SNAP: We Need to Demand Better of Our National Leaders

The leader of New York’s largest archdiocese will lead the prayer at the upcoming Republican National Convention, shining a spotlight on the tight connection between religious and political officials and reminding us of the critical need to demand better of our leaders.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan will lead the prayer at a party to re-elect a man who has been accused of sexual misconduct more than two dozen times. Making things worse, Cardinal Dolan himself has consistently failed to live up to his own promises in terms of keeping children and the vulnerable safe. Just two months ago it was revealed that he was allowing an 11-time accused Monsignor to remain the pastor of a church in Manhattan. This news comes on the heels of Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate, elevating a person who helped keep clergy abuse hidden during her time as District Attorney in San Francisco.

To us, these actions show just how much power religion has over our elected officials and speaks to the need for this issue to be addressed at the highest level of our government.

It is disturbing that Cardinal Dolan will lead the prayer for an alleged abuser at the RNC and it is disturbing that a candidate for our second-highest office allowed cases of clergy abuse to remain covered up in California. America is supposed to be a country where the separation of church and state is sacrosanct, but instead we see tightly-knit relationships between religious and political leaders. This is both bad for the country and especially bad for children.

If Cardinal Dolan is going to lead the prayer at the RNC, we ask that he use his power and influence to encourage the Republican National Convention to support actions and initiatives that make our communities safer and free of sexual violence.  Vigorous enforcement of laws and advocacy for reform of weak laws, at every level of governance, is the first step. Cardinal Dolan can be a powerful voice for those harmed by sexual violence, we ask that he use that voice to protect the vulnerable. 

Similarly, the DNC should ask tough questions about Senator Harris’ history in San Francisco and work policies to prevent future cases of clergy abuse into their party platform. We have written about the poor record of Sen. Harris in dealing with sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. National leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, have fallen short of full enforcement of laws which endangers our community. We need national leaders, not partisan politics, to ensure healthy and thriving communities.   

A critical step to preventing abuse is being able to talk about it. These conversations need to be happening at the highest level of government. We hope that after his prayer is over, Cardinal Dolan will use his influence to begin that conversation at the RNC.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 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)


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  • Daniel Buddy Robson Jr.
    commented 2020-08-20 09:45:37 -0500
    We need to turn our stories into real activism! It’s long past time to “take it to the streets”!

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