Rome- Pope of “change” now backs status quo; SNAP says

For immediate release: Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Statement by SNAP leader Becky Ianni of DC/northern Virginia (703-801-6044, [email protected])

We agree with Pope Francis that "The statistics of the phenomenon of violence against children are staggering.” 

He proposes, however, not a single step by anyone to help remedy this tragic fact. His response to this devastating violence is apparently to change little or nothing.

Instead of using his unequalled bully pulpit to exhort parents to be more vigilant or prosecutors to be more aggressive or lawmakers to be more pro-active or employers to be more cautious, he defends the indefensible.

And instead of using his vast power to reform his church hierarchy's legendary reckless, callous and deceptive handling of clergy sex cases, he mischaracterizes insignificant, belated, grudging concessions as significant, genuine progress. Instead of admitting he and his colleagues and underlings have been and still are too secretive, he endorses his and their continuing patterns of promising transparency while practicing deception. (It was just a few months ago, under this pope, not his predecessor, that Vatican officials rebuffed a United Nations panel's request for information about clergy sex crimes.)

The Pope's interview, according to the National Catholic Reporter, “contains some of the pope's only public words on the sexual abuse crisis, which continues to roil dioceses across the world.”

The Pope said "Clearly that the vast majority of abuse happens in the family setting and neighborhood." What possible motive could he have for saying this except to deflect attention from the Catholic Church's horrific track record moving predators, promoting enablers, stonewalling investigators, deceiving parishioners, destroying evidence, attacking victims, discrediting whistleblowers, blocking disclosures, and stopping reforms of secular child safety laws?

“Those people – in families and neighborhoods - are worse than we are” is a petty and hurtful claim unbecoming of a pontiff.

The Pope doesn't control families and neighborhoods. He controls his church. And he refuses to make even one decisive, effective step to expose – much less truly punish – the thousands of clerics who commit or conceal sexual violence against kids. 

Pope Benedict belatedly began overseeing the corrupt Legion of Christ. Pope Francis is overseeing its revival and picked a Legion priest to be the second-in-command in Vatican City.

Pope Benedict accepted Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation. Pope Francis met with him on the first day of his papacy.

California Cardinal Jose Gomez temporarily suspended Cardinal Roger Mahony from public ministry. Pope Francis met with Mahony weeks ago. 

Pope Francis won't even tell his bishops “Report known and suspected child sex crimes to law enforcement, whether you are required to by law or not.”

Citing no evidence whatsoever, the pontiff insults schools, camps, athletic programs across the globe by claiming "The Catholic church is maybe the only public institution to have moved with transparency and responsibility" on abuse. And contradicting considerable evidence that many other denominations and institutions have also been exposed as having harbored child molesters, the pontiff claims “the church is the only one to be attacked."

Finally, more and more it's becoming clear how much Pope Francis is a product of his environment. He comes from a poor country, so he rails against poverty. He was a Vatican outsider, so he rails against Vatican insiders. He lived in a nation where archaic laws, church power and other factors have largely kept clergy sex crimes concealed, so he doesn't think much must be done to prevent and expose clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

No one wanted a real reformer in the papacy more than we did. We suspected, however, that Pope Francis would not be a real reformer. His inaction over the past year, coupled with his insensitive, ill-informed and self-serving comments today, confirm our worse fears that he is, indeed, not a real reformer – at least not on the crisis that matters most in the church – the safety of children. 

This pope who has brought so much hope to so many people has bashed any real hope among betrayed Catholics who desperately want an honest and healthier church and wounded victims who desperately want a safer environment for 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 15,000 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 (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Judy Jones 636-433-2511, [email protected]) Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected])


Showing 4 comments

  • John Thompson
    commented 2014-03-08 18:18:43 -0600
    This pope has said pretty things but has done nothing so the Church’s policy of saying pretty things to hide dirty deeds continues. I was abused by my parents, extended family and neighbor girl and boy and when I when for help by nuns and priests. The fact that most abusers are parents and extended family members is a separate matter. The Church is also a family and the pope needs to address the abuse that is happening within his family by actions not in words.
  • Annette Kissell Nestler
    commented 2014-03-05 13:41:00 -0600
    AMEN, Lani, it’s all about local governments, lawmakers and “We the People”!!! SOL Reform with a “Survivors Window”, for all our UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and, as time, goes on, around, our globe.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-03-05 12:19:27 -0600
    I did never think or believe that this pope would be an agent of change and a true healer of the devastating scourge of pedophile catholic priests, nuns and entire laity. In fact, it is why I cringe whenever I see newsreel footage since his election, of him kissing and hugging, babies, toddlers and the physically and mentally disabled. In fact, the quitting/resignation of pope benedict, and the election of this particular pope, are in fact as it turns out, the primary reason I decided to stop being catholic.
    I am sorry, that this interview and his reported comments, keep you “sucked into”, continuing what actually hasn’t yet worked to solve the problems; i.e. in writing intelligently, logically and responsibly, making your case against him and his lack of integrity and actual belief in the words of Christ. His isn’t a “bully pulpit”, he is simply and quite horribly, a bully.
    Please begin the movement, be a force in this country, together with your co-members of SNAP; to REMOVE THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS on these crimes, in each and every state and territory of these United States of America.
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