Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. Louis University's choice for commencement speaker sparks debate; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003) SNAP outreach director

“What’s the use, nothing will change.”

“He’s coming anyway, we can’t stop that.”

“Graduation is such a nice event, I sure wouldn’t want any controversy.”

The excuses for inaction are many. The reasons to do nothing are innumerable.

But that’s what child molesting clerics count on. And that’s what corrupt church supervisors count on.

We’ve said it many times, and will say it again: When victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and Catholics speak up, there’s at least a chance for healing, justice, and prevention. But when they stay silent, that’s when nothing changes.

We applaud the brave and compassionate St. Louis University students, some 400 of them, who are speaking up about Sambi’s upcoming speech here. It takes courage to buck the prevailing culture of secrecy and comfort. We commend them for taking action. This is a university. If there can’t be honest dialogue and healthy dissent here, where can there be?

No one wants to tarnish any graduation ceremony. But it’s irresponsible to do nothing when a controversial envoy who has concealed child sex crimes, representing a controversial Pope who has concealed child sex crimes, comes to a controversy-ridden institution that has concealed child sex crimes.

It’s not clear what can or should be done. But it’s clear that SOMETHING can and should be done. Otherwise, silence is taken to be complacency about complicity.

A recent poll showed that
--- most US Catholics (and 75% of US citizens) feel that "child sexual abuse by Catholic priests is an ongoing problem."
--- 2/3 of US Catholics are upset about the Vatican's seemingly ceaseless refusal to effectively deal with the church's past and present hiding of predator priests.
---most American Catholics are sophisticated enough to realize that gay priests and celibacy requirements are NOT the root cause of the church's on-going cover up of clergy child sex crimes.
---almost 75% of US Catholics don't believe or don't know whether bishops are keeping their pledges to keep predatory priests away from kids.

We’re grateful that at least some SLU students share these beliefs and are willing to act on them.

As one of our leaders, Peter Isely, has said “The crux of the crisis is, and always has been, the virtually limitless power of the rigid, secretive, ancient, all-male and largely self-serving church hierarchy, which recklessly and callously conceals clergy sex crimes because, in a nutshell, it can. . .thanks to predator-friendly laws, shrewd defense lawyers, occasionally timid prosecutors, many unquestioning parishioners, and the complete lack of any external review, oversight, accountability or system of checks and balances on its unhealthy medieval, monarchial structure.”

We hope more in the SLU community will do something – anything – to voice their disapproval of this selection of a graduation speaker and of this church hierarchy’s continuing recklessness, callousness and deceit.

(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)

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests