The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statements

Statement Regarding John Jay
Self-Survey Numbers


Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago (312 399 4747)
Founder and President of SNAP

February 27, 2004

It's clear what American bishops want. They want us to think it's all about a tiny group of bad apple priests long ago.

But it's not.

It's about the bishops, not the priests.
It's about the enablers, not the abusers.
It's about the cover up, not the crime.
It's about the present, not the past.

A passage from Luke, chapter 11, is very apt: "Who, if his child asks for bread, would give him a stone?" That's what most bishops are doing - giving us stones instead of bread.

Catholics want and deserve accountability from bishops.
Instead, we're given numbers of abusers.

Catholics want and deserve the full truth.
Instead, we're given carefully chosen partial numbers.

Catholics want and deserve ways to protect their kids.
Instead, we're given excuses and platitudes about privacy.

The Bible also tells us "the truth shall set you free."

And right now, we don't have it. We may be a tad closer, but we certainly aren't there. And we need to keep pushing until we get there. Victims hunger for the truth. Catholics deserve the truth. Kids, to be safe, need the truth.

Let's talk about our terminology for a minute.

The John Jay document is not a study, not a thorough accounting, or God forbid, not an investigation. It's a self-survey. Period. No independent corroboration, no spot-checking, no verification, no third party involvement.

It's also not a sign of greater openness. Keep in mind that this has been forced on the bishops by years of seemingly endless revelations, removals, prosecutions, admissions, exposes, verdicts, lawsuits, and excuses.

Now let's talk about the bishops' terminology for a minute. To the bishops, we say:

Stop the excuse making:
--- "Our understanding of abuse has evolved."

Stop the minimizing:
--- "Priests abuse at the same rate as others."

Stop the dodging:
--- "Most abuse occurs in the home."

Stop the distancing:
--- "Most cases date to the 70s and 80s."

Stop the self-praise.
--- "No other institution is doing such self-examination."

Stop the blaming.
--- "We relied on faulty experts."

These comments don't "provide perspective." They provide cover. They provide
false security. They provide excuses. And they hurt. These comments are unworthy
of true spiritual leaders.

Again, remember: it's not about "other people" perpetrators, therapists, parents, other professions. It's about you all, the bishops.

And what have you bishops done?

Let's look back for a moment. In1993, following the horrific Father James Porter case, church PR people, defense lawyers and insurance companies insisted that virtually every diocese adopt a written sexual abuse policy. Many dioceses established review boards. The bishops set up a national committee. Thick documents were produced. And the mantra became "We've got a committee. We've got policies. We're moving on." Is this sounding familiar?

Now the mantra is a largely the same with one new twist. From this day forward, the bishops' not-so-subtle message will basically be "We've got policies. We've got numbers. We're moving on."

In all fairness, this time around, ten years later, there has been more activity, more motion. But action doesn't necessarily mean progress. Motion doesn't necessarily mean forward motion.

There's lots of paperwork, policies, procedures, and press releases. There's tinkering around the edges. There are small, simple, non-controversial steps. But again, little substantive reform has occurred.

The numbers mean nothing if kids are at risk. Children, the most vulnerable members of our society come first. And let's be clear - children are at risk today!

We have a public safety crisis. The bishops admit there are 4000 priest child molesters, -- some have died, few are behind bars. But many are out there and they are not being monitored.

These child molesting priests were shielded from law enforcement by our bishops. These perpetrating priests are not mandated to provide their names & addresses on sex offender registries - but they pose no less threat to children than other child molesters who aren't priests.

The bishops have a moral and civic responsibility to release the names of these child molesting priests. A data base should be established so that law enforcement officials, employers and parents can know the truth about these men before they allow them access to more children, as tutors, coaches, scout leaders, counselors and teachers.

Lastly, we challenge the Bishops to stand firm on their commitments to zero tolerance. They made a promise the American Catholics, to the American people two years ago.

Their commitment is:

Quoting Bishop Wilton Gregory President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops,

"Bishops will not tolerate even one act of sexual abuse of a minor. No free passes. No second chances. No free strike. … An abuser … can indeed be forgiven for his sins. He just doesn't get a second chance to do it again. Period."

They said no priest, with even one credible allegation of child abuse would ever be returned to ministry. Grumblings from the Vatican say zero tolerance is too extreme. We say it is a mere minimum safeguard.

We say to the bishops: "Stand firm to your commitments! Keep perpetrators out of ministry! Keep kids safe!!"

SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests