MT--Victims blast Helena Catholic officials re bankruptcy

For immediate release: Tuesday, March 3

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790,,

These more than 500 brave victims and their dedicated attorneys have done the very best with an awful situation brought on by the Catholic hierarchy’s immense clout, expensive lawyering and obsessive secrecy. We hope the new settlement brings them sorely-needed healing.  

The real bankruptcy of Montana Catholic officials is moral, not legal or financial. Every last priest, nun, seminarian and parish employee in the Helena diocese should be ashamed that their bishop exploited and hid behind legal technicalities so the horrific cover ups of horrific crimes remain covered up and so that parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public learn as little as possible about clerics who committed and concealed heinous crimes against children.

Catholic diocesan bankruptcies are always selfish, shrewd and secretive schemes designed to protect the reputations and careers of church bureaucrats.

Bishops claim they seek bankruptcy protect so that they can purportedly “treat every victim fairly.” That’s baloney. If Catholic officials wanted to do that, they long ago would have set up a national or international fund so that kids assaulted in any state or nation would get help, regardless of that jurisdiction’s statute of limitations or that diocese’s insurance coverage.

Bishops pretend to be “on their own” when it works for them and part of the global church when that works for them. Legally and morally, they try to have their cake and eat it too. And that’s incredibly disingenuous and hurtful.

Not a single one of the dozens or hundreds of complicit Catholic officials, who ignored or hid these thousands of crimes, will ever be exposed or face justice. That’s a tragedy. And that’s why the cover ups of clergy sex crimes continue to this day, because those who cover up escape consequences, win promotions and thus have no incentive to act more responsibly when they learn of or suspect a predator priest is hurting a child.

No amount of money can restore the shattered faith, violated trust and stolen childhoods of these 500+ survivors.

We commend these wounded but courageous victims for having the strength to step forward, the wisdom to take legal action and the persistence to endure legal delays. Because of their bravery, it’s likely that hundreds of suffering individuals broke their silence for the first time and shared the awful burden of childhood betrayal with family, friends and therapists who have helped them cope with this horrific trauma. Thousands of long-overdue and sorely-needed conversations about children’s safety were finally held. And tens of thousands now look at Catholic clerics and other authority figures with a more healthy degree of skepticism.

So good has come out of all this suffering. But it’s been because of these brave survivors and it’s been in spite of these self-serving Catholic officials.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have 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

Contact - David Clohessy 314-566-9790,, Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003,, Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747,


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