The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, February 24, 2011
SNAP response to Archdiocese apology
Statement by David Clohessy Executive Director 314566 9790 [email protected]
Apologies are appropriate after a crisis. The Philadelphia clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis is far from over. A Catholic district attorney and an impartial grand jury found that there are roughly 34 credibly accused child molesting clerics around kids in Philadelphia right now. "Job one" must be ousting and "outing" those predators, so that children are safer.
During a crisis, the top priority is the protection of the vulnerable, not the restoration of "trust."
The Philadelphia church hierarchy is half right: "Youth sports organizations, public schools, community groups and other faith communities all report incidents of abuse." Catholic officials conveniently neglect to mention, however, that in none of these other organization are widespread, callous cover ups of child sex crimes so clearly documented. Catholic staff often try to get us to focus on the “bad apple” predators and ignore the complicit bishops who often enable and conceal the predators’ crimes.
Archdiocesan officials whine that “Few have been forced to look as extensively at the horror of child sexual abuse perpetrated within their organizations . . .” This is a sad effort by corrupt officials to try and posture as "victims."
There should, of course, be more examination of abuse and cover up in every institution. But there’s a reason that “few have been forced to look as extensively at the horror of child sexual abuse,” as the church. It’s because few institutions, if any, have so severely hurt so many for so long through so many devastating crimes and duplicitous cover ups.
Finally, apologies seem insincere when coupled with gripes that "others are bad too." It's just wrong and immature for Philadelphia Catholic officials to claim that child sexual abuse of minors "is being addressed in only one sector of society, the Catholic Church." It insults the fine work that many institutions are doing and have done to better safeguard kids. More important, it's another clumsy, insensitive and a bald-faced public relations move to deflect attention and exaggerate the few belated, begrudging and often self-serving steps taken in recent years by a justifiably-criticized church hierarchy.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has 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])
We are sorry
We are sorry.
We, the Church, are the lay men, women and children; the religious who pray for us and work with us; the deacons, priests and bishops who lead us and bring us the divine graces of the Catholic sacramental system.
We, the Church, are sorry for the sexual abuse suffered by our brothers and sisters when they were young people at the hands of the Church’s clergymen and teachers. The Church is sorry for the sins and crimes of some members against other members. The Church begs forgiveness of our brothers and sisters, and of almighty God.
“We are sorry” are three words nearly as powerful as “I forgive you” or “I love you.” In each case, though, words are not enough. They must be accompanied by action.
It took the nationwide clergy sexual abuse scandal of 2002 and Philadelphia grand jury investigations in 2005 and just this month to prompt action in the Archdiocese and in every diocese in the United States. Those actions helped to train tens of thousands of parents and adults locally who work with children to spot signs of potential abuse, and prevent it from happening. Other actions set up ways to care for and compensate adult victims of abuse, and to remove from ministry and/or employment credibly accused Church personnel.
Even with those actions and new ones enacted by the Archdiocese last week, the problem of sexual abuse of minors is being addressed, albeit imperfectly, in only one sector of society, the Catholic Church. Youth sports organizations, public schools, community groups and other faith communities all report incidents of abuse. Few have been forced to look as extensively at the horror of child sexual abuse perpetrated within their organizations or to enact broad policies to prevent it.
The Catholic Church’s members suffer from the sins and crimes of the past and mistakes made in addressing them. But this suffering has meaning because it sheds light on the issue for all society to see. Every American must recognize that one in six boys and one in four girls are victims of sexual abuse before age 18. Child sexual abuse must be brought out from behind whispers in the community and dealt with as strongly or better than the processes now underway in the Church.
We, the Church, may find it hard to trust that the latest policies and actions will be effective. Trust begins to be rebuilt as members reflect upon those actions. And trust begins by reflecting on three words.
We are sorry.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests