Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, May 17, 2010

Vatican says Pope is not liable for day-to-day actions of priests; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director 314-862-7688

It's just disingenuous for the Pope to claim he's not in charge of the bishops he selects, appoints, transfers and supervises. The church isn't some loosely-knit hippie commune with diffuse authority. It's an ancient, rigid, crystal-clear hierarchy in which bishops ordain, transfer and supervise priests and in which the Pope selects, transfers and supervises bishops.

(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. 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 home, 314-503-0003 cell)

From The Times

May 18, 2010

Vatican says Pope is not liable for day-to-day actions of priests
James Bone, New York

The Vatican says that it cannot be held responsible for the day-to-day actions of Catholic bishops in America, as it scrambles to prevent the Pope from being called to give evidence in a landmark abuse case.

The argument will be made in a case brought by three Kentucky men who claim that they were abused by priests decades ago. The men — one of whom received compensation from the Archdiocese of Louisville under a previous court settlement — are claiming negligence by the Vatican. Their lawyer is trying to make the case a class-action suit on behalf of all US victims of sex abuse by priests and wants to force Pope Benedict XVI to testify.

The Vatican insists that it is not liable for any negligence by US Catholic bishops. Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s US lawyer, said yesterday that US bishops were not employees of the Holy See, did not act on Rome’s behalf and were not controlled day-to-day by the Pope. The Holy See denied that it had barred US bishops from reporting sex abuse by priests.

The Vatican outlined its defence against charges that it covered up abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the US as it attempted to thwart efforts to force the Pope to testify.

In a recent court submission the men’s lawyer said that newly disclosed documents “directly implicate Pope Benedict XVI’s involvement in the Holy See’s decision to cast a shroud of secrecy over clergy sexual abuse cases in the United States”.

The Kentucky case is the first US suit in which the judge must determine whether the abuse victims have a claim against the Vatican for failing to report the molestation. It could have implications for two other suits brought by alleged victims of abuse in Wisconsin and Oregon.

The Vatican argues that the US court has no jurisdiction in the issue because the Holy See is a sovereign state, and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act protects states from being sued in US courts except under certain circumstances.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests