Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Saturday, September 18, 2010

SNAP responds to papal meeting with a few victims

Statement by Mark Serrano of Leesburg VA, board member of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (703-727-4940)

Every time clergy sex crimes and cover ups are discussed, it can be positive. We hope that will be the case with today’s meeting of several abuse victims with the Pope.

We hope each of these brave individuals feels better as a result of the meeting, both now and years from now. It takes real courage to disclose your pain to others, especially those in authority. We hope the risk these victims have taken will prove to be fruitful, for them, for other victims and for children being molested today and in the future.

Sadly, most victims end up feeling hurt, betrayed and misled after dealing with church officials. At least two of those who met with the pontiff in the US several years ago now apparently feel somewhat disappointed.

(From the Wall Street Journal a week ago: Bernie McDaid, of Boston, was among those who met privately with the pope during his U.S. visit in 2008, but now dismisses the gathering as a Vatican "PR move."

With no disrespect to anyone, in a fundamental sense of course, today’s meeting is more of the same from the Pope: all talk, no action. With literally the stroke of a pen, of course, he could radically change deeply-rooted, centuries-old destructive patterns of recklessness, callousness and deceit within the Catholic hierarchy that have directly led to hundreds of thousands of trusting children and vulnerable adults being raped, sodomized and fondled by clerics. But he refuses.

We can never know what’s in another person’s heart. But the Pope’s sadness at this crisis can’t begin to match the sadness we feel at his refusal to stop it. Somewhere today children are being sexually assaulted by priests, nuns, bishops, brothers or seminarians. Nothing the Pope has said, today or ever, stops those crimes and helps those children.

We challenge the Pope today to discipline, demote or defrock even one bishop for ignoring or concealing horrific child sex crimes. Ignoring wrong-doing enables more wrong-doing. And while perhaps two dozen bishops have voluntarily stepped down, under intense pressure, for committing or concealing child sex crimes, not one has ever faced negative consequences from the Vatican for their crimes or misdeeds. That’s the real problem.

Traffic safety suffers when no one gets a ticket. Fire safety suffers when no one is cited for violating the fire code. And children’s safety in the church suffers when virtually no one is ever punished – from custodian to Cardinal – for violating common decency, secular laws or church policy on child sexual abuse.

We doubt that anything will deter child molesting clerics. Most of them, we believe, are ruled by deeply-rooted and overwhelming compulsive urges they can’t control. Their supervisors and colleagues, however, can be deterred from ignoring or concealing child sex crimes, both known and suspected. It just takes a Pope who is brave enough to fire or demote or defrock a few of them. It’s that simple.

But the Pope won’t act. Like a loving but indulgent and irresponsible parent who raises a future sociopath by never saying setting limits and saying “no,” the Pope can’t bring himself to discipline even one bishop for even the most egregious, hurtful cover ups. (Again, none have been fired, defrocked or even publicly admonished by the Vatican for covering up abuse.)

Instead, he travels from country to country, praising local bishops for what he must realize are terrible track records on clergy sex crimes and cover ups, thus encouraging more clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

Instead of cracking down, he makes excuses, enabling these same heinous wrongs to continue.

Specifically, we ask the pontiff today to rescind his promotion of Joliet Illinois Bishop Peter Sartain to head the Seattle Washington Archdiocese. Sartain knowingly ordained a sexually troubled priest last year who went on to molest at least one boy this year.

It doesn’t get much more clear and disturbing than Sartain’s recent misconduct:

-In the spring of 2009, seminarian Alejandro Flores was caught with pornorgraphy, prosecutors say. (According to one newspaper, “Though the website posted a disclaimer saying the people involved in the sex acts were not minors, a prosecutor said Catholic officials were concerned some of the images appeared to be those of young boys.”)

-Sartain kept this a secret for more than a year and never disclosed it.

-Weeks later, in the summer of 2009, Bishop Peter Sartain ordained Flores anyway.

-Last week, Flores pled guilty to molesting a boy as recently as January 2010.

-Last week, prosecutors disclosed Flores’ having the pornography.

-And yesterday, the Pope promotes Sartain, from Joliet’s bishop to Seattle’s archbishop.

All of this happened years after Sartain and his US colleagues pledged to be “open and transparent” about clergy sexual misconduct and “put children’s safety first.” All of this happened years after American bishops claimed they had “learned from the mistakes of the past.”

We know it’s an extraordinary request we’re making – to revoke the promotion of a bishop. But we also know that Sartain recklessly endangered kids by ordaining a sexually troubled priest and by concealing his past. The result was that a child was molested longer. If the Pope truly wants, as he claims, to “do everything possible” to stop predator priests, and be more “quick” and “vigilant,” he should start here, today, with Sartain.

(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, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312 399 4747 cell, [email protected], 07587206053), Therese Albrecht 07 570 893 544), Barbara Dorris (314 503 0003 cell, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Mark Serrano (703 727 4940, [email protected])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests