- 2003


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statements

Statement Regarding Abusive Priests Still in Ministry


November 10, 2003

Statement by Terrie Light,
SNAP leader of San Francisco
Tel 510 517 3338

List of Abusive Priests Still in Ministry

"For months, we have seen the weak and vague Dallas Charter be reluctantly and sporadically enforced. Compassion toward victims, openness, outreach to victims - these pledges and others are vague enough that bishops can avoid following them and still pat them-selves on the back for their so-called progress.

But one promise was very clear. It was the most important promise: the pledge to remove accused priests promptly pending investigations.

Sadly, even now some bishops are not fulfilling that pledge.

Today, we're distributing a list of 13 cases from this year, 2003, in which known or suspected priest-abusers have remained in or have been restored to active ministry. Six of them are in ministry today.

Perhaps the most egregious is the case of Monsignor Martin Ryan of The Diocese of Bridgeport. Bishop Lori has admitted Ryan abused, paid one of his victims a large settlement, but has fallen back on the same old, dangerous rationalizations that have led to this painful crisis: it was one instance, it happened years ago, he's gone to treatment, he's no longer a risk. . .

Let us be clear: hundreds of molesters HAVE been removed. There HAS indeed been progress. The church IS a safer place today than it was two years ago.

But it's not as safe as it should be. Nor is it as safe as many bishops would have us believe.

The reason, in a word, is hairsplitting. Some bishops continue to split hairs, parse words, make excuses, and err on the side of protecting accused priests rather than innocent kids.

The excuses seem to be increasingly creative:

Yes, he abused, but he was a seminarian, not an ordained priest.
Yes, he abused, but his old diocese didn't tell us.
Yes, he abused, but he was drunk and his intent wasn't sexual.

These are just the ones we know about and can be publicly documented. Every single one of them is from this year, 2003, a full six months or more AFTER the Charter was passed. We fear there are more. There are still bishops, like Egan in New York, who have still refused to identify molesters and determine their status.

Remember these cases when bishops try to pretend that everything is hunky-dory.

A word now about the so-called audits. . . .

It's important to remember the big picture here. In essence, the bishops have drawn up the rules of the game, hired the umpires, and are now declaring they're winning.

Fundamentally, it's still voluntary self-reporting, so we urge caution in interpreting any results.

From our perspective, these are not genuine "audits," in which independent professionals can force access to independent records. These are basically interview teams, largely getting access to only that information that chancery officials are willing to share.

Ultimately, we of course do not know what the so-called audits will show. We are glad they are being done. We believe they are better than nothing. We wish the scope of the audits were more expansive.

And we worry that they're being "oversold" and misunderstood. We worry that they will lead to disappointment on the part of those seeking true "openness and transparency." At the same time, we worry that they will lead to premature complacency on the part of those who just want this horrific scandal to go away.

The so-called audits, like the Charter itself, are words on paper. Words on paper don’t protect children, decisive action protects children."

David Clohessy of St. Louis 314 566 9790
Barbara Blaine of Chicago 312 399 4747
Peter Isely of Milwaukee 414 428 7259
Mark Serrano of Leesburg VA 703 727 4940


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests