Letters List


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Letters

Letter to Cardinal George

Thursday, March 05, 2009

His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
835 N. Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2030

Dear Cardinal George

We are clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( Our mission is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.

We have a simple but profound request: please don’t let the Servites appeal the new Oregon ruling in the Ronan case. Please let this victim’s case against the Pope move forward. Please demand that the Servite leaders stop fighting like cold-hearted CEOs and act instead like compassionate shepherds. We also ask that you and the Servites start aggressively reaching out to others who may have been hurt by this predator.

As you know, on Tuesday, a three judge appeals panel ruled that Fr. Ronan’s alleged sex abuse victim can sue the Vatican. Ronan apparently admitted that he molested three Chicago boys at St Philip's High School in the 1960s. He was then sent to a Portland where he abused again, according to at least two men from Oregon.

We know that the Servites have many legal options. But because one has a legal right, that doesn’t give one a moral right. (Men have the legal right to get married, lobby for the death penalty, visit strip clubs, and drive women to abortion clinics. But men give up those rights, morally, when they choose to become priests. And priests, we believe, voluntarily relinquish the right to act harshly in court when they hold themselves out at spiritual leaders who seek to emulate Christ.)

So we ask, in a spirit of charity and justice, that the Servites voluntarily forego their legal options, and fight in court (if they must) on the merits, not the technicalities. If their staff and predecessors have done no wrong, they should trust that the truth will emerge in the time-tested US justice system. We believe they (and other church officials) should stop taking advantage of every legal scheme and theory shrewd defense lawyers can devise. This case should be allowed to proceed and help everyone involved move toward truth, closure and healing, especially the brave man who has already waited for nearly seven years for some comfort and relief.

We know you aren't a Servite. But you are the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In that role, you can vigorously and publicly speak out against wrong-doing like this. You can also exert pressure privately on them. And you are the head of the Chicago archdiocese. In that role, you can also vigorously and publicly speak out against wrong doing like this. You could even insist that the Servites not work in your archdiocese if they insist on using these types of legal tactis.

In other words, even though Ronan is dead and you never signed his paycheck and this case is filed in Oregon, you are far from powerless. In fact, because Ronan was allowed to work here, and he molested here, and those crimes were kept hidden, we feel you have a duty to condemn the Servites' harsh legal moves in this case.

We're asking the Servites today to:
-- let this alleged child sex abuse victim have his “day in court,”
-- not appeal the new ruling that lets his case move forward, and
-- stop fighting the victim by exploiting legal technicalities and delay maneuvers.

We strongly urge you to use all your influence to help persuade the Servites to do this.

And we ask that you do what the Servites should also do - start using your considerable resources (church websites, archdiocesan newspaper, parish bulletins, mailing lists) to aggressively reach out to others who may have been hurt by Ronan, and beg them to come forward, get help and start healing.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Barbara Blaine
SNAP President
312 399 4747
David Clohessy
SNAP National Director
314 566 9790
Kate Botche
Companions in Hope
630 768 1860

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests