Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bay Area Vatican lawyer says ‘everyone’s wrong but me,’ SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, [email protected])

Once again, we mere mortals are told that we’re too dumb to understand the subtle and sophisticated Vatican document. This time, it’s the Vatican’s Berkeley-based lawyer Jeffrey Lean who insults Catholics and citizens with this ridiculous claim.

Lena says that a newly-released damning Vatican letter is being “deeply misunderstood” and means “precisely the opposite of what has been reported.” He’s claiming that NPR, the New York Times, the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, and dozens of other media outlets across the world are completely wrong and he’s right.

Let’s remember that high ranking Catholic officials are almost universally smart, well-educated men. The notion that they can’t make their points understandable is silly on its face.

The real issue here is that the Vatican refuses, even now, to promulgate a clear world-wide policy, with real teeth, mandating that church employees call police when they see or suspect clergy child sex crimes.

Is there one nation on the planet, besides the US, in which Catholic bishops have clearly and formally promised “We’ll report all known and suspected child sex crimes to law enforcement?” More important, how many times have church employees – from Cardinal to custodian – ever been disciplined, even slightly, for ignoring or concealing child sex crimes? (We can only think of two such instances, involving only four employees, and their penalties were laughably light.)

Until there are real consequences for church employees who ignore and conceal child sex crimes, child sex crimes will continue to be ignored and concealed.

Let’s remember that it was only last year, after a series of stunning revelations of Vatican complicity in child sex abuse and cover up cases, that the Vatican issued a non-binding, one sentence “clarification” saying that bishops should report clergy child sex crimes to secular authorities in those jurisdictions that require such reporting.

That’s hardly reform – suggesting that bishops obey civil and criminal laws.

Wouldn’t it be reassuring to hear Pope Benedict say, simply and clearly, “It’s now official and binding – every church member and employee must report every known and suspected child sex crimes to law enforcement. And every time a cleric breaks this rule, he’ll be severely disciplined. Period.” But he hasn’t.

And wouldn’t it be reassuring to hear top Vatican staff say “We were dead wrong to even hint that bishops not call police about known and suspected child molesters. We are deeply sorry.” But they aren’t.

And wouldn’t it be reassuring to hear the Pope’s lawyer, Lena, admit that the stunning Vatican letter to Irish bishops means what almost every other person says it means?

So it’s pretty hard to believe there’s been any real change in the church hierarchy on child sex crimes and cover ups.

(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])

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests