Rome- Pope promises to hold bishops "accountable," SNAP is skeptical

For immediate release: Monday, July 07, 2014

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

We are glad the Pope promises to “hold accountable” Catholic officials who conceal abuse.  But he hasn’t done it yet, not in Rome nor in Buenos Aires. Saying and doing are different things. The first is easy, the second is hard.

Many desperately want to believe that this humble, brilliant, and unpretentious pope is tackling the clergy abuse crisis with the same vigor he's addressing church governance and church finances. He is not.

Church defenders bring up several alleged examples of recent progress. None of them are significant.

--Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity

Sending two clerics to Paraguay isn’t necessarily progress. It’s not clear whether or when this credibly accused child molester, now second in command of diocese, will be removed from office, nor whether or when church records about him will be given to law enforcement.

–Archbishop Josef Wesolowski

Internally handling child sex crimes, whether by a custodian or cardinal, is hardly progress. So we are not encouraged by Francis' decision to rebuff police and prosecutors and to deal with Wesolowski through secretive church processes. Civilized countries usually have independent, experienced and impartial justice systems to handle crimes. That's what must happen with clerics who commit and conceal child sex crimes.

When the pope starts turning over secret church records about tens of thousands of child molesting clerics to secular officials that will be progress.

–The papal abuse panel

This could result in progress but we aren’t optimistic. Over the past 30 years, many smart and caring individuals have given superb advice to Catholic officials on abuse. Most of them have been ignored. At best, it is too early to claim this as progress. At worst, it is a diversion and distraction. 

In our desperation to feel hope in the midst of this on-going crisis, we hurt kids if we engage in “wishful thinking.” We endanger boys and girls if we confuse words with deeds.

We must ask ourselves “Does this protect kids from molesters?” Today's meeting did not.

Luke's Gospel tells us “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?” We're asking for prevention, not symbols, gestures, pledges, or meetings. We beg Francis to listen carefully and act immediately. 

Click here to see SNAP’s list of tips for the pope. 

(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 

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


Showing 2 comments

  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-07-08 10:59:48 -0500
    Thank you, Mr. Clohessy. I’m particularly grateful that you were able to succinctly state the question we all, as concerned adults, should ask each time this pope and the vatican do speak and take some action regarding this scourge: As you say, "We must ask ourselves ‘Does this protect kids from molesters?’ ” (I think I might add, from THESE CATHOLIC CHURCH molesters.)
    The answer to that question will always be the determining factor as to whether the earthly leader of the catholic church, and it’s heirarchy of clergy and laity are in fact literally working to STOP THIS SCOURGE FROM CONTINUING in the one place where they can most assuredly STOP IT!
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