Rome--Victims to church abuse panel: "Take practical action now"
For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 5
Statement by Statement by Mary Caplan of New York City, SNAP Leader, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (917 439 4187, [email protected])
The latest in a long series of Catholic abuse panels holds its first full meeting this week in Rome. We beg panel members to take at least one or two practical steps, right now, that make kids safer.
Why? Because kids are being hurt and crimes are being concealed now. And because taking one or two tangible steps that actually protect kids now will help give the panel some credibility and disillusioned Catholics some hope.
The most responsible move panel members could make would be to expose even a few clerics who commit or conceal heinous crimes against kids.
Time and time again, top Catholic officials instruct these church panels to “look at the big picture” and “take the long view” and make long term recommendations about new internal procedures and protocols. That’s irresponsible. Again, today, kids are being hurt and crimes are being concealed and predators are being hidden. Today, kids need our help. And they especially need the help of high profile Catholics who have information and a bully pulpit and can peel back, today, at least some of the secrecy that still enables child molesting clerics to evade the law, be sent abroad, and assault more innocent children.
(See, for instance, the recent list of proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests who have been transferred to the Philippines where they are still on the job: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/Philippines/Key_Cases.htm)
One panel member, Pete Saunders, has said “We need the pope to say, 'I will hand over all the information I have about abusing priests wherever they are in the world.’”
But Francis has been in office nearly two years and has refused to do this. So for the safety of kids – and for its own integrity and credibility - this panel should hand over its information about abusing priests to law enforcement or journalists right now, rather than waiting to convince other church officials to do this. That will immediately make girls and boys safer.
Kids are not safer if this panel passes a resolution asking Pope Francis to fire Bishop Robert Finn and other corrupt church officials. Kids are not safer if this panel recommends that every diocese adopt a “zero tolerance” policy. Kids are not safer if this panel suggests that church officials defrock more predator priests or stop exploiting legal technicalities or start offering victims more therapy or any of that. These are common sense steps that top Catholic officials the world over promise but refuse to do.
Proven, practical steps that help police, prosecutors, parents, parishioners and the public protect themselves from predators – that’s what kids need from this panel, today.
Keep in mind that the panel is headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley who we criticized for how he dealt just last month with staff in his archdiocese who delayed reporting suspected abuse.
Other groups have criticized O’Malley too:
Even other church officials have criticized O’Malley on abuse:
And another top Vatican church official handling abuse “was himself one of several Catholic officials who allowed a notorious abusive priest to remain in ministry for years after learning of his long history of sexual abuses,” the Boston Globe has reported.
Fr. Robert Geisinger’s predecessor, Fr. Robert Oliver (a top O’Malley and Cardinal Bernard Law aide) was no better:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “The time is always right to do what is right.” And what is right in Rome this week isn’t tweaking church policies that sound good on paper but are routinely ignored by selfish bishops who prioritize protecting their careers and reputations over protecting boys and girls. What’s right in Rome this week is for this panel to actually do something that protects kids today.
(Here are 20 steps we recommended to Francis two years ago next month: http://www.snapnetwork.org/italy_snap_s_20_child_safety_steps_for_the_new_pope_s_first_100_days
(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)