The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, July 15, 2010
2nd SNAP response to new Vatican guidelines
Statement by David Clohessy, director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
The Pope has pledged to “do everything possible” to prevent clergy sex crimes. Today's promises are far from “everything possible.” It’s heartbreaking to see a man who could and should do so much doing so little.
We’ve long pushed for action, not words, by the Vatican. This is, potentially, a tiny step closer to action. But it’s really just another in a long series of promises by church officials – in writing this time, rather than just verbal – that are rarely kept.
Even if these guidelines are uniformly followed (and history proves they likely won’t be), little will change and few will be protected.
The crisis isn’t due to inadequate church policies. It’s due to reckless, secretive and self-serving church officials, who seem to consistently value their own comfort and reputations over the safety of their flocks. Tweaking existing church policies won’t have real impact on bishops’ behavior and won’t make the changes that kids need to be safe.
Hundreds of thousands of children across the world have been molested because bishops usually won’t tell the truth, call police, suspend accused priests quickly, monitor them closely, prod other victims to speak up, or back secular legislative reforms.
We suspect that thousands of dangerous clerics are in parishes today, not because defrocking guidelines are inadequate, slow or confusing, but because bishops are timid, fearful and callous.
The AP reports that, “The bulk of the new document merely codified the ad hoc norms for dealing canonically with pedophile priests that have been in use 2001.” So today’s guidelines mostly formalize what church officials have been saying for years. Merely tweaking a secretive, discredited and ineffective process will protect very few. Radically reforming bishops’ actual behavior is needed, not just refining official policy on paper.
Austen Ivereigh, European correspondent for a Jesuit magazine, said, “Today's changes, widely trailed, do not add up to much.” We concur. And in a crisis of such astonishing length, breadth and consequences, doing little is acting irresponsibly.
The Vatican’s ‘point man’ on abuse, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, admitted to the AP today that, "These new norms on sexual abuse really put into law the practice of (the CDF.)" We don’t need harmful practices put into law. We need harmful practices to stop.
Even now, not a single Catholic employee on the planet has lost even a single day’s pay for ignoring or concealing child sex crimes. Until that happens, church policies will largely remain just window dressing.
AN EARLIER BUT STILL RELEVANT SNAP STATEMENT RE THESE VATICAN GUIDELINES:
For immediate release: Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Pope to revise sex-abuse norms; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003)
There needs to be massive overhaul, not mere tweaking, of how the church deals with abuse and cover up.
How quickly predator priests are defrocked isn't the crux of the crisis. Church officials, not church policy, are the crux of the crisis. As long as bishops can ignore and conceal child sex crimes without punishment, they'll keep ignoring and concealing child sex crimes.
We don't need minor changes to church policy but massive changes to church practice and culture. History has shown that in this secretive, ancient, rigid all-male monarchy, abuse policies are widely ignored.
Once again, church officials fixate on the 'tail end' of the crisis, and not on the front end. The focus needs to be on catching predators more quickly, involving secular law enforcement, and preventing recklessness and deceit by bishops, who can, and should take many steps to protect the vulnerable long before the defrocking process begins.
Defrocking predators more quickly is no panacea. Its main impact is limiting the legal liability of church officials. There should never be a statute of limitations on child sex crimes or cover ups- not in civil, criminal or canon law. Twenty years beats ten years of course, but increasing access to a secretive, corrupt system isn't much reform.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected])
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests