Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, December 20, 2010

A new culprit-Pope blames 70s for widespread abuse; SNAP responds

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

While some church officials have blamed the 1960s for the church’s sex abuse and cover up catastrophe, the Pope is now blaming the 1970s.

Catholics should be embarrassed to see their Pope talk again and again about abuse while doing little or nothing to stop it and to mischaracterize this heinous crisis.

It is fundamentally disturbing to watch a brilliant man so conveniently misdiagnose a horrific scandal. It’s unseemly to see a powerful religious figure childishly blaming nameless forces and time periods for a church-created crisis.

The Pope insists on talking about a vague “broader context” he can’t control, while ignoring the clear “broader context” he can influence – the long-standing and unhealthy culture of a rigid, secretive, all-male church hierarchy fixated on self-preservation at all costs. This is the “context” that matters.

This ‘context,’ in which hundreds of thousands of child sex crimes are committed, ignored and concealed in the church, involves ordained men who often
-- think they’re better than everyone else,
-- are blindly loyal to their superiors,
-- are more concerned with career advancement than living the Gospel,
-- realize that those who protect predators are virtually never disciplined, and
-- understand that protecting the hierarchy’s reputation, secrets and assets are a high priority.

It also often involves
-- archaic, predator-friendly laws,
-- timid, under-funded law enforcement, and
-- secular officials who give church figures excessive deference.

And the church’s on-going abuse and cover up crisis involves a “context” in which lay people are often
-- too trusting of the church hierarchy, and
-- too reluctant to call police when they see, suspect and suffer clergy sex crimes.

Finally, the Pope’s priorities are backwards. “repair” is less critical than “prevention.” Wounded adults can heal themselves. Vulnerable kids, however, cannot protect themselves.

The cooperation of the church hierarchy is helpful to suffering victims, but it’s crucial to at-risk kids. Whenever the Pope tires of talking about abuse and starts acting on abuse, he should focus on taking immediate, practical steps to oust those who commit, ignore and conceal clergy sex crimes first.

(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 10,000 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, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])

Pope calls on Catholic church to 'repair injustice' of sexual abuse

Pontiff also blames child abuse scandal on child pornography, sexual tourism and moral relativism of 1970s

Pope Benedict XVI today called on the Roman Catholic church to reflect on how sexual abuse exploded within its ranks in a Christmas speech.

But the pontiff also blamed the scandal on child pornography, sexual tourism and the moral relativism of the 1970s.

In his eagerly awaited speech to bishops and cardinals, Benedict rounded up the highlights of his year, briefly mentioning his visits to Malta, Spain and Portugal before dwelling at length on his "unforgettable" visit to England and Scotland.

He started his roundup, in the Sala Regia of the Vatican's apostolic palace, by tackling the "unimaginable" wave of revelations of sexually abusive priests in Europe and the US, who "profoundly wound people in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime".

"We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred," he said. "We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life."

Benedict has been challenged on his record of tackling abuse while he was the Archbishop of Munich and the head of the Vatican office dealing with abuse cases.

The Pope likened today's church to the beautiful woman covered in dust and wearing a torn dress who was seen in a vision by the 12th century German saint Hildegard.

But in his festive speech – which he traditionally uses to impart key messages to senior Vatican figures – he insisted the abuse scandal should be placed in a wider social context.

"We cannot remain silent about the context of these times in which these events have come to light," he said, citing child pornography, "that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society."

Sexual tourism in the third world was "threatening an entire generation", he added.

Returning to a theme he had discussed in the past, Benedict said the modern world's moral relativism was at fault.

"In the 1970s, paedophilia was seen as a natural thing for men and children," he said, arguing that the Catholic church had the task of taking on and defeating relativism.

Roberto Mirabile, the head of Italian anti-paedophilia campaign group La Caramella Buona, said: "When Benedict puts priestly abuse in this context, it sounds like he is trying to justify it.

"I appreciate the pope's willingness to crack down, but I still don't see this great commitment within the Vatican to shed light on a problem which is ongoing."

Mirabile said he was currently awaiting responses from the Vatican overly newly-emerging cases of abuse in Italy.

Benedict said the church's insistence on irrefutable religious truths over relativism had driven the conversion to Catholicism of the 19th century theologian John Henry Newman, who was beatified by the pontiff during his visit to England in September.

Skirting over his other foreign trips this year, the Pope singled out his speech at Westminster Hall, in London, given in front of four former prime ministers, parliamentarians and religious leaders, and claimed that the church had a role in reinforcing the moral values – currently "at risk" – that underpin modern democracy.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests