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, [email protected])

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

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

Showing 3 comments

  • Iain Pattison
    commented 2015-01-23 17:06:09 -0600
    Well said Barbara, I doubt the Roman Catholic System (RCS) will listen though, they never do. They don’t listen because they are the most big headed people on Planet Earth. The RCS is even more big headed than the British and boy are they big headed. The RCS is an empire/monarchy/corporation, it is not willed by God and it does not do God’s work. One thing the RCS cannot say though is that it hasn’t been warned & advised, repeatedly, about the child abuse (rape usually) and cover up. Pope Francis (Bergoglio) is either a very good liar or is completely ritualised regarding the clergy child abuse & cover up crisis.
    Carry on with the good work SNAP.
  • Mary Marinkovich
    commented 2015-01-23 02:44:18 -0600
    I agree with the comments on Francis and pedophilia and suggestions to deal with the issues. As for courage…I see no signs of that from Francis on any other front. Talk is cheap, and we have Francis talking up a storm about materialism, wealth, greed…while hanging tightly onto every pilfered (via crusades, inquisitions, and slaying of heretics) bit of treasure in the Vatican vaults. Courage would be to divest the Church at the Vatican Level of the Vatican Bank and of other wealth. Courage would be to separate ALL clerics from the handling and disposition of money raised at the parish level…this function being assumed by parish councils. And to totally pull Bishops and Cardinals out of fund raising…sending them back to their priestly mission of ordinations and confirmations. The priestly role of preaching the gospels, performing the liturgy, administering the sacraments…that is the work of disciples. And all that bunk about how much good the money is for the poor? The poor we have always with us. (I heard that somewhere). Judas was a big fan, I believe, in serving the poor. The nice thing about ‘poor folks’ (I know I come from a Catholic family of 10 kids) is they are all around us. We don’t need to send the money to Rome. We can focus on local and if every parish does that…it would be good. I see nothing but lip service from a patriarchal, corrupt intrastructure that continues plaguing nuns who actually work in poverty afflicted areas face to face (instead of wearing silk shoes and satin dresses). It is time to kick these ‘guys’ out of the counting of collections, to pay them at the same scale as women religious, and get them back out in the ‘field’ being the bearers of good news. Lay people, unite.
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