SNAP backs Texas prelate for USCCB President

Survivors of Clergy Abuse Gather Outside USCCB Meeting

“It is time for new leadership to take clergy abuse more seriously”

SNAP backs Texas prelate for USCCB President

Group “vigorously opposes” likely winner from California

Election will be held at USCCB meeting in Baltimore on November 11

WHAT:

At a press conference and vigil in advance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fall Meeting, clergy sex abuse survivors and their supporters will

  • Announce which candidate they are supporting for the next President of the USCCB,
  • Explain their reasons for their choices, and
  • Hold a vigil for the survivors and leaders who have helped build and guide the survivor movement

WHEN:

Sunday, November 10 at 4:30 PM

WHERE:

Outside the meeting of the USCCB at 700 Aliceanna St, in Baltimore, MD

WHO:

Leaders and members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a Virginia woman who is on the organization’s Board of Directors and a Maryland man who is the statewide leader for Maryland.

WHY:

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), are endorsing a Texas prelate in his bid to become the next president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The election is Nov. 11 in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the USCCB.

The candidate supported by SNAP is Bishop Daniel Flores, who has headed the Brownsville diocese for a decade. SNAP supported his failed candidacy for the same office in 2016. Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo won that year, and in the years since, Cardinal DiNardo has been plagued by scandal and accusations of failing to live up to the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

“The next leader of the USCCB must be committed not just to talking about clergy abuse, but to leading by example to prevent future cases from ever happening,” said Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member and leader in the Virginia and Washington D.C. areas. “We think Bishop Flores represents the best chance for a more serious approach to this issue.”

The candidates for USCCB President (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Military Services, Washington D.C.
  • Bishop Frank Caggiano, Bridgeport CT
  • Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, San Francisco, CA
  • Bishop Daniel E. Flores, Brownsville, TX
  • Archbishop José H. Gomez, Los Angeles, CA
  • Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, Milwaukee, WI
  • Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, Springfield IL, 
  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Fort Wayne-South Bend, IN
  • Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, MI

Of these candidates, the front-runner and presumptive winner is Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles. However, given that Archbishop Gomez and his archdiocese are currently being investigated by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, we cannot help but feel that his election would send a dangerously backward message to survivors of clergy abuse. Rather than show the world that Church officials are taking this matter seriously, promoting someone like Archbishop Gomez would send the message that the status quo – and those that enforce it – are the future of the Catholic Church in America.

We feel that Archbishop Gomez is especially wrong for the job because, for the last decade, he and other Los Angeles Church officials have refused to update or add to its list of “credibly” accused clerics. And as an additional fact an LA bishop was known to be an abuser and was kept in his job, where he was supposed to be a gatekeeper against, among other things, child sex abuse.

“These blemishes should automatically disqualify Archbishop Gomez, not make him the heir apparent,” said Dave Lorenz, SNAP Maryland leader.

When it comes to leadership, SNAP would prefer that the USCCB look to young bishops who have stepped out to lead on the issue of clergy abuse, such as Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne, WY who helped encourage a secular criminal investigation into his predecessor who had been accused of abuse. While Bishop Flores has not led on abuse in the way Biegler has, the group believes he represents “the possibility for new ways of thinking about clergy abuse.”

“What we know is that we need new leadership who will look to confront sexual abuse in a new way, not fall back on the patterns of old,” said Lorenz. “We strongly opposed Archbishop Gomez and hope that church officials will look to make a change instead of signaling for more of the same.”

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member (703-801-6044, SNAPvirginia@cox.net), Dave Lorenz, SNAP Maryland (glydonct@gmail.com, 301-906-9161), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)


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