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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters


Letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory


February 23, 2004

Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, President
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20017-1194

Dear Bishop Gregory,

Today we learned of Vatican efforts to “rethink” the zero tolerance policy approved by U. S. bishops in Dallas in 2002.This policy has been in effect a very short time and been enforced only sporadically. To even consider further gutting an already weak policy at this point we believe is extremely unwise.

Changing this policy will provide excuses for bishops who are already backsliding on the promises made in Dallas in June of 2002. We believe it will also provide cover for manipulative perpetrators, as well as deepen the disillusionment of many Catholics and already very pessimistic, wounded victims.

For decades, the hierarchy's policy has been deny, stonewall, minimize, evade, deceive, and transfer. For a few months, the policy has allegedly been 'zero tolerance.' Are we to go backwards now to those horrific old days already?

Sex offenders need to be behind bars. Once that happens and kids are safe, then let's figure out what to do about job titles. Of course, we also believe these men need treatment, but first and foremost we must protect children.

This report misses the mark on so many levels. First, only a tiny percentage of abusive clergy face being defrocked. Second, so-called experts chosen by the hierarchy have historically given disastrous advice about offending priests.

To molest a child, you need access. The title 'priest' and the power of the Roman collar give a sexual abuser that access. We strongly urge you and your fellow bishops not to weaken a policy, which in its ideal form, will help protect children.

Please fight hard to protect the already weakened "one strike" policy in this country and work with your colleagues elsewhere to make sure it becomes the policy if the church world wide.


David Clohessy
Barbara Dorris


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests