The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, April 11, 2011
Bishops are breaking own promises, new study shows; SNAP responds
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])
Bishops are getting worse, not better, with children’s safety, according to their own-hand-picked abuse panel. After a decade or more of promises, bishops are still refusing to abide by their own vague, weak policies adopted largely as public relations moves.
It’s alarming that dozens of bishops are refusing to honor the most basic and important pledge they’ve made – to keep predator priests out of ministry. When bishops let pedophile priests work and appear in public as priests, Catholics and citizens assume those priests are “ok.” And those predators use their status to gain access to and molest more kids. This is just common sense.
Bishops have had nearly a decade to reform. For the most part, they haven’t. So their refusal to take simple, common sense safety measures can’t really be called “lapses.” Nor are bishops “drifting away” from their promises about children’s safety. They are deliberately violating their promises, quietly but consistently, and will keep doing so as more time passes and more Catholics leave and more public attention wanes and more victims, witnesses, whistleblowers and advocates give up.
The real solution to this on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis is two-fold. First, every single person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups must continue to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing. Second, archaic, predator friendly laws must be reformed so that child predators and those who shield them can be exposed in court and others who are tempted to act recklessly, callously and deceitfully are deterred.
(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])
Report sees lapses in bishops' child safety policy
Associated Press, 04.11.11, 09:06 AM EDT
WASHINGTON -- Auditors hired by the U.S. bishops to check child safety in America's Roman Catholic dioceses each year warned in a new report Monday of a drift away from parts of the church's nine-year-old abuse prevention plan.
The agency the bishops hired to conduct the review said 55 of the 188 participating dioceses needed to make improvements or risk being out of compliance with the national policy, more than double the number of dioceses who were found lacking in 2009.
"The church cannot afford to relax its standards," the authors of the study warned.
Among the most common problems the auditors identified:
_Allowing clergy who had been barred from ministry to lead public prayers
_Downsizing local child safety offices, partly due to the recession, leaving key tasks undone
_Failing to meet with leaders of all religious orders that have priests working in a diocese
_Not checking whether safeguards were in place on the parish level, despite a directive since 2006 to do so
_Failing to collect written notice from parents who decide to keep their children from abuse prevention training
The bishops' policy, called the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," was adopted in 2002 as the scandal over predatory priests in the Archdiocese of Boston spread through the American church. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plans to review the charter at a national meeting in June.
Bishops have spent tens of millions of dollars on background checks for clergy and volunteers, support for victims, safe environment training for adults and children, studies on the roots of clergy abuse and the annual compliance audits.
However, the value of the audits have come under new scrutiny since February, when a Philadelphia grand jury alleged that the local archdiocese kept about three dozen credibly accused clergy in public ministry - a violation of the national policy.
Since the audits began in 2003, the Philadelphia archdiocese has passed every review, including this latest one. Teresa Kettelkamp, the bishops' national child protection officer, said church leaders are looking into how that happened.
"We will figure this out and fix whatever needs to be fixed," Kettelkamp said.
The auditors rely on information provided by church officials and conduct onsite visits of each diocese just once every three years. The process is overseen by the National Review Board, a lay advisory panel the bishops formed that has no enforcement authority. The dioceses of Baker, Ore., and Lincoln, Neb., and five geographic districts for Eastern-rite Catholics did not participate in the 2010 audit.
A companion study to the audit found the abuse crisis continues to batter the church.
A 2010 survey of U.S. dioceses by the Council for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found the number of new abuse claims rose compared to 2009. The overwhelming majority of the allegations were made by adults who said they had been molested decades ago as children.
Dioceses received 428 credible allegations against 345 clergy. According to the survey, more than half of the accused clergy had faced previous claims and about two-thirds had already been removed from the priesthood or had died. Seven of the claims involved the abuse of minors in 2010.
Religious orders separately reported receiving 77 allegations against 60 offenders last year.
Dioceses and their insurers paid nearly $124 million in settlements, attorneys' fees and other abuse-related costs in 2010, up from about $104 million in 2009. All told, the scandal's price tag for settlements and other costs is near $3 billion, according to surveys commissioned by the bishops and news reports.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests