Rome--Pope 'tinkers with tail end' of crisis
For immediate release: Wednesday, Jan. 21
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)
Like virtually every other Catholic official, Francis pretends that internal tinkering with church policies will really help prevent abuse. It won’t.
Like virtually every other Catholic official, Francis treats this scandal as an internal matter. It’s not.
And defrocking pedophile priests often protects church assets and bishops’ reputations more than it protects children. (And only a very small percentage of predator priests are ever defrocked.)
Prevention on the front end, not punishment on the back end, should be the priority. First, let’s make sure clerics who commit and conceal abuse are wearing prison uniforms; then let’s address whether they should wear Roman collars.
While making meaningful change in church finances, governance and morale, Francis insist on making nearly meaningless gestures in the abuse and cover up crisis. He refuses to take the single most effective step possible: defrock, demote, discipline or even harshly denounce bishops who conceal child sex crimes. And he refuses to order bishops to
--post predators’ names on their websites,
--give police and prosecutors records about predators, and
--lobby for (not against) better secular child safety laws.
Church panels, procedures, protocols and panels make for great public impression. They provide the patina of progress. But they’re almost always public relations.
We should not confuse motion with reform. We hurt children if we let ineffective moves be portrayed as real change.
Tens of thousands of church officials didn’t hide crimes by tens of thousands of priests against hundreds of thousands of kids because there weren’t enough church panels, procedures, protocols and panels on abuse. Making or tweaking the already plentiful but usually ignored church abuse policies isn’t the answer.
The answer lies largely in external reforms: helping police, prosecutors and lawmakers do their jobs and pursue those who commit and conceal heinous child sex crimes in the church.
Sadly Francis, who shows such courage in many other ways, lacks the courage to break from the timid, self-serving and destructive decades-old patterns of recklessness, callousness and secrecy regarding child molesting clerics and their corrupt, concealing bishops.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)