- 2003


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statements

For Immediate Release:
Monday, June 30, 2003

Sex Abuse Victims Comment on
New Boston Archbishop

By Ann Hagan Webb, New England SNAP Co-Coordinator, 781-239-1182

We wish Archbishop O'Malley well and are willing to work with him to make the reforms so desperately needed here.

At the same time, it is crucial to realize that no one person can magically undo the horrific pain so many in this archdiocese feel: victims, their families, and parishioners.

Nor can any one person can keep kids safe. It takes vigorous and persistent work.

So while we welcome him, we believe that no bishop can 'clean up' sexual abuse in a diocese. That crucial task is being done by the men and women who painfully but courageously speak out about their abuse, expose their molesters, and contact police and prosecutors. It's also done by the brave parishioners and supportive loved ones who rally around victims and speak up themselves.

We in SNAP are troubled, however, by a few news reports that depict O'Malley as some sort of "reformer" or "pioneer" on this issue. Any such assessement is, at best, premature.

He did lead the Fall River diocese in the aftermath of serial predator priest James Porter. But one case does not make a track record.

And we are troubled by his unwillingness to do what Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore and others have done and release the names of known abusers in the priesthood.

We have seen no evidence that O'Malley made any particularly courageous or innovative steps to heal victims or prevent future abuse. At no time over the past decade or over the past 18 months  have we seen him take any notable national leadership on this issue.

Newly elected governmental figures sometimes enjoy a 'honeymoon' period. We can afford no such luxury here and now, when so many adults are wounded and so many children are vulnerable. No one who genuinely cares about the protection of youngsters should relent, retreat or retrench. Rather, everyone should redouble their efforts to heal victims and safeguard kids.

The Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is the nation's largest support group for clergy molestation victims. We started 2002 with less than 3,000 members and 9 active local chapters. The organization now has more than 4,600 members in virtually every state, and monthly support group meetings in 52 cities.

Roughly 98% of our members are survivors, 2% are family members. More than 90% were victimized by Catholic clergy (brothers, bishops, nuns, priests, and seminarians), the rest by Protestant clergy.

The overwhelming majority of victims who contact SNAP hear about the group first through the news media. Others learn about SNAP through the web site or their therapist.

For more info on O'Malley's tenure in Fall River, contact BrostolCounty District Attorney Paul Walsh (508) 997-0711.

For more information on SNAP statement:

David Clohessy, St. Louis, National Director (314) 566 9790 cell
Bill Gately, New England Co-Coordinator, (508) 524 4179 cell, (508) 743 0297 home
Mark Serrano, Leesburg VA, Board Member (703) 771 9606
Barbara Blaine, Chicago, President (312) 399 4747 cell
Mary Grant, Los Angeles (626) 419 2930 cell, (562) 433 3249 home
Terrie Light, San Francisco, Board Member (510) 517 3338

Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests