SNAP calls for transparency and accountability before a National Eucharistic Congress
According to the National Catholic Reporter, the Catholic bishops in the United States are planning a multi-year "National Eucharistic Revival" that will culminate in a four-day National Eucharistic Congress in July of 2024. The hope is that the event will shore up flagging attendance at mass. The bishops intend to set up a nonprofit organization to raise $28 million to cover the cost of the planned downtown Indianapolis event. However, Donna Doucette from Voice of the Faithful correctly points out, "You had low Mass attendance long before COVID that coincided with finance and sex abuse scandals."
In our view, Church officials are buying $28 million worth of lottery tickets in an attempt to win back a thinning herd. We wholeheartedly agree with Terence McKiernan, co-founder of BishopAccountability.org, who told NCR that he believes the $28 million expense will be "galling" for clergy sex abuse survivors. It is indeed galling to us.
We cannot help but think of how many outreach efforts could be launched to find and help victims who have long held the pain of sexual assaults by bishops, priests, deacons, brothers, and nuns. Education and awareness sessions could also be established for witnesses and whistleblowers, who might then help law enforcement charge, convict, and imprison abusers and enablers. We know that perpetrators are still out there flying under the radar and preying on both children and unsuspecting adults. An average of two Catholic clerics or staffers are arrested each month. The abuse scandal is just not a thing of the past.
We call on the USCCB to shut down this expensive sideshow and focus on what has been promised and not delivered by many dioceses and prelates: transparency, and accountability. In a homily from September 2018, one month after the scathing statewide grand jury report released in Pennsylvania, Archdiocese of Indianapolis Bishop Charles Thompson said, "If we have learned anything these last few weeks, we must remain ever diligent, vigilant and courageous. Trust can only be restored by greater transparency and accountability." Yet some dioceses, among them the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and most religious orders have yet to release lists of abusers. Moreover, Church officials who covered up abuse in the past remain in positions of power and control.
Has the USCCB forgotten the pioneering media reports by award-winning journalist Jason Berry? Do the prelates not remember the bombshell SPOTLIGHT series in Boston? Is the bishops' conference not aware of multi-state investigations into clergy and institutional abuse? Do Church officials not read the daily news of abuse cases and probes from around the world?
It is our firm belief that until the Catholic Church truly internalizes the gravity of the harm done to innocent lives and begins to make meaningful atonement for that harm, a $28 million-dollar Eucharistic Congress will not pull the missing bodies back into mass.
CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578 ), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President L ([email protected], 814-341-8386 ), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(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)