Rome- Victims hope Francis doesn't win Nobel Prize
For immediate release: Thursday, October 9, 2014
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, [email protected] )
Some will be offended by our saying this, but we hope the esteemed Nobel committee does not award the Nobel Peace Prize to Pope Francis.
While he’s made strides in improving church governance and finances and speaks often about the poor, that doesn’t merit a prize of this stature. And he’s done almost nothing to protect kids, expose predators, punish enablers, and deter future child sex crimes and cover ups. And it would be very ironic were the Pope to win the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year two United Nations panels harshly criticized his institution for continuing cover ups of sexual violence by clergy. What other "head of state" who has been cited for non-compliance with United Nations treaties on torture and children’s rights is up for consideration?
Francis made a few well-orchestrated “feel good” gestures about the church’s on-going abuse and cover up crisis. Like his predecessors, he’s belatedly taken timid action against a high profile child molesting cleric. (Francis has disciplined Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, much like Benedict disciplined Fr. Maciel.)
Like his predecessors, he’s belatedly taken timid and vague action against a controversial bishop.
Like his predecessors, he has apologized for abuse and met with victims. But like his predecessors, he’s also done very little, if anything to make a single child safer, preferring instead to use words rather than deeds and symbolism rather than substance.
Unlike his predecessors, he’s slowly setting up an abuse commission, but to us, that seems like a paltry public relations move rather than a meaningful reform move. He needs no panel to guide him. He knows that every Catholic official who commits or conceals child sex crimes should be turned over to law enforcement and be disciplined harshly by the Vatican. But he refuses to take decisive action that will really make a difference, preferring instead soothing words that won’t really make a difference.
Last year’s prize, awarded to a little-known organization fighting against land mines, probably had a very positive impact on its work.
Giving Francis this prize probably won’t have a big impact on his work.
It may simply be safer and wiser for this esteemed panel to award this prestigious prize toward the end of an individual’s leadership, rather than at or near the beginning.
At best, giving such an award to Francis now would be premature. He’s done and said some good things said a few good things. Many hope that these largely symbolic gestures will eventually result in some concrete progress. But the most compelling issue for us – and for millions - is that he has yet to really act on the problem that demands the most action from him, the ongoing clergy sexual abuse and cover up crisis.
For decades, now it has been devastating children and families around the globe. Thousands of predatory priests and complicit bishops remain free, in office, and face few or any consequences. And children worldwide remain at risk. For this, he should be considered for a Nobel Prize? We respectfully disagree.
Roughly one in three or four girls and one in six or seven boys are sexually assaulted. Historically, adults do a better job of looking out for each other than adults do looking out for kids. Many adults can protect themselves from the ravages of war but few kids can protect themselves from the ravages of predators. So we hope that future Nobel Peace Prize winners will be individuals or groups that have impressive achievements in keeping children safe from child molesters.
Francis will have earned a Nobel Prize when he has done everything in his power to protect children. We hope he starts to earn it very soon.
And if Francis does win, it will bring joy to millions of Catholics while bringing pain to millions of other Catholics, to say nothing of the deep pain it will bring to tens or hundreds of thousands of deeply wounded and still struggling adults who were sexually violated as children by Catholic clerics and betrayed again as adults by Catholic officials when they sought to expose predators and protect kids.
(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, [email protected]), Joelle Casteix (949 322 7434, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414 429 7259,[email protected])