Press Release



Press Release


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims


June 15, 2005

Sex Abuse Victims Seek National Catholic Reward Fund

It Would Prod More Church Employees to Report Molesters

They Also Want "Mandatory Personal and Public Outreach" By Bishops To Victims

More Must Be Done to "Break the Culture of Secrecy" in Church, SNAP Says

On the eve of American's Catholic bishops' meeting, at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will urge church officials to

-- create and finance a nationwide reward fund to encourage people to report suspected sexual misconduct by church employees, and

-- reform their national abuse policy to require "real outreach" not passive public relations, to find and help more victims and enable more criminal prosecution

TODAY, Wednesday, June 15, 2:00 p.m.

On the bridge across from the Fairmont Hotel, (200 North Columbus) in downtown Chicago (where 300 American Catholic bishops are staying and meeting this week)

Five-ten clergy sex abuse victims who are leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a nation-wide support group

Charging that a deeply-rooted "climate of secrecy" still afflicts the Catholic church, SNAP believes that bishops must send a strong signal to church staff and members that reporting abuse is crucial and will strengthen, not weaken, the church. (Thus far, the group maintains, so-called "reforms" adopted by bishops during the sex abuse crisis have largely been "window dressing.") SNAP wants the hierarchy to establish a new, national fund offering monetary rewards for information leading to the conviction of sexually abusive church employees.

This would be, they feel, both a sign of good faith and a tangible step toward safer parishes.

In addition, the victims believe bishops should personally visit each parish where a proven, admitted or credibly accused priest has worked, and emphatically
beg anyone who experienced, suspected, or witnessed sex crimes to contact police, prosecutors, therapists or self-help groups. This should be mandated by the US Bishops Conference sex abuse policy, which is set to be revised this week.

Instead, virtually every bishop now sits passively back, waiting for victims to come forward, issuing only generic comments about victims speaking up in diocesan news releases when bishops feel public pressure to do so.

SNAP believes the abuse guidelines, first adopted three years ago, are already weak and vague, and will be further "watered down" by the prelates at this meeting.

Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP President 312 399 4747
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP Midwest Regional Director 414 429 7259
Mary Guentner of Milwaukee, SNAP Wisconsin Director 414 418 3191
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director 314 566 9790

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests