Rome- SNAP 20 steps for Pope Francis

For immediate release: Thursday, March 13, 2014 

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

What a sad irony: Today is the international Rights of the Child Day and the anniversary of a pope who has done literally nothing to safeguard even one child. 

For a year now, Pope Francis has headed a global monarchy that has long been – and still is - mired in well-documented and horrific crisis involving the hiding of clergy sex crimes.

But has refused to take a single step that protects a single child, unveils a single cover up or disciplines a single bishop or deters a single act of recklessness, callousness and deceit. Instead, he has rebuffed

--a United Nations panel's request for information (and ignored its recommendations),

--parishioners urging that a convicted Missouri bishop be disciplined, and

--prosecutors who want an accused child molesting Polish archbishop extradited.

Instead, he has deemed symbolic gestures and battling Vatican theft, mismanagement and inefficiency higher priorities. And he has made recent comments that exacerbate the wounds of suffering victims and betrayed Catholics and that encourages blame-shifting and self-centered posturing.

More than a year ago, we recommended these steps to the next pope. As best we can tell, Francis has taken none of them. We still hope that he will.

There's speculation that Francis will soon meet with abuse victims. We hope he does not – until he takes steps like these that will make a tangible impact on children's safety.

SNAP 20 child safety steps for the new pope’s first “100 days”

Here are 20 simple steps the next pope could and should promptly take with little effort or real controversy. Based on our 25 years of dealing with this crisis, we are convinced these moves will make children much safer by exposing and deterring wrongdoing in child sex cases by church staff.

---Ordering bishops to set up and finance “whistleblower funds” to reward church staff whose actions lead to the criminal charging or conviction of current or former abusive clerics.

---Removing child sex abuse from the CDF’s jurisdiction so that all church officials will clearly see that clergy sex abuse and cover up is a crime, not a sin, and a matter of discipline not of doctrine.

---- Insisting that priests immediately give their passports to their bishops when abuse accusations arise (so they can’t flee overseas).

----Demanding that bishops hire independent corrections staff to house and monitor child molesting clerics (who cannot be criminally charged) in remote, secure facilities so they will be kept away from children. 

----Instructing bishops to use only licensed therapists (not priests or nuns) to deal with abuse victims.

----Instructing bishops to use only former police (not clerics) to investigate abuse cases that cannot be pursued by law enforcement.

----Convening and funding a world-wide conference of secular lawmakers who are working to reform archaic, arbitrary and predator-friendly secular laws (like the statute of limitations) that prevent victims from exposing those who commit and conceal sex offenses through civil and criminal courts.

---Making an urgent, strong public plea to all church employees and members, begging them to give information and suspicions about fugitive predator priests to civil authorities so the clerics may be prosecuted and kept away from children.

----Instructing bishops to avoid using language that minimizes clergy abuse (“it’s just a small percentage of priests”), deflects blame (“abuse happens in other settings too”), faults accusers (“these allegations are from 25 years ago”), mollifies church-goers (“he’s not accused of molesting at this parish”), praises accused wrongdoers (“he’s a very popular priest”), or guilt-trips victims (“he has tirelessly worked to help the poor”).

----Removing Fr. Robert Oliver, the recently appointed Vatican abuse prosecutor, who has led Boston church officials in quietly “backsliding” on abuse measures over the past decade.

----Openly soliciting nominations for the prosecutor’s post and choosing a new one only after consulting with victims, advocates and lay people.

----Demoting and denouncing Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City Missouri, the only sitting bishop who has been criminally convicted of failing to report suspected child sex crimes (by keeping hundreds of explicit and sexually suggestive photos of young girls taken by Fr. Shawn Ratigan).

----Discouraging current and future cover ups by clearly, publicly and severely disciplining prelates (like Cardinal Roger Mahony and others) who are concealing or have concealed child sex crimes. 

--Ordering bishops to post names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics (including religious order priests) on diocesan and parish websites. 

--Turning over Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) records about predatory priests to local law enforcement in the nations where the alleged crimes took place.

--Insisting that the head of each diocese and religious order do likewise with their abuse records.

---Ordering bishops to provide two types of diocese-wide training: for kids and adults on preventing crimes and for adults (parishioners and employees) on reporting crimes 

---Mandating church-based sessions teach parishioners how to respond appropriately in abuse cases so victims, witnesses and whistleblowers won’t feel intimidated or hopeless (See SNAP brochure “What to do when your priest is accused of abuse,”

(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]),  Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected])


Showing 4 comments

  • Peter Nolan
    commented 2015-09-29 18:06:18 -0500
    Thanks for these 20 steps!
    I was molested by a vile, nasty priest when I was twelve years old in 1961. I only remembered it in therapy years later. We need to do away with the statute of limitations for sex crimes.
  • Helen and Jim Schoeppner
    commented 2014-03-14 20:52:32 -0500
    Amen to you Lani Halter yes why doesn’t he do that ? My opinion is he thinks like most it is a sin to rape our kids. Not a crime. And these poor stupid devil priest has to have sex .so he not going to do anything .hell if he got rid of the pedophiles in the church ,he wouldn’t
    Have any left to say the stupid mass for the dumb catholic.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-03-13 20:43:32 -0500
    I think that the actions of "secular"pedophiles are so cruel, depraved and inhumane that with regards to pedophile priests, I also think it must be quite a tour de force for any sitting pope, to pretend to not understand how rampant, HEINOUS and how incredible the level of BETRAYAL the actions of catholic pedophile priests and laity, are.
    Believing thus, I think that after spending over 25 years of patiently explaining and politely requesting any pope to pay attention to doing the 20 things you have quite logically suggested that pope francis do, it might behoove you and us to try a simpler approach of direct demands, if you will. I personally, would like to simply say to him: 1. FIRST, PUBLICALLY ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM AND THEN, 2. PUT AN END TO CATHOLIC PEDOPHILES ACTIVELY HARMING CATHOLIC CHILDREN WITHIN AND UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, NOW!
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