The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Statement by Mary Grant, Regional Director
July 28, 2003
"We in SNAP are here today to ask a simple question "Why Take A Risk With Kids' Safety?"
A few short weeks ago, SNAP members publicly called upon current and former church employees to break their silence and tell what they know about abuse within the church.
Today we are very grateful to former diocesan employee, Fernando Guido, who turned over to police evidence of kiddie porn on Father _____ 's computer. We are also grateful Mr. Guido has prodded church leaders to remove the cleric and for speaking up to protect youngsters.
We join him in wanting to see this priest removed. Again, why take a risk with the safety of children?
We'd like to believe that is case is an aberration. Sadly, it is not. Until last week, an Orange County parish employed a convicted child molester. The man, John Catanzaro, was fired only after and because of negative publicity. Church leaders claim they just found out about his conviction recently. Still, they delayed in removing him.
There are three common denominators in these cases.
First, the well being of others - known or suspected abusers, the diocese itself - are given a higher priority
Second, church leaders defend themselves by using the kind of hairsplitting we expect of politicians, not religious figures. In one case, the excuse is "Well, our national charter covers priests, not lay people." In the other case, the excuse is "Well, child porn is not sexual abuse."
Excuses do not protect children. Courageous, decisive action does. And that's what Catholics deserve and what children need - courageous, decisive action.
Third, in both cases, the truth comes out only because of brave laypeople and persistent reporters. Church leaders continue to keep dangerous secrects, despite repeatedly assuring us that a new day of "transparency and openness" has dawned.
These actions- this parsing of words, keeping of secrets, and splitting of hairs - should alarm and embarrass Orange County Catholics.
We should also remember that two victims who have served on the diocese's lay review panel overseeing abuse cases have quit. That should tell Orange County Catholics that something is wrong here.
We in SNAP worry that other panel members, well intentioned and caring Catholics, may also end up quitting and feeling disillusioned and mislead. SNAP members want to meet with the entire board to voice their concerns.
We applaud those conscientious Catholics who serve on this body. But we worry about them, and want to meet soon to convey what we know, suspect and fear about abuse in this diocese.
Some time ago, SNAP asked Bishop Tod Brown to publish notices in all parish bulletins about our support group. What could possibly be a more simple and more clear sign that the bishop genuinely wants to help victims than this?
Today, we are repeating this request. Please, Bishop Brown, help us reach others who are hurting. If you won't take adequate steps to ensure the safety of children today, at least take steps to help heal the children who have already been hurt.
And we continue to urge church staff - current and former employees, to speak up to protect kids. If you have any information that might indicate abuse happening, please call the police or the prosecutors.
It's clear that the Orange County diocese does not put the safety
of kids first. So the rest of us must find the courage and strength
to do so."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests