very troubling accusations that call into question the integrity and truthfulness of this Catholic college.

Enough is enough, light needs to be shined into this dark corner. The courageous young woman at the center of the scandal, and any others like her, deserved to be protected by Franciscan University, not to have exploitation by Fr. Morrier buried and ignored. The only way to ensure that such a travesty does not happen again is to uncover the complete truth.

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, Communication Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]

(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


Famed Jesuit Priest Artist Accused Of Sexual Misconduct Against Nuns

(For Immediate Release) 

ROME – Reports emerged this week that Slovenian Jesuit Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, a world-famous artist whose murals adorn the walls of churches and chapels worldwide, has been accused of sexual misconduct with nuns and has been barred by his order from public ministry.

We applaud the nine women from the Loyola Community in Ljubljana, Slovenia who have stepped forward with courage to share their stories and we support and believe them. We can only wonder, however, whether these allegations had previously been reported to the order and what actions were taken. Given that the Fr. Rupnik was also the spiritual abuser for this community, we fear that his influence and position may have prevented these claims from getting out previously. If claims were made in the early 1990s, we'd like to know why no action was taken as a criminal investigation could have been launched immediately and more victims could have been spared the pain of abuse.

It is extremely problematic, however, that the Vatican declined in October to carry out a canonical process due to the statute of limitations because the complaint did not include minors.  To us, the Vatican declining a canonical process due to the statute of limitations raises questions. Do Nuns not deserve equal protection? How does the Vatican square the decision to ignore the canonical process when the Vatican has criminalized the abuse of adults? Most critically, why now, in this case, is the Vatican taking guidance from secular laws when they are content to ignore them in so many other cases?

What concerns us most is that Fr. Rupnik had access to children as well. From 1987 to 1991 he lived in Gorizia at the Jesuit “Morning Star” Center where he worked mainly with youth. Although there are no allegations yet to indicate that children were abused, this case perfectly demonstrates how valid and credible allegations have been minimized and ignored to Fr. Rupnik’s benefit in the past. Similarly, a lengthy and distinguished career can provide favor to a suspect: disgraced former Cardinal McCarrick was known as abusive by Vatican officials in 1987 and still allowed to rise through the ranks for years to come.

We encourage anyone who may suspect, witnessed, or learned of abuse by Fr. Rupnik to immediately report their information authorities. 

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, Communication Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]  Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]

(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

Religious Brother Charged with Sexual Assault of Child in Wisconsin, SNAP has concerns


(For Immediate Release December 5, 2022) 

A religious brother from the Madison Catholic Diocese was charged with two felonies on Monday after having sexual contact with a 17-year-old he met at a DeForest church Bible study he led. According to a criminal complaint, Rajnal "Reggie" Rehmat, 31, was charged with sexual assault of a child by a person who works with or volunteers with children and child enticement for incidents that occurred between Sept. 5 and Oct. 1 of this year. Rehmat is a religious brother from Pakistan, of the Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord, an international religious community.

Our hearts go out to the young victim in this matter, and we are grateful for her courage and strength in coming forward. We are also grateful to the DeForest Police Department for investigating this alleged crime and putting the wheels of justice into motion.

We now call on church officials to disclose how Brother Rehmat came to work in the U.S.  for the Diocese of Madison. A statement by the diocese indicates that Rehmat arrived this year in June to work as a Religious Brother. Furthermore, church officials have an obligation to inform the community of Rehmat’s resume. It is also incumbent upon the Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord (CJD) administrators to announce the charges filed against one of their own and actively seek out possible victims from Rahmet’s other work assignments as a religious brother and while he was in vocations training. This outreach needs to be done both nationally and internationally. The order of CJD has a mission office In Modesto, CA., and internationally in Russia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Proceedings Sealed in Efforts to Block Attorney General Report in Maryland, SNAP Responds

In a setback for efforts towards transparency and justice for clergy abuse survivors in Maryland, a judge today made the decision to seal the ongoing proceedings that will decide whether or not a recently-completed attorney general report into sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore will be publicly released. While we lament this decision, we hope that this does not signal the end of the road for the Maryland report and that it will still be publicly released soon.


(For Immediate Release December 2, 2022) 

In a move that we believe is intended to prevent the public from learning the full extent of clergy abuse within its borders, the Diocese of Santa Rosa, CA has declared bankruptcy. Given the timing of this filing as well as how other dioceses around the country have subverted bankruptcy court and used it to protect secrets, not assets, it is hard to believe that the diocese is as indigent as it is claiming.

This filing comes in advance of the first clergy abuse trials resulting from a three-year extension that gave adult survivors of child sexual abuse in California until Dec. 31 to file civil suits related to their experiences. The move would freeze at least 130 new cases already added to a consolidated case list administered through the Alameda County courthouse, which includes lawsuits from the rest of Northern California that have been filed since the three-year window opened at the beginning of 2020. For a religious organization whose incessant claim is ‘truth and transparency,’ they certainly are not afraid to run for safety. It is a sad day for transparency and justice.

With more lawsuits looming and the Church’s history of choosing to suppress its files, we are not surprised by this decision. According to our records, Santa Rosa is one of California's most impacted dioceses. From 1970 to 1995, we found an average of 20 abusers assigned to the diocese each year. If each of those men had been assigned to a different parish, three out of five parishes would have been hosting abusers, placing six out of 10 children in danger of being abused.

First woman to file a civil lawsuit against the Catholic church since Maine's laws changed

(For Immediate Release December 2, 2022) 

If there was ever any doubt that legislation, allowing victims of childhood sexual abuse, previously time-barred from seeking justice, would effectively expose perpetrators and the institutions that enabled them, those doubts surely continue to fade. Ann Allen, 65, of Scarborough, Maine has filed a civil complaint in Cumberland County Court claiming that the Roman Catholic Church ignored allegations of child sex abuse at the hands of one of its clergy members. Allen has become the first woman to file a civil lawsuit against the church since Maine's laws changed in 2021, removing all statutes of limitations.

We were not surprised to learn that the abuse occurred during what is supposed to be a memorable time for young Catholics, their first communion. Allen alleges that she suffered a violent assault at the hands of Fr. Lawrence Sabatino. And, once again we learn that church officials employed a known abuser and afforded him a long career to continue to violate children. Sabatino, although deceased in 1990, came to be known in an accusation dating back to 1958. Then, a Lewiston family revealed to the bishop and authorities that Sabatino had sexually abused their 6-year-old child. He was assigned to St. Peter's parish by the bishop. As of 2005 (and more later), at least 13 other women had come forward to claim that he abused them as children at that parish. He was supervised for much of his time at St. Peter's by another priest, J. Romani, who has also been accused of abuse.

We roundly applaud Ann Allen for coming forward and taking steps to lay the responsibility for the harm caused to her back where it belongs, at the feet of the accused and the Diocese responsible for monitoring its clergy. While it is never a cause for celebration to learn of a survivor's abuse, we are very happy to know that states like Maine stand with victims and not with perpetrators and institutions who enabled them.

Archdiocese of Baltimore funds legal fees for 'anonymous group' seeking to seal court proceedings

(For Immediate Release November 29, 2022) 

After saying it would not oppose the release of a report detailing decades of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Maryland, the Archdiocese of Baltimore is helping to pay lawyers for an anonymous group that’s asked a city judge to keep secret arguments over whether to make the document public. A spokesperson for the archdiocese confirmed Monday to The Baltimore Sun that the church was paying, at least in part, the fees of Gregg Bernstein and William J. Murphy, two white-collar defense attorneys.

It is becoming clearer, and with no surprise to us, that Archbishop William Lori is deliberately deceptive. In a homily, shortly after Attorney General Frosh’s request to release the report, Lori said, ‘And as I said in my letter to the faithful of the archdiocese last Thursday, I pledge to continue to do everything possible to ensure that no one in the church’s care is ever again harmed by a representative of the church.’

These remarks illustrate that Lori is out of touch with reality but perfectly in line with the stance taken by other church officials on ‘truth and transparency’ followed by ‘I pledge,’ neither of which are honest remarks.  We suspect that Archbishop Lori has signed the check for these legal fees.

In 2018 and 2019, Archbishop William Lori handpicked Gregg Bernstein, Esq. to a team that investigated sexual misconduct allegations made against former Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, diocese Bishop Michael Bransfield. Lori, then Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 2009 to keep sealed documents on clergy sex abuse and lost that fight.

Restorative Justice Proposals as a result of Two-Year Study at University of Notre Dame; SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release November 28, 2022) 

A group composed of scholars, psychologists, clergy, restorative justice experts, and survivors of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal has apparently developed a set of proposals that encourage the use of restorative justice as a means to help heal victims and the broader Church. SNAP believes that the proposals will no doubt please the hierarchy because they do nothing to address the bishops' continuing penchant for secrecy or the other systemic problems that fueled the scandal. The survivors' group insists that complete truth and transparency must come before "restorative justice" can ever be considered.

According to the announcement, the proposals are the result of a two-year study supported by an initiative created by the University of Notre Dame’s Office of the President as part of the Notre Dame Forum. The proposals have been forwarded for consideration to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Notre Dame political science professor Daniel Philpott, who participated in the study, noted that survivors had specific needs for “healing and wholeness.” For a research university that prides itself on being a "force for good in the world," these proposals demonstrated to us how divorced scholars are from the reality and long-term effects of clergy sexual abuse. Apologies, prayer and penance, and a healing garden are emotional appeals. They are not directed at the actual needs of survivors; they are a salve for the churchgoers who continue to fund what to us is nothing less than a criminal organization.

We have seen dioceses throughout the world hold special masses of "reparation." In 2014, then Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput held a healing mass for victims of abuse where knitted potholders were handed out as gifts to attendees, while survivors and advocates stood outside the Cathedral in protest. In 2019, Archbishop Blair of Hartford, Connecticut laid himself prostrate on the altar to symbolize repentance.   How did that help those who can no longer stand the smell of a candle?

Unnamed Group Seeking To Seal Court Proceedings in Maryland Report on Abusive Clergy

(For Immediate Release November 23, 2022) 

A group named in a report detailing sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests is asking a Baltimore judge to seal all court proceedings in the Maryland attorney general’s efforts to make the report public. The group, whose name and number are unknown, made the request last Thursday, according to a court filing. In the filing, attorneys for the group said that although the people are named in the attorney general’s report, they are not accused of sexual abuse.

The anonymous group is represented by attorneys Gregg Bernstein and William J. Murphy of the Zuckerman Spaeder law firm, who will only identify their clients in a private hearing. In 2018 and 2019, Archbishop William Lori appointed Gregg Bernstein, Esq. to a team that investigated sexual misconduct allegations made against former Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, diocese Bishop Michael Bransfield. Lori, then Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, went all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 2009 to keep sealed documents on clergy sex abuse and lost that fight.

It's not shocking to us at all to learn that an ‘anonymous group’ then, is attempting to prevent the release of a report detailing sexual abuse by the clergy in Maryland. For decades, the Roman Catholic Church has gone to great lengths to completely disregard, conceal, and minimize rampant sexual abuse and rape of children worldwide. When it comes to clergy sexual abuse, the Catholic Church's playbook has been to fight, deny, and delay.

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