Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

SNAP challenges 4 US bishops

Statement by Mary Guentner of Milwaukee SNAP, 414 419 3191 (abused as a child by a nun)

We are members of support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Our goal is to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.

A few short years ago, when addressing Iris bishops on the church’s on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis, Pope Benedict said “It is important to establish the truth of what happened.” That’s what we’re seeking today.

For weeks now, an international firestorm has raged over how Vatican officials handled and mishandled the case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy of Wisconsin. He allegedly molested 200 kids. He admitted molesting 34. He was quietly sent from a school for the deaf to an unsuspecting rural community where he molested again.

And at a crucial, hotly-disputed 1998 meeting, four US Catholic clerics met face-to-face with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s top aide to discuss whether Murphy would face charges in the church’s secret, internal court process. He never did.

Since then, dozens and dozens of cardinals, bishops, and other Catholics – commentators, lay people, professors, and others – have disputed news accounts that essentially hold the Pope and his #2 man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, responsible for the mishandling of the Murphy case.

None of those weighing in, however, were in the room when the decision was made. Yet they’re all “backing the boss” and claiming he and other Vatican bureaucrats did no wrong. Yet Murphy went on to molest again.

Guess who’s not talking, however? The four US Catholic clerics who WERE in that room.

Today, we challenge those, all of whom are now bishops, to “come clean.” We ask them to show a little bit of spine, get out of their bunkers, cast aside their PR staff and defense lawyers and excuses, and face the music.

Specifically, we urge them to “establish the truth of what happened,” and
-- openly discuss and take questions about the Murphy case, and
-- publicly and personally apologize for and explain why they kept silent about Murphy for so long, enabling him to sexually assault others and further wounding dozens, perhaps hundreds of his already suffering victims.

Is this too much to ask? Isn’t this what Catholics and citizens, and the still-suffering Murphy victims, deserve? Isn’t this what’s needed if there’s even a chance for real healing?

Today, we are also trying to buy small ads in two diocesan newspapers to try to find and help others who were molested by Murphy and other church workers.

If we’re allowed to buy them, the ads will say

“Abused by clergy? You can expose predators, protect kids, heal yourself and deter recklessness. But only if you speak up. We’re a confidential self help group. We’re here to help. SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 1 877 SNAPheals.”

We do this kind of outreach for two reasons. First, because it’s the right thing to do. Second, because it’s effective. Often victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers will step forward if gently but firmly urged to do so.

This is what church officials should do in virtually every single case of a credible allegation against a priest, nun, bishop, seminarian, brother or lay employee. This, however, is what church officials virtually never do.

In addition, bishops should promptly and personally visit each site where a proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric worked, and emphatically beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered crimes to call police and other independent sources of help. But again, they virtually never do.

Murphy is dead. He can’t hurt anyone any more. But those who shielded Murphy may still some day face criminal charges. And those who were hurt by Murphy deserve to know they aren’t alone, it’s not their fault, and recovery is possible. . . if they step forward.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests