The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Sex abuse victims blast Trenton bishop
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
In an arrogant and self-serving guest editorial in today’s Trenton Times, Trenton’s Catholic bishop claims he and his diocese has “done everything in its power” to protect kids and help victims. This attitude by church officials – “we’re virtually perfect” – is a key reason why tens of thousands of boys and girls have been sexually violated by thousands of priests, nuns, seminarians, bishops and other Catholic employees.
Virtually every institution can do more to safeguard the vulnerable from shrewd child predators.
If O’Connell really wants to stop abuse, why won’t he post predators priests’ names online like 24 of his colleagues across the US have done?
According to the independent researchers at BishopAccountability.org, 17Trenton priests publicly accused child pedophiles. (We strongly suspect the real figure is much higher.) So it’s disingenuous for Trenton’s bishop to claim he cares about kids while helping to keep the identities and whereabouts of these predators hidden.
Words don’t protect kids, especially not self-congratulatory words. Action protects like, especially action like identifying proven, admitted and credibly accused child molester.
(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])
Committed to healing the hurt, protecting the innocents
Wednesday, March 09, 2011 SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
David M. O'Connell
Any priest who is ordained as bishop of a diocese today understands that dealing with the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and other diocesan personnel, as well as protecting the children who are placed in the church's care, are among the most important responsibilities one is given. Since assuming the position of bishop of Trenton on Dec. 1, 2010, I, too, have committed myself to this very serious responsibility and have pledged to do all I can to ensure that we maintain a safe environment for everyone who walks through the doors of our churches, schools and diocesan institutions, especially minors, and for everyone who interacts with our clergy or lay personnel.
We have all heard or read media reports about troubling situations in dioceses around us. In the short few months since assuming the role of bishop of Trenton, I have done my best to learn what has transpired in the Diocese of Trenton since the establishment of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by the U.S. bishops. As a result of this inquiry, I am convinced that our diocese has done everything in its power to fulfill the 2002 charter, implementing every possible safety measure, removing abuser priests when identified and bringing them to justice, and reaching out in compassion and support to anyone who has been victimized by a member of the clergy.
I do not have the same level of certainty, however, in regard to the decades that came before the charter -- a time when awareness about the problem was much less developed, when standards and expectations for response were less clear, and when policies were more open to interpretation and use of someone's best judgment. I say this not as a defense or an excuse, but simply as a historical fact. The church has widely acknowledged that mistakes were made and that things needed to change. That is the resolve that emerged out of the crisis of 2002. In every corner of the country, diocesan leaders have issued formal apologies for the failure of the church to act steadfastly in defense of children and young people, and I add my deepest, heartfelt apology to theirs.
No matter how much any of us would like to, we cannot change this painful history. It stands as a sobering reminder of what can happen when we fail to fulfill our role as protector of the innocents who are placed in our care.
We are committed to helping anyone who was hurt as a minor by sexual abuse to seek help and to begin the healing process. But if we are ever to move beyond those darker days and truly begin to heal, we need to focus our energies on how we conduct ourselves now, looking always to implement best practices and to educate adults and children about how to maintain safe environments.
Again, as bishop of our diocese, I pledge to you my most earnest efforts to ensure the safety of our children and youth. And I appeal to anyone who was sexually abused as a child by a member of the clergy or other church representative to come forward and contact us. We have set up a hotline for that purpose: 1-888-296-2965.
As bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, my prayers continue for all the victims of sexual abuse by clergy or other church personnel within our diocese and throughout the church and all those affected by its occurrence. May the Lord bring healing and peace.
The Most Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., is bishop of the Diocese of Trenton.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests