SNAP urges Catholic Church to be more transparent about abusive nuns, lay employees, and volunteers
Today a judge ordered the Archdiocese of New York and three of its Catholic schools to turn over documents related to a former teacher who has been accused of child sexual abuse. We are pleased with this development and hope that the transparency ordered will be voluntarily applied across the board in the Archdiocese, because we know that beneath all of the visible allegations against priests and religious brothers the rest of the iceberg lurks: accusations of abuse by nuns, lay employees and volunteers in Catholic institutions.
A preliminary assessment of the Catholic cases resulting from the Child Victims Act Indicates that about 76% involve clergy of all ranks and religious brothers, 4% nuns, and the remainder laypeople, including teachers. It is notable that nationwide, prelates seem to us to make an extra effort to avoid talking about abusive nuns, teachers, other lay employees, and volunteers. Yet everywhere SNAP is, we field reports about perpetrators in those categories. Unfortunately, most of what we learn comes from the media, not the best source of information, the Church. But even when a perpetrator is identified in the press, the abuser is almost never named by the bishop on his diocesan list.
We believe that the United States Bishops Conference should mandate that all of those accused of abuse in Catholic institutions - whether clergy or lay - should be named on the diocesan lists. That would likely mean a ballooning of reports - from 7,000 priests to perhaps double that in nuns and lay people. But the transparency would mean that the victims of nuns, teachers and others would finally get some validation which would help in the healing process..
More importantly, this heightened transparency also would mean that these perpetrators would be publicly outed, and if living, would perhaps prevent potential predators from being hired by non-Catholic employers.
CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer (415-341-6417, [email protected]), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager (267-261-0578, [email protected]) , Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)