Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters


Letter to Bishop Gregory
regarding continuation of audits


May 12, 2004

Dear Bishop Gregory:

The regrettable decision by you and several dozen of your colleagues to delay, jeopardize, and perhaps cancel promised national "audits" on clergy sex abuse is harmful on many levels.

First, there is the betrayal. No doubt many lay people, victims, and priests will understandably feel deceived and misled once again by some of America's most influential prelates.

Next, there are the short-term practical damages, including the postponement and perhaps cancellation of a small, "baby step" toward change - the simple self-reporting of how dioceses claim they are meeting the bare-minimum standards bishops themselves set publicly and which went into effect only 14 months ago.

And finally, there is the deceptive way in which this backtracking took place. As dedicated, Catholic, lay-volunteers worked hard to release partial data about the clergy sexual abuse scandal, many of their own bishops were secretly undermining these belated efforts toward progress. For this secret letter campaign to take place while the audit data were being released, and be disclosed only after the lay volunteers on the National Review Board had served their main purpose for the bishops is truly shameful.

Repairing all this damage will be a long, painstaking process. Sadly, we fear that for some victims and Catholics, this latest betrayal will simply be the last straw, and they may give up hope, leave the church, or both.

This is why we are once again calling on you to demonstrate real, moral leadership for your brother bishops across the country. In the true spirit of “fraternal correction,” we believe you must quickly stave off this organized campaign against church child protection policies while there is still a chance to renew and reinforce the commitments of the Bishops Conference from Dallas in June 2002.

The upcoming US Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting next month in Denver has been publicly described as a closed "retreat." But under pressure from lay Catholics, your colleagues have agreed to privately discuss future "audits" of how bishops are responding to and preventing sexual abuse by clerics.

Because you and your colleagues have pledged to be more "open and transparent" regarding child sexual abuse, and because you need to reassure a troubled flock and already hurting victims, we ask that you open the Denver meeting up to more public participation and scrutiny.

At the very least, we are asking you to request that the Bishops Conference Administrative Committee meet a day in advance of your June conference in Denver to hear from the National Review Board, victims advocates, and other lay leaders in a public forum about these grave, new developments. This would demonstrate that when you sought the input of victims in Dallas, it was just a beginning and not an end to future dialogue and opportunities for input from those most directly affected by the decades of denial and dismissiveness by many of your brother bishops. This small but symbolic step might go far in undoing some of the damage caused by recent "backsliding" by bishops on the commitments they made less than two short years ago to protect children and support victims.

Some bishops will no doubt claim that everything is fine, nothing has changed, and the delay and uncertainty surrounding the so-called audits is insignificant. If that is indeed true, surely you and your brother bishops will want to prove this by your actions.

We feel that considerable good will result if you accept this simple proposal. As always, we in SNAP stand ready, despite our continued disappointments, to support you in this effort. Please respond directly and immediately to our request so that we may assist you in preparations for a forum in Denver in the most supportive and effective ways possible.


David Clohessy, Executive Director
(314) 566-9790

Barbara Blaine, President
(312) 399-4747

David Cerulli, Board Member
(917) 757-1791

Mark Serrano, Board Member
(703) 727-4940

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
P.O. Box 6416, Chicago, IL 60680-6416


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests