Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, December 20, 2010

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

Statement by Lucy Duckworth, SNAP England, [email protected] +44 780 505 7270

Others can “reflect” on the causes of the church’s widespread clergy sex abuse and cover up scandal. But the Pope must act.

Every day that passes without decisive papal action, children somewhere are being molested by priests. Every papal statement that is issued without corresponding action is an opportunity squandered.

There’s a reason clergy sex crimes are being uncovered “to a degree” Benedict says “we could not have imagined.” It’s a simple reason. It’s because he won’t insist that his bishops investigate the cover ups within their dioceses. And it’s because too few governments have the courage to do what the Irish government did: launch its own investigation.

It was encouraging last week to learn that Northern Ireland will soon start such a probe. We call on every European nation to undertake a similar project, so that child molesting clerics and their corrupt colleagues and supervisors will be publicly exposed and children will be safer.

(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