Rome- Vatican claims to be powerless, SNAP responds

For immediate release: Friday, Sept. 26, 2014

Statement by Mary Caplan of New York City, SNAP Leader, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (917 439 4187, [email protected])

Yesterday, the Vatican ousts a controversial bishop. Today, the Vatican claims it's powerless over bishops and that bishops are not “representatives or delegates” of the pope.

In a response to a United Nations child rights committee, top Catholic officials are doubling-down on the ludicrous claim that “bishops do not act as representatives or delegates” of the pope.

The Vatican claims that its ancient, rigid, global and crystal clear hierarchy isn't a hierarchy at all but some kind of loosely-knit communal club with no real leader or power.

This self-serving claim, crucial to the Vatican as a legal defense tool in litigation, is made within hours of the Pope ousting an eccentric bishop in Paraguay and within months of the Pope ousting an extravagant bishop in Germany. So the Catholic hierarchy wants it both ways – sometimes, apparently, bishops answer to the Vatican and sometimes not, whichever notion is most advantageous to church officials at that particular moment.

If the Vatican insists it has no role in clergy sexual violence or cover ups, then they should stop claiming they have abuse policies and admit they have only abuse suggestions.

The Vatican also rebuffs the UN panel, claiming that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child applies only to “Vatican citizens” and the Vatican's “diplomatic personnel” who live “outside the territory of Vatican City State.”

In clergy sex abuse and cover up cases - criminal and civil - Catholic officials routinely and vigorously try to exploit legal technicalities, however small or far-fetched, instead of addressing the merits of the case. That's what the Vatican is doing here. They ignore the dozens of specific and horrific well-documented reports of church complicity in heinous sexual violence against innocent vulnerable children. Instead, they simply say "you really have no right to question us."

Earlier this week, some began to feel more optimistic about two steps by Francis' on clergy sexual violence and cover ups. Now, that optimism has been quickly dashed.

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


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