Pope makes poor choice for his abuse panel

For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

The Pope has just promoted a priest with a disappointing track record, ties to Cardinal Bernard Law and a narrow and legalistic view of the abuse and cover up scandal. For a pontiff who shows boldness in other areas, when it comes to abuse, he moves very slowly and timidly.

Here, in 900+ words, are a half dozen specific reasons – we oppose the appointment of Fr. Robert Oliver:


In March of 2013 and again in March of this year, we called on the pope to demote Fr. Oliver because he has led Boston church officials in quietly “backsliding” on abuse measures over most of the past decade.

In May, we criticized Fr. Oliver for claiming that “procedures” must be “developed” to deal with bishops who enable or hide clergy sex crimes. That's patently ridiculous.


Catholic officials quickly bring the hammer down on Catholic writers who write something they consider wrong or Catholic teacher who says something they consider wrong. Like most monarchs, Catholic officials don't quibble over 'procedures,' they just exercise their nearly limitless power.

(Often, when Vatican wrongdoing is exposed - like the UN's Committee Against Torture did on the day Oliver's claim was publicized - church officials immediately ratchet up their promises to give the impression that they're taking action. Fr. Oliver's remarks were another example of this old public relations ploy.)

(To pretend that now somehow there's some suddenly uncovered and unspecified “procedure” deficit that prevents popes and bishops from quickly demoting or disciplining the proven wrongdoers (like Cardinal Bernard Law or Bishop Finn or Monsignor William Lynn) or credibly accused wrongdoers (like Archbishop Josef Wesolowski who accused of molesting several kids in Poland and the Caribbean or Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, who is accused of repeated sexual misconduct but is second-in-command of a diocese in Paraguay) is absurd at best or deceitful at worst.)

This crisis won't end as long as Catholic officials keep promoting other Catholic officials who've shown little or no real courage in addressing it. Bolder measures are needed.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years 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 SNAPnetwork.org)

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


SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant