The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
New Vatican sex abuse guidelines expected, SNAP responds
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949 322 7434, [email protected])
More Vatican guidelines on abuse won’t be very effective. Words on paper don’t protect kids. Decisive action protects kids. But decisive action is precisely what the Vatican refuses to take – either against most predator priests or all complicit bishops.
As long as top church officials, who ignore, conceal and mishandle child sex cases are praised and promoted, the scandal will continue unabated.
Just last week in Canada, we exposed a priest who was criminally convicted of molesting girls still on the job.
Just today, in Louisiana, the papal preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, spoke to a Catholic group. A year ago, he made incredibly hurtful public comments that upset Jewish leaders and clergy sex abuse victims (“likening “accusations against the pope and the Catholic church in the sex abuse scandal to ‘collective violence’ suffered by the Jews.”)
In church sex abuse cases, many wrong-doers get rewarded, while many whistleblowers get ostracized. Enforcing common decency, not promulgating new “guidelines,” could change this but isn’t happening.
Two key changes are needed. In the secular realm, archaic, predator-friendly laws must be reformed by lawmakers. In the church realm, those who ignore or conceal heinous child sex crimes must be harshly punished by top church officials. Until this happens, more written internal church “guidelines” are largely meaningless.
More new church recommendations won’t force bishops to tell the truth. Severe sanctions, however, will. But so far, both religious and secular authorities are largely unable or unwilling to do that.
Over the past decade, the Vatican has really taken only two global actions relating to the church’s child sex abuse and cover up crisis. Under Pope John Paul II, all such cases were to be reported to one Vatican agency. (Church officials claim this is a “reform,” but we’re not convinced.) And under Pope Benedict, a non-binding sentence was added to church policy telling bishops they should obey the sex abuse reporting laws of their own countries. That’s it.
In terms of real steps – not symbolic ones – this is virtually all the Vatican has done in response to a horrific crisis. Almost everything else has been a public relations gesture.
So, indeed, the Vatican must do more. So too must legislators. And every single person who sees, suspects or suffers clergy sex crimes and cover ups must call police, expose wrong doing, protect kids and start healing.
(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])
Vatican to issue guidelines on combating child abuse
Agence France-Presse May 10, 2011 2:02 PM
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican will shortly circulate a letter to bishops worldwide with guidance on combating child sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, a Vatican source said Tuesday.
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body in charge of Church dogma, announced in November that such a document was being prepared.
The cardinal said the circular would include "directives" relating to the "reception of victims", working with civil authorities, protecting children and the training of future priests.
The Vatican is under pressure to produce the guidelines at the request of a U.S. civil court which is examining the Holy See's role as "employer" in the case of a priest accused of child sex abuse.
The Holy See has meanwhile announced sanctions against Canadian Raymond Lahey, an ex-bishop who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges.
It has been criticized however for not taking action against former Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe, who admitted ill-treating his nephews.
The publication in Ireland in 2009 of a shocking report documenting hundreds of cases of child abuse by priests and systematic cover-up efforts by senior clergy plunged the Church into its worst crisis in many years.
There have since been hundreds more revelations across the United States and Europe.
In July last year, at the height of the child abuse scandal, the Church announced that it was working on recommendations "designed to make more rigorous, coherent and effective the directives already in place."
Pope Benedict XVI has condemned sex abuse crimes with growing intensity, has met with victims and has tightened Church rules for dealing with abusers.
But campaigners such as the U.S.-based abuse victims group, Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), say the Church has not done nearly enough.
Victims' organisations have accused Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor John Paul II of failing to address the issue of high-ranking clergy protecting predator priests.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests