National--Obama talks about “Spotlight” film
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 29
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, 314 645 5915 home, [email protected])
We’re grateful that President Obama is drawing more attention to an award-winning film about journalism and the Catholic clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis. But it should be noted that neither he nor any other US official has taken a single step to deal with that continuing crisis.
Six months ago, Pope Francis spoke to Congress, a body that has refused, over decades, to take a single action to investigate or expose clergy sex abuse and cover up by Catholic priests, bishops, nuns, seminarians and brothers.
Individual members of Congress have TALKED about the crisis. (In 2005, then-Senator Rick Santorum, for instance, cited Boston’s “liberalism” as a cause of the crisis: “When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.")
But no federal institution or official has ever taken action about – or even investigated – this horrific, on-going scandal.
When dozens of baseball players were charged with illegal use of steroids, Congress held hearings. But Congress has held NO hearings whatsoever about the 6,427 US accused predator priests that bishops admit are accused of sexually assaulting more than 100,000 children. And again, no president or attorney general or other federal official has taken action to expose or prevent these horrific crimes.
Kids are safest when those who commit and conceal child sex crimes are behind bars. When that can’t happen, those who commit and conceal child sex crimes should at least be exposed and deterred.
That’s what an independent, thorough government-sponsored inquiry can do. It’s also the very least that our federal government should do, since it has completely refused to take even a single meaningful step in response to the Catholic church’s on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis.
We applaud the governments that have conducted investigations and issued reports about this continuing crisis, including Ireland, Australia, Canada and Belgium.
We applaud the local US jurisdictions that have done such investigations: New York (Westchester County Grand Jury Report, June 19, 2002 and the Suffolk County Grand Jury Report, February 10, 2003), New Hampshire (Attorney General’s Report with investigative archive, March 3, 2003), Maine (Attorney General’s Report, February 24, 2004. See also the attorney general's investigative materials released on May 27, 2005 and July 8, 2005), Boston (Reilly Report and Executive Summary, July 23, 2003), three in Philadelphia, PA (Report of the Grand Jury, September 25, 2003, unsealed September 15, 2005, made public March 29, 2011, another Grand Jury Report, September 15, 2005, and a third, Report of the Grand Jury, dated January 21, 2011, released February 10, 2011). G
(Just a few weeks ago, Pennsylvania’s attorney general released the latest grand jury report on clergy sex crimes and cover ups. It focused on the Altoona diocese and concluded that “Nothing has changed.”)
We applaud non-profits that have done investigations, like CRIN, the Child Rights International Network (Child Sexual Abuse and the Holy See: The Need for Justice, Accountability and Reform, January 15, 2014) and Amnesty International.
We applaud the international bodies that have done investigations, like the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations on the Second Periodic Report of the Holy See 2/5/14 and Holy See, Second Report 10/22/12 and CRC, List of Issues 7/9/13.) and the Committee Against Torture (Concluding Observations June 17, 2014).
But since the first US pedophile priest made national headlines 30 years ago (Fr. Gilbert Gauthe, Diocese of Lafayette Louisiana), Congress and the federal government have done virtually nothing.
We hope this changes soon. Specifically, we hope federal officials will launch a thorough investigation into this continuing crisis like the Australian government has.
(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)