The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

5 Year Anniversary Vigils, Jan. 6 – 7, 2007

First, we ask that you join us in a moment of silence, to remember and honor those survivors who are no longer with us, especially those for whom the horrific pain became unbearable, and who took their own lives.

On January 6, 2002, the Boston Globe ran the first of what would ultimately become 850 stories about pedophile priests. The articles sparked the exposure and suspension of some 900 proven, admitted and credibly accused child-molesting clerics across the US. So in the eyes of many, the Catholic sex abuse and cover up crisis seems like it started five years ago.

The sad truth is, however, that clergy sex crimes and cover ups have gone on for decades, if not centuries. And the even sadder truth is that they're still happening now.

We are members of a self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

SNAP is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. Founded in 1989, we have more than 8,000 members and 65 support groups across the US. Most of our members were molested by Catholic priests, nuns, bishops, and seminarians. But a growing number were abused by religious figures in other denominations.

Our group has two goals: to heal the wounded and to protect the vulnerable.

We're here today because lots of healing and protection still needs to happen. And we're here today because secrecy and complacency don't safeguard kids. Vigilance protects kids. We must remain vigilant.

Why? Because innocent kids and vulnerable adults are still at risk. Because church officials are still reckless and secretive. Because there always have been and always will be sexually abusive clergy. Because bishops are working harder than ever at public relations, but fundamentally, they still protect their secrets more than they protect their flocks.

We want to briefly highlight three 'particularly egregious' cases:

- a Wisconsin priest, Fr. Ryan Erickson, who murdered two men in 2002, after one of them confronted him with allegations that he was molesting children,

- a Kansas priest, Fr. Robert Larsen, whose sex crimes against kids led five of his victims to commit suicide, and

- a California priest, Fr. Eric Swearingen, who was found guilty of child sexual abuse last month in a civil jury trial, yet remains in active parish ministry.

These cases show that even now, five full years after this crisis emerged onto the national stage, all of us must work harder to expose predators, protect kids, and heal victims.





Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests