Rome- Victims meet the pope, SNAP responds

For immediate release: Monday, July 7, 2014

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])

As he has done for millions over the past year, today Pope Francis seems to have won the hearts of six clergy sex abuse victims with his humble, kind personality. Sadly, however, kids and Catholics need a leader who combines these traits with the toughness to fire complicit church officials.

We applaud each of the victims for having the strength to attend this meeting. And we especially applaud Marie Kane of Ireland, who chose to disclose her identity and speak to reporters. Speaking publicly about our abuse is one way we can help show other victims they have nothing to be ashamed of.

The Pope says the church should "make reparations" to victims. That's secondary. Stopping abuse and protecting children comes first. And sadly, no child on earth is safer today because of this meeting. 

With or without church officials, abuse victims can heal themselves. But only with church officials' help can children protect themselves from child molesting clerics. That's where the Pope must focus. And that's where he's refusing to act. 

Reparations happen when the violence is over. But this is an on-going crisis. Children are being assaulted by clerics right now. Bishops are concealing these crimes right now. And Francis must take decisive action right now, action to expose and remove clerics who commit and conceal heinous crimes against the most vulnerable.

As Pope prepares to meet victims, SNAP is worried

For immediate release: Sunday, July 6, (11 p.m. Eastern)

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

Over the last 2,000 years, two popes have met with about two dozen clergy sex abuse victims. Very little has changed. A dozen popes could meet with a hundred victims. And very little will change. These meetings are public relations coups for the Vatican and distracting placebos for others. They provide temporary but false hope.

It's tough to teach old dogs new tricks. It's tougher to teach old monarchs new tricks, especially when those monarchs have spent decades immersed in a privileged cleric culture and climbing self-aggrandizing clerical ladders. 

A top Bill Clinton campaign consultant famously penned the mantra “It's the economy, stupid,” to explain what mattered most during the election. The analogy in this crisis would be “It's the church structure and culture.” In other words, it's not about individual predators, enablers or popes. It's about a long-standing and deeply-rooted pattern of protecting clerical careers and reputations by hiding crimes and hurting kids. 

A dozen years ago in Dallas, two dozen SNAP members met with cardinals and bishops. Afterwards, virtually none of those prelates ever contacted us again, despite repeated promises to do so. Worse, virtually none of them made anything but the most superficial and fleeting changes in how they dealt with victims, predators or enablers. In short, in retrospect, we're pretty convinced those meetings were distractions and wastes of time and energy. And we've heard similar stories from victims in other countries too.

For decades, thousands of victims – alone or in small groups - have met with thousands of Catholic officials about clergy sex crimes and cover up. Very few victims have told us anything positive came out of those meetings. And that just makes sense.

In meetings, people can share knowledge. But Catholic officials don't lack knowledge. They lack courage – the courage to be honest, to “out” and oust their criminal colleagues, both those who commit and conceal sexual violence against children. And they lack the incentive to act responsibly because those who act irresponsibly are virtually never defrocked, demoted, disciplined or even defrocked. No meeting with victims – however many or compelling or articulate they may be – changes this fundamental, distressing and unhealthy reality.

We are worried this meeting will lead to heightened expectations and desperate hopes that will be dashed, leaving many victims more devastated than before. We are worried it will cause more complacency instead of prompting more vigilance. We fear it will encourage more victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to meet with more Catholic officials, instead of meeting with police, prosecutors, journalists, attorneys and fellow survivors.

(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 18,000 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]), Becky Ianni (703 801 6044, [email protected])



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