The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
to California Bishops
May 27, 2004
Dear California Bishops:
Over the next few weeks, more than 20 men will be ordained as priests in the dioceses in California. We in SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, urge you to help us reach out to them.
As you know, many church leaders have ignored and dismissed victims of abuse for many years. Despite the patterns of cover-up and disrespect shown in various ways over the decades to victims of abuse, we in SNAP continue to appeal to you and your colleagues to help us to protect children from these horrific crimes in the future. In particular, these upcoming ordinations provide another opportunity for such collaboration.
Victims of clergy abuse may be more apt to disclose to and seek help from new priests. We want to make sure that every priest fully understands that reporting known or suspected abuse to police and prosecutors is their civil and moral responsibility. We also want to make sure that they are trained to respond sensitively to victims of abuse.
Toward those ends, we urge you to do two things in the next few weeks:
1) Read or allow a SNAP member to read our attached letter at the ordination masses in hopes of ending the culture of silence, secrecy and cover-ups that has pervaded the Catholic Church for decades.
2) Work with SNAP by holding a joint mandatory sensitivity training session for all new priests that includes listening to survivors of clergy abuse. We ask that you also invite all priests in California to participate as well.
We believe that it is crucial that all priests be required to hear survivors' stories so victims can begin to heal and children can be better protected from abuse in the future. By better understanding our pain, priests could become more sensitive to all victims of abuse and hopefully become even more concerned about protecting kids rather than their abusive brother priests.
Sadly, decades of silence and cover-ups is not only undermining the credibility of these new priests today, but most importantly keeps vulnerable people at risk of abuse in the Catholic Church.
Please help us to end the cycle of abuse by helping to make sure that these new priests walk a path that protects children, not reputations, leads to openness not secrecy, and causes accountability not cover-up.
We want to make sure that no child suffers like we have, the horror of sexual abuse by a trusted clergy member.
Again, we in SNAP urge you to learn from our pain, have the courage to listen to our truth and make meaningful actions that will help victims come forward and report abuse, expose molesters and protect kids.
We look forward to your reply in the next few days so that we can coordinate arrangements for SNAP members to attend and participate at the ordinations.
Terri Light of Castro Valley (510)517-3338,
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests