- 2003


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statements

June 20, 2003

Sex Abuse Victims Name Model Bishop:
Paul Bootkoski from the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey

SNAP Cites 8 Positive Steps Taken By Prelate

June 20, 2003/St. Louis, MO - At a press conference today, Mark Serrano, Board Member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, made the following statement:

"It has been one year since Catholic Bishops set a new standard for their own approach to protecting children and supporting clergy sexual abuse victims in our journey of healing.

In our search for a leader among the bishops, the standard has been very low.

We have been in search of a voice. We have been in search of a seat at the table to protect children and assist victims. We have been in search of bishops who would support prosecutors in their efforts to make sexual predators in the priesthood accountable under the criminal law. We have been in search of bishops who will not fight victims in the courtroom, but will aid in their healing by ending the fight. We have been in search of moral leaders.

Sadly we have seen few signs of bishops living up to their commitments from Dallas one year ago. In fact we have seen more signs of bishops violating both the letter and spirit of the church law to protect children and support victims.

Nonetheless, we are here today to acknowledge that there is a bishop in America who is willing to apply common sense solutions to this crisis in the church.

Since one year ago in Dallas, this bishop has served as the model bishop in America for supporting clergy sexual abuse victims. This bishop stands in contrast among bishops across the country, and even the bishops in his own state of New Jersey, where victims do not have a safe place to turn for help in most of the dioceses.

Though there is more work to be done in his diocese, we have the opportunity for an ongoing dialogue with this bishop and a seat at his table for further improvements.

This bishop is Paul Bootkoski from the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey.

In this time Bishop Bootkoski has:

-- Been publicly praised by a prosecutor for fully cooperating in the successful criminal proceedings against an abusive priest, Fr. John M. Banko of Milford;

--Refused to let Banko wear his Roman collar in court;

--Took the initiative to contact SNAP leaders, and has met with SNAP;

--Is the only bishop to name three survivors, including a SNAP member, to his review panel;

--Increased the involvement of laity in diocesan decision-making;

--Settled eight lawsuits that were apparently time-barred by the statute of limitations,
ü Met privately with and apologized to each of the victims.

--Won praise from two civil attorneys (Ed Ross of Margate and Patrick J. Bradshaw of New Brunswick

We want to thank Bishop Paul Bootkoski for his leadership, for setting the right example for his brother bishops, and for being the model bishop in America.

We hope that one year from now we can identify hundreds of bishops who have decided to accept a change in attitude, a change in heart, and a change in compassion for those who have been sexually abused by priests and others in the church.

We hope that Catholic Bishops will follow Bishop Bootkoski's lead and allow the healing to begin".

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SNAP is the leading self-help support group in the nation for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, with over 4,500 members across America.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests