Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Monday, April 18, 2011

Pope gives Rigali new honor; SNAP responds

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, [email protected])

Today, the Pope inexplicably picked Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali to represent him at a special church celebration in the Czech Republic in June.

Why on earth would the Pope act so irresponsibly and heartlessly? What’s next? Another honor for Cardinal Law? What part of “rubbing salt in the wounds” do Vatican officials not understand?

A physician’s duty is to “first, do no harm.” Evidently, the Pope doesn’t see that as his first duty.

There are two possible explanations. Vatican officials are either incredibly stupid - and no one believes that – or incredibly callous.

There are, of course, thousands of bishops and tens of thousands of priests who the Pope could have tapped for this honor. Yet he picks perhaps the most recent and most thoroughly discredited one possible – Cardinal Rigali.

We often deplore the vast gap between what Catholic officials say and do regarding child sex crimes and cover ups. Here, the gap is enormous, disturbing and very hurtful to thousands who are already hurting.

There’s a second reason the Pope’s action is so alarming. Besides sending a depressing and insensitive message to victims and Catholics, it sends an alarming message to church employees: “no matter how much or how long you ignore or conceal child sex crimes, don’t sweat it. Almost nothing you can do that endangers kids will hurt your clerical career.”

Wonder why bishops keep hiding crimes and protecting criminals? Here’s why: they essentially get rewarded by Rome for doing so.

Knee jerk Vatican defenders will no doubt claim this is no big deal, it’s a one-time occasion, and it’s just a symbolic gesture. None of that matters. What matters is that Pope Benedict had thousands of options. He picked one that was destined to (least) ameliorate the suffering of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Pennsylvania child sex abuse victims and hundreds of thousands of suffering Pennsylvania Catholics.

(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

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])


Monday, April 18, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 18 APR 2011 (VIS) - Today, the Holy Father named:

- Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA) as his special envoy to the bicentennial celebration of the birth of St. John Nepomuceno Neumann that will take place in Prachatitz, Czech Republic on 18 June 2011.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests