Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More proof shows Vatican urges stonewalling police; SNAP responds

Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949 322 7434, [email protected])

In the mid 1990s, Irish bishops wanted to start telling law enforcement about horrific child sex crimes. Top Vatican bureaucrats told them no. That’s what this newly-released letter shows. We can’t help but wonder how many other similar documents – in which the Vatican thwarts local efforts to combat abuse – remain hidden in church records across the world.

And according to one Irish newspaper, “A new documentary reveals the contents of the letter and claims that, on two occasions, the Vatican intervened and stopped attempts made by Irish bishops to defrock pedophile priests.”

Last year, disclosures showed that Vatican officials refused to defrock proven predators. But this is worse. These disclosures show Vatican officials refusing to honor the most basic duty of citizenship – notifying police about crimes.

There’s no way to “spin” this. In black and white, in a letter to a group of bishops, a high-ranking Catholic official in Rome essentially says “protecting our priests is more important than protecting your kids.” A key Roman Catholic figure basically tells bishops that church policy trumps criminal laws and that church officials, not secular officials, get to quietly handle child molesters “in house.”

Defrocking child predators happens only after severe harm is done. Calling police about suspected child predators can help prevent severe harm. But Vatican officials have told church staff to avoid either step.

This disclosure makes Catholic officials in both Rome and Ireland look bad. It’s a widely-held moral precept that one cannot excuse immoral actions because of edicts from one’s boss. That’s basically what Irish church officials have done.

Why have Irish bishops obeyed such clearly hurtful and reckless directives from the Vatican? Why have they stayed silent for 15 years while the Vatican refuses to approve new child sex abuse policies?

But obviously, Vatican officials look much worse. Who but the most callous, corrupt and self-serving individual tells others to keep quiet about possible or proven child predators?

A clear and disturbing pattern has emerged. The child sex abuse and cover up scandal begins to emerge in a nation. Lay people demand action by their bishops but get little response. So they urge the Vatican to act. The Vatican ‘passes the buck’ back to local church officials, claiming they’ll handle it. But when local church officials make even paltry attempts at reform, the Vatican blocks them. And kids continue to get hurt, predators continue to walk free, law enforcement continues to be ignored, and bishops continue to pretend to be powerless.

(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, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])


Posted on Tuesday, 01.18.11

Vatican warned Irish bishops not to report abuse

By SHAWN POGATCHNIK - Associated Press

DUBLIN -- A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warns Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police because that would violate the church's canon laws.

The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided Tuesday to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican's rejection at that time of an Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests.

In the letter, the Vatican's diplomat in Ireland at the time, Archbishop Luciano Storero, told the bishops that a senior church panel in Rome, the Congregation for the Clergy, had decided that the Irish church's year-old policy of "mandatory" reporting of abuse claims conflicted with canon law.

Storero emphasized in the letter that the Irish church's policy was not recognized by the Vatican and was "merely a study document." He said canon law - which required abuse allegations to be handled within the church - "must be meticulously followed."

Without elaborating Storero, who died in 2000, wrote that mandatory reporting of child-abuse claims to police "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature."

The letter, originally obtained by RTE religious affairs program "Would You Believe?", said the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome would establish worldwide child-protection policies "at the appropriate time."

The Vatican has not formally accepted any of the Irish church's three major documents on child protection since 1996. All emphasize mandatory reporting of suspected offenses.

The content of Storero's letter was reported second-hand in 2009 as part of a mammoth investigation into the 1975-2004 cover-up of hundreds of child-abuse cases in the Dublin Archdiocese. The letter itself, marked "strictly confidential," has never been published before.

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