Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, January 26, 2010

National abuse victims group react to big AK settlement

Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688)

We applaud the very courageous men and women in Alaska who have found the strength to report their abuse, expose their predators, protect other kids, take legal action, endure church delays, and finally achieve some measure of healing and justice. Alaska is a safer place today because of their bravery. And their suffering is at least slightly relieved, we hope, by their tremendous accomplishment, even though there remains considerable work to be done.

We are grateful to the hundreds who have courageously disclosed horrific serial sex crimes and the deceitful church cover ups of those crimes. We are proud of them and hope they are proud of themselves.

Regarding pedophile priests and corrupt bishops, the truth surfaces – even now - only through litigation - discovery, depositions and testimony. Without litigation, Catholics never learn who knew what about pedophile priests. And with the Chapter 11 process, often the church cover ups remain covered up.

That's why six bishops have gone this route - to avoid having to testify under oath and in open court about how much they knew and how little they did about predators on their payrolls.

Still, any time once-powerless victims are able to force a powerful prelate to the bargaining table, it is a victory for the vulnerable.

We are especially impressed by the abuse prevention steps Alaska victims are forcing Catholic officials to take. Kids will be safer when the bishop finally posts on his website the names of the proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests. Of course, the bishop should have voluntarily done this years ago. It’s a shame he has to be forced to take this simple, bare minimum step to warn citizens and Catholics about dangerous church employees. But again, we commend victims for pushing for this move and winning it.

Still, we urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups to speak up. We especially call on potential "whistleblowers" - current or former church employees or members - to disclose what they know about pedophile priests and cover ups. Many times, when victims come forward, church workers who have information about clergy sex crimes breath signs of relief, stay silent, and assume that deception and corruption will be exposed through litigation.

Some of that obviously is happening here. But we’re convinced many more secrets remain hidden, and until those secrets are revealed, it will be hard for Catholics to feel fully reassured, for victims to be fully healed and for children to be fully safeguarded.

So it's crucial that those who have knowledge or suspicions about child molestation and cover ups speak up right away. Tell therapists, police, journalists, or support groups like ours. But tell someone. Staying silent perpetuates abuse and rewards wrongdoers. Please, find the courage and strength to do what these brave Alaska victims have done: come forward.

We implore Fairbanks’ bishop to quickly and fully implement the non-economic reforms and prevention steps won by these victims. We urge him to be forthright about it, and admit, each time, that he’s taking these actions because he’s been forced to do so by compassionate, wounded and persistent victims. We urge the bishop to stop claiming he could have or would have done more sooner, except that litigation prevented it. That’s absurd and he knows it. For a very long time he did very little because he didn’t have to. Eventually though, as Martin Luther King said, “no lie lives forever.” Eventually, enough victims found enough strength to force the bishop’s hand, and some good has resulted. He needs to be honest about this.

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

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests