The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, February 2, 2011
DE Catholic bankruptcy ends: 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])
This settlement has happened for one reason: because of the courage and persistence of the wounded but compassionate men and women who were once innocent and trusting children but were betrayed twice - once by Catholic clergy and again by the Catholic hierarchy.
These brave, determined victims are transforming their horrific pain into positive change. They are turning their private source of shame into a public force for prevention, and Delaware children will be safer because of them.
Credit should be given, not to church officials, but to these once fragile but now incredibly resilient men and women who had the strength to speak up, the wisdom to take legal action, and the patience to endure a long legal process.
Citizens of Delaware should be grateful to them. If not for their courage, perhaps dozens of dangerous child molesters would still be unknown to the public and some perhaps even in active ministry today. Countless children are safer now, thanks to the selfless actions of these survivors and their loved ones.
Our understanding is that victims fought long and hard for very tangible, proven abuse prevention steps in this settlement. We applaud them for that. It is clear that Catholic officials will not or cannot reform themselves, and that even now, bishops often act recklessly, deceitfully and secretively in abuse cases. Forcing them to take specific moves to stop future clergy sex crimes and cover-ups is an enormous achievement.
The justice and reforms achieved by this settlement are also due to the wisdom of lawmakers who passed the Delaware Child Victims' Act, which gave crime victims the chance to expose wrongdoing through the civil justice system. This opportunity led and will lead to the disclosure of long-buried church cover ups and enable parents, parishioners and the public to learn about child predators whose identities had long been kept secret by callous church officials.
It is important that we all recognized that this agreement is no sign that Delaware Catholic officials have "reformed." Only the most foolish and naive could even entertain this notion. It's a sign of what we have maintained all along: that Delaware’s church hierarchy is scared of being deposed under oath, taking the witness stand, and having to finally disclose how much they knew about yet how little they did about terribly dangerous serial sex offenders.
It is also not the end for these hurting victims, even if it means long-overdue compensation for them. Nothing can give them back their childhoods and their trust and their self-esteem and the years of health and productivity that have been stolen from them, first by shrewd child molesters, then by complicit church officials. Weeks or months from now, if an agreement is reached, please do not speak to these victims about closure or "moving on" or "putting all this behind you. . ." That, sadly, will never happen. These brave men and women have made progress in their healing, and will no doubt make more progress. But victims of overwhelming childhood trauma never have the luxury of "putting it all behind them." So let's be careful about in advertently inflating hopes that may only be dashed later.
The settlement will finally enable still-suffering victims to get the in-patient drug rehab or alcohol treatment or intense therapy some have desperately needed for years. But it will not suddenly, magically mean the end of addictions, nightmares, sleeplessness, isolation and depression that so many of them are still struggling with, even decades after they were first sodomized and raped. Let's not kid ourselves. Legal progress doesn't guarantee personal healing.
(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