Rome--Victims to Pope: No "face-saving" on Chilean bishop

For immediate release: Saturday, April 11

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

We beg Francis – again - to both discipline Chilean Bishop Juan Barros Madrid and do so quickly and clearly without the familiar and disingenuous kinds of maneuvers and denials that Catholic officials make in a frustrating and hurtful "face saving" way.  

For years, Catholic officials worldwide have promised to be "open and transparent" in the clergy sex abuse and scandal. Yet they move slowly, timidly, opaquely and selfishly in these cases, rarely admitting their real motives in public.

When they're finally forced to act against those who commit or conceal heinous child sex crimes and cover ups, Catholic officials almost always do so in deceitful or confusing ways, refusing to acknowledge

They bend over backwards to prevent admitting “one of our own endangered or hurt kids by acting recklessly, callously and deceitfully.” They do everything they can to prevent parishioners and the public from knowing that, in fact, a cleric has done egregious harm.

(This happened most recently with Cardinal Keith O’Brien in Scotland and with virtually every one of the dozens of bishops who has resigned for committing sexual violence and the handful who have resigned for concealing sexual violence.)

If abuse and cover ups are to be deterred, it’s crucial that Francis brings his blunt speaking and decisive action to this continuing crisis, like he has with the crisis of church finances. He must take firm and obvious discipline against those who hurt the vulnerable, protect their careers, conceal dreadful crimes, hide the truth and discourage victims from reporting known and suspected child sex offenses to law enforcement.

To put it another way, victims and Catholics won’t really be assured and hopeful until Catholic officials can begin to punish wrongdoers quickly and clearly, saying things like “Bishop Smith is being demoted because he put kids at risk.”

We also urge Francis to release more information about Fr. Karadima’s crimes. Barros has concealed these crimes. So it’s both just and healing that these cover ups be uncovered and Francis has the power to make this happen.

Again, we’re glad four victims are meeting this weekend with Cardinal Sean O’Malley about this awful appointment. We’re not optimistic. And we’re sad that only fellow abuse victims are brave enough to challenge Francis on his hurtful appointment. We urge Catholic employees and members across the world to step up and join us in prodding Francis to rescind Barros’ position and take concrete steps to “un-do” the harm both Francis and Barros have done.


(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]  

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