NY--Pope should denounce Syracuse bishops, group says

For immediate release: Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, [email protected])

Yesterday, Pope Francis refused to criticize, even obliquely, even one US Catholic official yesterday for words or deeds that hurt innocent kids or wounded victims.

So today, while he’s in New York, we hope the pope will discipline or at least denounce two Syracuse bishops who have blamed victims of predator priests for their victimization. (This news just came to light last week. )


In 2011, current Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham was asked a clear, simple question, under oath: "did the (abused) boy commit a sin?" He made a clear, simple reply: "The boy is culpable." He later used the word “accomplice.”

And his predecessor, Bishop James Moynihan, told abuse victim Charles Bailey 'The age of reason is 7, so if you're at least 7 you're culpable for your actions.'

These are inexcusable, irresponsible comments from powerful, smart men. They will deter others who were raped and sodomized from reporting criminals and protecting kids.

Pope Francis should punish these prelates or at least harshly and publicly criticize them so that other bishops might think twice before uttering such callous views in the future.

This warped, self-serving view – that a child is to blame for his or her victimization by a priest - stems from the exalted and 'superior' status clerics give themselves. Bishops think this way because they've been indoctrinated since childhood to believe that the ordained are 'above' the common folk.

Bishops often talk of "the dignity of every person." But deep down, many of them are convinced that they really are better than the rest of us, which is why many of them almost compulsively blame others when clerics commit crimes.

We hope Syracuse Catholics will be so disgusted by these mean-spirited remarks that they stop donating to institutions that hide abuse and give instead to agencies that fight abuse.

We also hope Cunningham's brother bishops will harshly and publicly denounce him, so that hurtful comments like this are deterred.

Most of all, we hope Francis shows real leadership and speaks out against these two hurtful comments.

And we hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups in Syracuse and across New York will find the courage to speak up, expose wrongdoers, protect kids, seek justice and start healing, by first seeking independent sources of help and NOT reporting to corrupt, 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. 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)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected][email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine(312-399-4747[email protected])

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