The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, February 11, 2011
Statement regarding Philadelphia Grand Jury Report
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
It’s hard to find the words to describe the evil being perpetuated, even now, by Philadelphia archdiocesan staff. But first, we want to acknowledge three deeply wounded men.
First, we want to thank and praise the brave man described on Page 10 in the grand jury report who found the strength to tell church staff about the abuse he suffered as a child. For the most trivial of reasons, church figures deemed him “not credible.” He then took his own life. His blood is on their hands. We pause here for a moment of silence in honor of our fallen brother.
Second, we want to thank and praise the two courageous men – Billy and Mark – for helping to protect kids, expose wrongdoing, and help others by cooperating with the grand jury. The pain they suffered as kids and still suffer as adults, is palpable. The betrayal they experienced as kids and are experiencing as adults, is horrific. Pennsylvania citizens and Catholics owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Thank you Mark. Thank you Billy. You have done what Catholic officials still refuse to do.
Because you are acting with compassion and integrity, you will heal better. And because you are doing your civic and Christian duty, others will be spared. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you and praise you.
We are grateful to District Attorney Williams for his brave work to protect kids and expose corruption. He has talked, however, about this being the work of “bad men.” He’s only half right.
Fundamentally, this is not really or largely about the men – those who committed the horrific crimes - Engelhardt, Brennan, or Avery - or those who concealed the crimes - Bevalaqua, Rigali or Lynn.
It’s is about an ancient, secretive, self serving still-intact church hierarchy, structure and culture, in Philadelphia and across the globe. It’s about a deeply-rooted, still-flourishing, stunningly selfish group of men who head a dangerous monarchy masquerading as a charity.
There’s much to address here. But we want to focus on two alarming parts of the grand jury report – the credibly accused priests still around kids now and the information that Rigali is still refusing to turn over.
First, the credibly accused predators. Are all of the 37 credibly accused priests still on the job guilty? No one knows. Is a false allegation possible? Certainly. Are false allegations against priests frequent. No. (In fact, the church’s leading defense lawyer admitted to the New York Times on Aug. 31, 2002 that false allegations are rare. Of the more than 500 accused priests he represented, he said fewer than 10 were wrongfully accused.)
There are obviously two standards here. One is the standard of a biased church official with a self-serving agenda and a terrible track record. The other is the standard of independent professional with a public safety agenda. If there’s any doubt, the DA’s standard should prevail. And if there’s any doubt, we as a society must always err on the side of protecting the physical and emotional safety of many innocent kids over the reputations of a few accused adults.
Second, the still-hidden records. Williams should fight harder to get them. Rigali should stop fighting and produce them. The more citizens know about clerics who committed, ignored and concealed child sex crimes, the safer children will be. And the more top church staff cooperate with the independent professionals in law enforcement, the safer the church will be.
Ask yourself this question. Is Rigali withholding information that makes him look better or shows him looking worse? History and common sense suggest there’s much more incriminating information that should be given to the DA and the public.
So again, we also call on Cardinal Rigali to immediately and fully comply with the grand jury subpoenas about predatory priests still on the job today.
We call on Cardinal Rigali to immediately suspend the accused clergy, erring on the side of protecting innocent kids and vulnerable adults, not known predators and alleged predators.
And we call on District Attorney Williams to aggressively use all of his powers to enforce those subpoenas.
Finally, we beg anyone who sees, suspects or suffers clergy sex crimes and cover ups to call police, protect kids, start recovering and get help from independent, trustworthy sources.
(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 23 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