SNAP extremely frustrated that Catholic sexual abuse does not appear to be on the agenda for President Biden's meeting with the Pope

The White House announced on October 14th that President Joe Biden will meet with Pope Francis at the end of the month. We are very disgruntled that the topic of sexual abuse within Catholic institutions in the United States does not appear to be on the meeting's agenda.
 
A recent report commissioned by the French Catholic Bishops documented the cases of 2,900 to 3,200 priests who abused  216,000 minors and adults since the 1950s. The number of survivors in France is 320,000 if you add "lay" perpetrators who taught, coached, or advised in Church institutions.
 
In the United States, we are currently seeing an average of two arrests per month of trusted figures in Catholic facilities. SNAP statistics reveal that there have been 350 clergy and laypersons charged with abuse since 2004. BishopAccountability, the largest public library of information on the Catholic sex abuse scandal, has documented 3,000 more perpetrators since 2004. This number, added to the initial 4,300 plus names acknowledged by Church officials in the John Jay Report, brings the staggering total to over 7,000 abusers, and this figure is growing monthly. If the rate of clergy abuse in this country is similar to that in France, there are probably as many as 472,500 victims of Catholic clerics in the United States, 700,000 survivors of abuse in Catholic institutions, if you include those abused by lay brothers, nuns, employees, and volunteers.
Moreover, in a recent case, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed a lawsuit from survivors of abuse by Catholic clergy, ruling that the Vatican cannot be sued because it is a country. We agree with Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability who said in response, "The notions endorsed by the ruling, that the Pope isn't the boss of his bishops and that the Holy See didn't authorize the bishops' cover-up of abuse, are demonstrably untrue."
 
Just last week SNAP and other organizations called for the United States to form a Presidential Commission to investigate child sex abuse -- not just abuse in Catholic institutions -- modeled after successful commissions in other countries such as Australia. Our Executive Director, Zach Hiner said at the time, "This report from France is the latest to bring attention to the systemic nature of clergy abuse cover-ups perpetrated worldwide, and we know that responses from responsible institutions have been woefully inadequate. It is time for the United States to follow in the footsteps of countries like Australia, Ireland, and the UK and commission a federal level investigation and Presidential commission in order to determine what went wrong in the past and how we can prevent similar horrors in the future."
 
Given that the meetings between President Biden and the Pope will apparently not even touch on this issue, our pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears. We are frustrated and disappointed, but we will continue to lobby for this sorely-needed Commission.
 

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager,( [email protected], 267-261-0578) Becky Ianni, SNAP Virginia State Leader ([email protected], 703-801-6044), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) 

(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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