The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Clergy sex abuse victims urge action
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])
We are clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a self help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). Our mission is to help heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
We are here today to prod Gary’s Catholic bishop to honor the Pope’s promise of last summer. Pope Benedict pledged to “do everything possible” to prevent future clergy sex crimes and cover ups. He didn’t say “the bare minimum,” which is what bishops have done and are doing. He said “do everything possible.”
Toward that end, we have two specific requests today. Both involve serial predator priests who have spent time in this diocese.
Today, in a Chicago courtroom, a notorious serial convicted child molesting cleric will argue he should be set free. We want Gary’s bishop to help intervene to keep him jailed.
He is Daniel J. McCormack, who has family in the Crown Point Indiana area and worked temporarily at St. Mary’s Catholic church there as recently as 2006. In 2007, he was convicted of molesting five kids in Chicago. We fear he may have molested Indiana children too.
McCormack has completed his sentence, but prosecutors are trying to keep him confined as a “sexually violent predator” who is apt to re-offend. We worry that if McCormack gets out, he’ll move to northwestern Indiana.
We are also worried about another accused serial predator priest, Fr. Richard A. Emerson, who is believed to be the highest ranking Catholic official in Indiana to be accused of child sex crimes. Emerson is rumored to have moved from Atlanta to Las Vegas. A former Gary diocesan chancellor, he faces several civil child sex lawsuits.
Pages of once-secret church records about Emerson show that Gary’s bishop knew of but kept silent about allegations against Emerson for at least 15 years, leaving unsuspecting parishioners, neighbors and family members at risk of child molestation. (See BishopAccountability.org)
As recently as Aug. 2006, Gary’s bishop urged his staff to stay silent about the fact that the Vatican defrocked Emerson.
Emerson worked at several Gary diocesan parishes including East Chicago, Hammond, LaPorte, Michigan City and the former Hoosier Boys Town in Schererville. Emerson is now believed to be in his 60s.
As best we can tell, McCormack is only accused of molesting in Chicago, while Emerson faces allegations of abusing in both Indiana and Florida.
It’s crucial, we believe, for Gary Catholic officials to avoid the temptation to do nothing or split hairs (“Emerson hasn’t been convicted.” “McCormack never formally was assigned to this diocese.”) It’s crucial that they take tangible steps to better protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
Here, specifically, is our message to the Gary Catholic hierarchy: You can, of course, take the path of least resistance, so often followed by church officials, and do nothing. Or you can show compassion and leadership, and take action. Please honor Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep and work hard to find and help even one person who may be suffering in silence, shame and self blame because of the crimes of child molesting clerics. Please honor the promise Pope Benedict himself made this summer to “do everything possible” to help clergy sex victims. Please honor your moral duty to help those in pain. And please honor your civic duty to help get a child molester away from kids and behind bars.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)
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