SNAP applauds the Democratic Coalition in Hungary for calling for a government investigation into the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church.
The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) in Hungary recently called for a government committee to look into accusations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. DK deputy Leader Ágnes Vadai said in an online press conference that the committee should not just investigate individual cases, but should also work to expose “systemic shortcomings” within the Church.
We commend the DK for advocating for a secular investigation into the Church in a country where 62% of the population is Catholic. We echo the strong statement made by Leader Vadai, who noted that the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference had done nothing other than issue a single statement apologizing to the victims of sexual abuse. The lack of decisive action from the Hungarian bishops comes as no surprise for us since in our experience Catholic officials are always more concerned about covering up for their own "shepherds" rather than protecting and healing the vulnerable sheep.
In the United States, we have seen how effective secular investigations can be. We strongly believe that this process encourages more victims to come forward because they have more trust that their outcries will be heard. For example, in Pennsylvania, Attorney General Josh Shapiro uncovered details about ex-priest John Allen’s crimes and published them in his bombshell 2018 grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse and cover-up in six Pennsylvania dioceses. Most disturbingly, thanks to AG Shapiro and his team, we know that Catholic officials in the Diocese of Harrisburg had been aware of Allen’s abusive behavior since at least the 1970s. Without the involvement of the attorney general’s office, Allen would have been able to go the rest of his life without facing justice.
This story out of Pennsylvania is a great illustration of how justice and prevention, delayed though they may be, are possible with the involvement of secular society. Catholic officials in Harrisburg were happy to keep information about Allen internal and secret. Thanks to law enforcement's work, the former priest will now have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, and the public is alerted and protected.
We hope the success in Pennsylvania will inspire the government in Hungary to initiate this much-needed investigation. We have no doubt that the “playbook” uncovered by AG Shapiro is in use by Catholic officials worldwide, and there are surely hidden predators in every country that pose a current danger to boys and girls. Only through the involvement of secular law enforcement can those perpetrators be identified and exposed so that children are safer.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Mark Artzrouni, SNAP Europe, [email protected], +33 - 6 95 73 65 92, Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]),
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)