SNAP Responds to Statement by New Orleans Saints Owner
Saints owner Gayle Benson last night released a statement “clarifying” her organization’s role in the clergy abuse list released by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Rather than release statements, we believe the best way for Mrs. Benson to truly clarify the situation would be to release the emails exchanged between the Saints and Catholic officials.
If the Saints have nothing to hide, the organization should simply produce all 276 emails it exchanged with the Archdiocese about the list the Archdiocese curated. Mrs. Benson claims that the Saints had no influence on the creation of the list. If that’s the case, the emails should prove it easily.
We are especially concerned about this case because the archdiocese admits to 57 abusers, but independent watchdogs at BishopAccountability.org name at least 79. There obviously is a math problem in Louisiana, and this math works out to more danger for the vulnerable in the state.
We continue to believe a secular investigation is the only way that the greater New Orleans community can ever get to the truth about sex abuse inflicted by priests on children. Whenever secular authorities use their power to execute search warrants, subpoena witnesses and compel testimony, secret archives get unlocked, the truth comes out and the hair-splitting ends. Secular investigations have consistently shown more names and higher rates of abuse than the numbers released by church officials.
Of the seventeen investigations carried out by grand juries, attorneys general or bankruptcy courts, abuse rates have been 7% or higher, many times the national average. The ratio of predators to parishioners is down around 1 per 4,000 in those investigated dioceses. Right now, New Orleans has an unknown sex abuse rate, yet its purported ratio of predators to parishioners is one to 7,000, nearly double the national averages. Something is not right.
The AP recently reported that 40% of all abusive priests are alive, and most are not monitored. Because they are not monitored, they are dangerous. Pedophiles never stop being pedophiles. A recent USA Today report described how clerics kicked out of the Catholic church or sent out of the diocese in which they abused often migrate to jobs where they continue to have access to children, such as counselors, teachers, or therapists.
The simple fact is that until Archbishop Gregory Aymond tells the complete truth about the clergymen who abused in his diocese, parishioners and the public will not know how to act to protect the vulnerable in our communities. Transparency is what is sorely needed.
We call on the Attorney General of Louisiana to intervene and open an investigation. We renew our call to the NFL and Roger Godel to investigate the New Orleans Saints, and if appropriate, to fine the organization and then donate those proceeds to groups that advocate for victims and fight against the sex abuse of children.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)