Rome--SNAP challenges papal panel to talk "procedures"

For immediate release: Friday, Feb. 6

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790,,

The latest church abuse panel, meeting now in Rome, is to “come up with best practices for dioceses and religious orders to implement” (AP) and “propose ways for the church to improve its norms and procedures.” (Catholic News Service).

But if my house is filthy, I don’t need to learn “best cleaning practices.” I just need to start sweeping out the dirt.  

That’s what Pope Francis must do. But that’s what he hasn’t done and won’t do. The dirt is just too widespread.

It’s a lack of decisive action, not a lack of ‘norms,’ that keeps predators in parishes and abuse cover ups covered up. No plethora of procedures can or will force bishops to be honest about child molesting clerics and responsible about innocent childrens safety.

Since royalty are never demoted or disciplined in a monarchy, clearer or "better" or more procedures do nothing but create the image of reform. So we have few hopes for this panel. Whatever it recommends will be adopted and then ignored because this pope, like his predecessors, lacks the spine to fire corrupt men like Archbishop John Neinstedt or Bishop Robert Finn.

Or Philippine Bishop Arturo Mandin Bastes who right now is keeping a known abuser, Fr. Arwyn N. Diesta, in ministry. (Fr. Diesta worked in the Los Angeles archdiocese in the 1980s and abused a young teen seminarian there. Three times Sorsogon diocesan officials were warned about Fr. Diesta - twice by Cardinal Roger Mahony and once by the Vatican. Yet Bishop Bastes puts youngsters in harm’s way today by keeping Fr. Diesta on the job.)

Or Argentinian Juan Alberto Puiggari (who covered up for Fr. Justo José Ilarraz who sexually assaulted up to 50 kids in the early 1990s in a residential minor seminary in the Paraná archdiocese but was never reported to civil authorities and allowed to transfer to another unsuspecting diocese and where he stayed in ministry until being ‘outed’ in 2012 by a journalist).

The list goes on and on and on.

Complicit Catholic officials need punishment, not advice. They need harsh discipline, not “best practices.” This new church panel can't provide that. Only the Pope can. But he refuses.

So children, parents and families must create and rely on external pressure - from victims, witnesses, whistleblowers, police, prosecutors, lawmakers and independent governmental investigators – to expose and deter clerics who commit and conceal this horrific sexual violence.

These panel members are well-educated and well-intentioned but clearly powerless over prelates.

Marie Collins and Pete Saunders are smart and compassionate individuals who are brave to take on this role. We wish them well and hope they won't end up feeling used or betrayed. But this panel, like every other church panel, is predicated on the deceptive notion that prelates need to be educated about abuse. They don't. They need to be severely, publicly and promptly disciplined each time they ignore, minimize, conceal or enable child sex crimes. That hasn’t happened. That isn’t happening. And that won’t happen, unless Pope Francis suddenly shows way more bravery than he’s shown in two years.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 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

Contact - David Clohessy +1 314-566-9790,, Barbara Dorris +1 314-503-0003,, Barbara Blaine +1 312-399-4747,  

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  • Rosemary McHugh
    commented 2015-02-09 10:29:07 -0600
    Thankyou, David, I really appreciate your insights on the Commission that met in the Vatican this past weekend.
    Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh
  • Iain Pattison
    commented 2015-02-06 15:12:35 -0600
    I agree with David and I agree with Joelle Casteix’s (SNAP) article yesterday criticising pope Francis (Bergoglio) for not disciplining bishops regarding child abuse but saying that it’s ok to smack children. The problem is that popes are accountable to no-one. I think the panel members are being used by the Roman Catholic System to make them look legitimate regarding the clergy child sex abuse & cover up crisis.
    I also agree with Mike Skiendzielewski’s and John Duffin’s comments below. I particularly agree with John Duffin.
  • Mike Skiendzielewski
    commented 2015-02-06 13:01:22 -0600
    “…For all of these reasons, I now ASK for your close and complete cooperation with the Commission for the Protection of Minors….”
    (capitals inserted for emphasis)

    And what are the consequences should certain bishops and cardinals choose NOT to cooperate with the work of the Commission for the Protection of Minors? In those dioceses, who will ensure that the rules, regulations and protocol are being followed as outlined in the Pope’s letter? Non-compliance is not that unlikely given that we had certain dioceses here in the US that would not conduct or allow audits of their programs as directed by the USCCB guidelines relative to clergy abuse.
  • John Duffin
    commented 2015-02-06 11:50:07 -0600
    With the continual denial of allegations by the church, is the a strategy available to bring an end to the church?
    I can never see this religious establishment following any kind of human rights rules or laws.
    I suggest a campaign of defiance by not attending or funding the church by it’s members in order for the church to comply with the law.
    The members have the power. By not attending or funding the church, the church will capitulate.
    This must be done for the safety of all vulnerable people.
  • @ tweeted this page. 2015-02-06 08:22:09 -0600
    Rome--SNAP challenges papal panel to talk "procedures"

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