The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Two years later, O’Malley still hides predators’ names; SNAP responds
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
How can Pope Benedict send Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley to help the scandal-ridden Irish church when O’Malley refuses to ‘come clean’ about dozens of still-undisclosed child molesting clerics in his own archdiocese?
The burden of warning families about child molesting clerics continues to fall on victims, advocates, and law enforcement. Even now, top Catholic officials keep the names, crimes and whereabouts of predatory priests, nuns, bishops and seminarians secret. There is no clearer sign that little has changed within the Catholic hierarchy than this sad fact.
It’s been eight years since America’s Catholic bishops promised to be “open and transparent” in child sex cases. It’s been eight years since the first US bishop posted a list of predator priests on his website. And it’s been two years since O’Malley, finally buckling to outside pressure, pledged to post his own list of child molesting clerics.
Still, it hasn’t happened.
Like Cardinal Mahony in Los Angeles, O’Malley works very hard on burnishing his image as a “reformer” and carefully orchestrating public relations events that give the impression of change.
But he refuses, like most of his peers, to take tangible steps to truly safeguard the vulnerable or heal the wounded.
Symbolic gestures are great if you’re a failing politician trying to “rally your base.” But O’Malley is a smart shepherd. His flock contains thousands of vulnerable kids. His gestures do nothing to protect them. That takes real courage and decisive action, like identifying known child predators.
Remember that as recently as 2008, O’Malley was found by Catholic officials to be violating the US bishops’ abuse policy by failing to provide abuse prevention training to Boston Catholic children. He broke this rule for five straight years.
It’s gobbeldy-gook for O’Malley to talk of “the complexities” of disclosing predators. He should post on his website right now the proven and admitted predators. He can add more names later as information gets nailed down. How hard is that? That’s what anyone who really cares about vulnerable kids, hurting victims and fearful parents would do.
We strongly suspect his concern is much less about “due process for those accused” and much more about discouraging victims from coming forward.
O’Malley wants to have his cake and eat it too – paying settlements to victims so he can seem “pastoral” while also keeping the predators’ names hidden, claiming “complexities” prevent him from “establishing guilt or innocence” of the accused pedophiles.
(If indeed there’s some doubt about whether allegations are true, the answer is simple. O’Malley should be “open and transparent” as he’s promised, and publicly announce the accusation, begging anyone with information that might prove or disprove the charge to come forward.)
Somewhere in Dorchester, a struggling and devout immigrant mom and her four young kids live in an apartment building. The kind-looking elderly man across the hall befriends them, claiming to be a retired priest. One of her kids gets hit by a car. Her neighbor offers to watch her other children while the mom takes her injured child to the emergency room. He molests the kids. Years later, she finds out about the abuse and learns that the ‘retired’ priest is actually a suspended, credibly accused child molesting priest.
Imagine the betrayal she’ll rightly feel.
(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])
Lawyer to list church’s alleged abusers
Frustrated that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has not published a list of priests accused of abusing minors, a Boston lawyer who has represented hundreds of victims plans today to release his own list of more than 100 alleged abusers.
Mitchell Garabedian said yesterday that he would hold a press conference this morning to announce the names of priests, members of religious orders, and former employees of the Catholic Church named in sexual abuse complaints for which he has obtained settlements or arbitration awards.
He said he would also post the 117 names, 99 of whom served in the Boston Archdiocese, on his firm’s website.
Garabedian, who said he has represented more than 750 victims of sexual abuse by clergy, said he is publishing the list because Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has not fulfilled a promise he made almost two years ago to release a comprehensive list of priests who sexually abused children in the Archdiocese of Boston.
The publication of such lists has been a top goal of victim advocacy groups, and a number of dioceses around the country have posted them.
Garabedian said his goal is “to provide the necessary transparency that the church does not provide, transparency that allows victims to heal and protects children.’’
BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sexual abuse by clergy around the country, lists on its website the names of 222 accused priests and members of religious orders, all of whom were at some point assigned to work in Boston.
Garabedian’s list includes 18 alleged abusers from Boston who are not on the list posted by BishopAccountability, a discrepancy that highlights the challenge facing outside groups trying to compile such lists.
The Archdiocese of Boston, asked about Garabedian’s plan, issued a statement outlining the steps it has taken to protect children from abuse and said it is working on developing a list of accused clergy.
“We remain committed to augmenting our present policy in the area of disclosing additional information about credibly accused clergy,’’ said Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. “At this time, our work on this important undertaking is ongoing. We continue to evaluate the complexities of this initiative, especially those associated with disclosing information relating to deceased priests or those accused of a crime whose guilt or innocence has not been established, and the serious due process concerns this presents for those accused.’’
In a March 2009 letter to the chairwoman of a committee advising the archdiocese on child protection policy, O’Malley suggested he was on the verge of releasing a list of clergy accused of abuse and the status of the cases against them.
But Garabedian said that even if an alleged perpetrator is dead and no longer a threat to children, the church has an obligation to provide victims with the psychological validation of seeing their abuser publicly named. He also said that by not releasing the names, the church retains an advantage over victims in settlement negotiations.
“If you bring a claim and you say, ‘X molested my client,’ they can say, ‘Well, we have never heard of X molesting a child before,’ ’’ Garabedian said. “I’ve decided to end the secrecy.’’
Terence McKiernan, who is the founder and codirector of BishopAccountability.org, plans to appear at the press conference to discuss the 18 previously undisclosed names.
Garabedian said at least one of the 18 is working in a Catholic library in Texas, but that he did not know whether other priests in that group are employed by the church or whether they are dead or alive.
McKiernan’s organization has long criticized O’Malley for not releasing a list of alleged abusers, and he praised Garabedian for his decision.
“Behind each of these names is the story, and that story is in the possession of the archdiocese,’’ he said. “It behooves them, it seems to me, to step forward at least and tell us what those stories are.’’
Lisa Wangsness can be reached at [email protected]
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests