- 2003


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statements

On the Newly Disclosed 1962
Vatican Directive

Statement by
SNAP President Barbara Blaine of Chicago

(312 399 4747)

"The significance of this document may be more sociological than legal. It provides a rare window into the thinking and intent of the hierarchy's highest eschelons.

Often bishops excuse and defend their mishandling of molestation cases by claiming "We just didn't know. We didn't really understand." But this document shows that the highest ranking church officials, even four decades ago, did in fact have a clear sense of how damaging abuse by clergy is, and how critical it is to keep it hidden.

Some high ranking church officials maintain that this policy has since been 'superceded' by other changes in church policies in 1983 and 2001. Even granting this, it's hard to feel comfort in the fact that, for at least 20 years, the official Vatican policy apparently was 'keep sex crimes by priests a secret.'

And if, in fact, real changes were made in 1983 and 2001, why have we see so little improvements in how abuse cases have been handled by church leaders over this time span? On paper, policy changes have been made; but functionally, the emphasis on secrecy and cover up continues to this day.

Other church leaders, including Phoenix Archbishop Michael Sheehan, assert "the use of this document . . .is misleading. . ."

This is a lengthy document written decades ago in another language by officials in another country. Some phrases, therefore, have no doubt been misinterpreted.

Still, its overriding theme seems clear: keep sex crimes by clergy secret at all cost. Sadly, even today, we see that this obsession with secrecy still very much in force throughout much of the church's hierarchy."



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests