Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pope: sex scandal church's "greatest persecution"; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Blaine, SNAP President 312 399 4747 , [email protected],

The Pope does a disservice to children, victims, and Catholics by trying to perpetrate the myth that the church is somehow a 'victim' in its on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis. Children are victims - those who have been ravaged and those who are being ravaged. He seems incapable of even describing the crisis in a helpful, accurate and appropriate way, much less effectively addressing it.

Many are tiring of hearing about his "strong comments." They want to see strong action. Most of all, kids need strong action.

In a few hours, in Springfield MA, our group will again publicly expose for the first time a credibly accused Italian cleric whose crimes have led to at least two quiet settlements with victims. When will the Pope begin at least disclosing predator priests and disciplining complicit bishops, so that children will be safer, truth will be revealed and justice will done?

When does his 'talking' stop and his 'doing' start?

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members across the globe. 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

Contacts: David Clohessy (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312 399 4747), Mark Serrano (703 727 4940), Peter Isely (414 429 7259), Barbara Dorris (314 503 0003)

Pope: sex scandal church's "greatest persecution"


LISBON, Portugal — Pope Benedict XVI says the clerical abuse scandal represents "the greatest persecution of the church," but said it was born from sins inside the church, not outside.

He called for profound purification and penance within the church as well as pardon and justice.

In some of his strongest comments to date, Benedict said the Roman Catholic Church had always suffered from internal problems but that "today we see it in a truly terrifying way."

He made the comments aboard his plane en route to Portugal Tuesday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI was traveling to Portugal on Tuesday to speak about Europe's economic crisis and urge Europeans to uphold Christian values and seek solace in their faith.

At the start of his four-day visit, the pontiff was to celebrate an open-air Mass for 80,000 people at a 16th-century riverside square in Lisbon on Tuesday.

The pontiff will speak about "the joy of faith and hope" as a remedy for the gloom of financial hardship, said Carlos Azevedo, the auxiliary bishop of Lisbon and the visit's coordinator. "The moral values guiding the economy and politics show that there is a spiritual crisis," Azevedo told a news conference Monday, adding: "Europe needs to be awoken."

Benedict, who was flying from Rome to Lisbon on Tuesday morning, has been alert to the social problems caused by the economic crisis, and the timing of his visit has proved especially apt in Portugal. It is western Europe's poorest country and has become one of the main casualties of the continent's economic troubles.

The pope's 2009 encyclical "Charity in Truth" specifically addressed the global financial meltdown, and he has repeatedly pressed leaders to ensure the world's poor don't bear the brunt of the financial pain. Benedict says the downturn shows the need to rethink the purpose of the global financial system.

The pontiff will convey "a message of hope which says it is possible, if we are guided by ethical and spiritual values, to find paths to a new future," Azevedo said.

On Wednesday, Benedict will go to the famous Catholic shrine at Fatima, in central Portugal — a centerpiece of his visit. He visits Porto, the country's No. 2 city, on Friday before returning to the Vatican.

Portugal's economic growth has been pedestrian for years, averaging less than 1 percent between 2001-2008, and the global downturn brought a steep contraction of 2.7 percent last year.

The result is that last year around 342,000 people took home the minimum salary of just euro475 ($615) a month. That was roughly double the number who earned that much in 2006. The average Portuguese salary is estimated at around euro900 ($1,160) a month.

A three-year austerity plan to ease the country's crippling debt load is expected to bring greater hardship to a people already feeling the pinch.

The Catholic church provides welfare programs and food handouts for the needy. Portuguese bishops last year called attention to what they called "scandalous levels of misery."

Benedict is also expected to address the drift in Portugal, and in much of western Europe, away from church teaching on key issues.

Portugal's center-left Socialist government passed a law in 2007 allowing abortion on demand. In 2008, it introduced a law allowing a judge to grant a divorce even if one of the spouses is opposed. In January, Parliament passed a bill seeking to make the country the sixth in Europe allowing same-sex couples to marry. Conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silvo now has to decide whether to veto or ratify the bill.

Azevedo said one of the pope's main themes in Portugal would be the need "to awaken slumbering Christians and also, to some extent, a Europe whose values have become somewhat decadent, to different values."

No cases have been reported in Portugal of physical or sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy — allegations which have recently unsettled the church in several European countries.

Portugal is nearly 90 percent Catholic, but only around 2 million of the country's 10.6 million people describe themselves as practicing Catholics.

Religious sentiment, however, runs deep. At least 500,000 people are expected to attend the pope's Mass in Fatima on May 13, the anniversary of the day in 1917 when three Portuguese shepherd children reported having visions of the Virgin Mary.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests