The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Nebraska Catholic Bishops


February 15, 2007

Statement by SNAP national director David Clohessy of St. Louis
314 566 9790

We're here today for three reasons.

First, we're here to ask Nebraska's Catholic bishops to use their considerable resources to aggressively reach out to anyone suffering in shame, isolation and self-blame because they were molested by clergy. Bishops each have websites, newspapers, dozens of church bulletins and hundreds of church employees that could be used to prod the wounded to come forward, call the police and get help. Bishops can and should, we believe, personally visit each parish where a known, suspected, or credibly accused abuser worked, and gently but emphatically urge anyone with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes - whether as a victim or a witness - to call law enforcement and get professional help.

Jesus told us to leave the 99, go out into the rain and the dark, to find and help the lost and wounded sheep. Jesus didn't tell us to sit by the phone and wait until they call. Bishops should follow Jesus' teaching.

Second, we're here to ask Nebraska's Catholic bishops to take a simple, inexpensive, proven step toward protecting kids: disclose and post on church websites the names of every proven, admitted, or credibly accused church employee - whether current or former, whether priest, seminarian, nun, bishop or lay teacher. This is the absolute bare minimum each Catholic bishop should do. Bishops recruit, educate, ordain, hire, transfer, shield and defende pedophile clergy. The least they can to is warn parents about them and protect kids from them. Knowledge is power, and if Catholics, neighbors and prospective employers know who these dangerous men are, they can keep their loved ones safer.

Begrudgingly and belated, almost always in response to public pressure, 15 bishps have taken this step. It helps heal victims and safeguard kids. It's a cheap, common sense move toward public safety. Nebraska's bishops should do likewise.

Third, we're here to ask Nebraska's Catholic officials to show some spine, honor their promises, and publicly denounce Lincoln's bishop, Fabian W. Bruskewitz. On child sex abuse, he's the most recalcitrant bishop in the country.

Five years ago, each US bishop pledged to honor a weak, vague national policy on child sex abuse. The policy, inadequate though it is, is at least a low standard. But Bruskewitz ignores it. He essentially thumbs his nose at abuse victims, Catholics, and his colleagues. Yet his colleagues stay silent.

Five years ago, each US bishop pledged to correct one another when the national abuse policy is violated. Virtually none has done so.

What message does it send - to church officials, to Catholics, to victims - when a bishop does wrong and isn't even criticized, much less disciplined? The message is clear: the Catholic hierarchy isn't serious about healing victims or protecting kids.

When wrong-doing goes unacknowledged and unpunished, wrong-doing is essentially rewarded. That's what US bishops are doing to Bruskewitz-basically rewarding him for violating their own weak national abuse policy.

Omaha's archbishop should particularly speak up. He is the titular head of the Catholic church in Nebraska. But Grand Island's bishop should also speak up. It's shameful that they've kept silence. In fact, it's shameful that virtually all of Bruskewitz's peers remain silent in the face of such intransigence.

Why make these requests today? Because five years ago, the clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis burst onto the national scene. Because since then, the so-called 'reforms' by bishops have been proven to be ineffective. And because kids deserve safety, Catholics deserve healing, and citizens deserve the truth.


David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director 314 566 9790 cell

Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Outreach Director 314 862 7688

Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP President and Founder 312 399 4747



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests