SNAP Criticizes Archdiocesan Policy to Keep Names of Deceased Abusers Hidden
It is irresponsible, hurtful and self-serving for Catholic officials – in Chicago and elsewhere – to arbitrarily declare “We don’t investigate abuse reports against dead priests.” This decision hurts nearly everyone involved and helps only church bureaucrats who care about their comfort and careers.
It hurts victims, obviously, because it rewards their courage in coming forward with more insensitivity.
It hurts Catholics because it is another violation of bishops’ repeated pledges to be ‘transparent’ about abuse and because it perpetuates the gradual, painful unearthing of the truth about predators which is demoralizing.
And it hurts children and vulnerable adults because every time a fellow victim is ignored or rebuffed, it discourages others who know of or suspect abuse from speaking up and protecting others.
It is true that dead priests can’t defend themselves. But it’s also true that secular and church officials have found, buried deep in secret church files, admissions of guilt by child molesting clergy. Or reports from dozens of other victims – and some witnesses and whistleblowers – which lend tremendous credibility to other abuse reports.
Think about this scenario: Imagine that in 2017, Fr. Bob admitted in writing that he molested Sally. In 2018, Fr. Bob dies. And in 2019, Sally reports her abuse. In this scenario, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich would, according to his practice and policy, keep Fr. Bob’s name and the accusations against him secret.
And what if Fr. Bob admitted sexually assaulting three other girls too, but none of them have yet found the strength to come forward to church officials? Or none of them were deemed credible by church officials? (Remember: three of every four abuse reports to Illinois Catholic officials are determined ‘unsubtantiated,’ according to former attorney general Lisa Madigan).
In that case, four of Fr. Bob’s victims are devastated because they bravely sought some validation and healing but were met with disregard and secrecy.
The key question is: Who benefits from this secretive church practice? Only the church officials who help draw up these self-serving policies. We join with Madigan and others who beg Cupich and his colleagues to end this hurtful secrecy.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, 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)