NY--Victims skeptical of Cardinal Dolan’s proposal
For immediate release, October 6, 2016
Statement by Mary Caplan of New York City (Manhattan), former director of SNAP’s New York chapter
As a child, I was abused by a New Jersey priest who took me to New York City and abused me there. I’m very skeptical of Cardinal Dolan’s proposal. It seems like it’s straight out of the US bishops’ lobbying, legal defense and public relations playbook.
Most of all, victims want to protect kids and deter cover ups by exposing corrupt clerics in court. Bishops oppose this. So when victims look like they may get their day in court, bishops feel pressure and take unilateral steps to pacify or pay them off, exploiting their depression and desperation over mounting medical bills, severe therapy needs and continuing personal pain.
When victims get close to trials, bishops often claim bankruptcy so they can protect themselves and their secrets.
When legislators get close to reforming statutes of limitations, so victims can pursue trials, bishops propose or adopt unilateral and seemingly voluntary moves to pacify them too. Bishops post predators’ names on church websites or hold healing masses or pledge to help victims financially. Then, when pressure abates, bishops go back to “business as usual.”
But nearly every step bishops take about clergy sex crimes and cover ups is motivated by their desperate desire to keep their own cover ups covered up.
Parishioners, parents and the public should demand that Dolan offer help without demanding that victims sign away their legal rights.
I’d encourage victims to think long and hard before approaching church officials or their representatives. I’d urge victims to talk with their own attorneys first. And I’d encourage every New York parent and parishioner to keep pushing for real justice, prevention and healing by prodding lawmakers to end or extend the state’s archaic, predator-friendly statute of limitations.
(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)