Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bishops share $$ for politics, not abuse victims

Statement by Peter Isely of Milwaukee, national board member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (414-429-7259)

When it comes to helping colleagues with politics and ballot measures, bishops find ways to share money. When it comes to helping abuse victims with recovery, bishops refuse to share money, claiming they're all 'independent.' Each diocese - large or small, richer or poorer - pretends they're isolated from one another, so abuse victims in many dioceses get chump change despite enduring horrific pain.

We've never seen a bishop donate to victims in another diocese. We've never even seen a bishop ASK his colleagues for money to help abuse victims. Yet when it comes to political issues, clearly they help one another. Sad priorities. . .

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Peter Isely (414-429-7259), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688, 314-503-0003 cell)

Archdiocese gives $50K to Maine marriage fight by Jen Colletta

Marriage equality suffered a setback last week when voters in Maine overturned the state’s same-sex marriage law in a ballot initiative that drew intense debate and financial contributions from throughout the country — including from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

According to campaign finance reports, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland donated $553,608.27 toward the passage of Question 1, and $50,000 of that funding came from the Philadelphia archdiocese.

Donna Farrell, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, declined to comment on the source of the $50,000.

The Portland, Me., diocese was the second-largest contributor to the Yes on 1 effort, donations for which were organized under the umbrella agency Stand for Marriage Maine. New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage took the top spot with donations totaling more than $1 million.

The Philadelphia archdiocese, which made the donation Aug. 26, is tied with the Archdiocese of Phoenix as the top contributor to the Portland diocese’s effort to specifically fight marriage equality; the diocese previously received an undesignated contribution of $100,000 from an individual donor, and chose to put the donation toward Yes on 1.

The next largest diocesan donation after Philadelphia and Phoenix was $10,000, given by the Diocese of Newark in New Jersey, as well as several other Catholic dioceses throughout the country.

Stand for Marriage reported donations totaling about $2.5 million, while marriage-equality supporters, organized under No on 1, solicited about $4 million.

Voters approved the ballot question Nov. 3 by a 53-47-percent vote, nullifying the marriage-equality law approved by the legislature in the spring.

The local donation was made about a month-and-a-half before the archdiocese announced it was closing Northeast Catholic High School and Cardinal Dougherty High School, as it could no longer afford to keep the schools open with decreasing enrollment.

Farrell said the Maine contribution was made at the prompting of Bishop Richard Malone of Portland.

“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia did make a contribution to the Diocese of Portland’s efforts against the legalization of gay marriage in Maine,” Farrell said. “The bishop of Portland requested a donation from all of the United States bishops to assist with education to help people understand the timeless teaching of the church that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Sue Bernard, a spokesperson for the Diocese of Portland, confirmed Malone sent out a letter to dioceses throughout the country requesting assistance.

“We’re a pretty small diocese compared to other dioceses, and we simply didn’t have the resources to try to mount a campaign or help Stand for Marriage Maine in a way that would be effective on our own,” Bernard said.

The Portland diocese contributed approximately $155,500 from its own general treasury to Stand for Marriage, as well as the $100,00 donation, and another $41,000-plus brought in through special church collections. The diocese also made four payments of more than $7,612.98 each to Stand for Marriage to cover the salary of the “one-and-a-half” diocesan employees working at the Stand for Marriage headquarters.

Bernard said representatives of the Portland diocese advocated for Yes on 1 through community discussions but contributed all of the donated money directly to Stand for Marriage Maine.

Besides the Philadelphia archdiocese, the Diocese of Pittsburgh contributed $5,000, the Diocese of Erie donated $1,000 and the dioceses of Scranton and Altoona-Johnstown both contributed $500. The Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., sent in $500, and the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., which recently filed for bankruptcy stemming from the long list of priest sex-abuse lawsuits pending against it, contributed $200.

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests