SNAP Writes to Every Diocese in the US - Policies to Protect Adults Should be Adopted by All
Two survivors of clergy abuse have created stringent new policies that will ensure both children and adults are better protected from cases of clergy abuse. We applaud these survivors for their efforts to close loopholes in current policies within the Catholic Church and urge every single bishop, archbishop, and cardinal in the United States to adopt these policies immediately.
The work done by the St. Mary MacKillop Coalition for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults has largely been aimed at closing loopholes within internal Catholic policies that minimize abuse claims from vulnerable adults. For example, the current Church policy allows documents regarding the abuse of adults to be destroyed whereas documents related to the abuse of children must be maintained. Additionally, these policies contain new protections such as ensuring that victims’ statements must be verified with them in writing and giving survivors access to records regarding their case so that they can verify that what they reported is what was recorded.
The need for policy protections for adults has become much more obvious following the release of the bombshell McCarrick Report. That report detailed how disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick preyed on seminarians and young priests through his long career. So far, Bishop Earl Boyea from the Diocese of Lansing, MI, has agreed to promulgate and enforce these new policies as written by the St. Mary MacKillop Coalition. Now it is time for every other prelate in the United States to follow in his footsteps and put these protections in place immediately.
SNAP is writing to every single diocese and archdiocese in the country, informing them about these new policies and urging Catholic officials to take Bishop Boyea’s lead and implement these policies today. We know that policies are only one step towards creating a safer Church for children and vulnerable adults, but it is a step forward nonetheless. We hope that parents and parishioners will join us in calling for the immediate adoption of these protections.
A copy of SNAP's letter can be found below:
November 19, 2020
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests
PO Box 56539
Saint Louis MO, 63156
Re: new policies to protect adults from abuse
During a discussion about the recently released McCarrick Report at the virtual USCCB meeting this week, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said something very profound. Archbishop Hebda spoke about the work the Catholic Church has done to protect minors, but lamented that similar protections have not been carved out for adults and added that the McCarrick Report presents an opportunity for the Church to address this deficiency.
We agree fully with Archbishop Hebda that there is more work to be done in this area. Fortunately, another of your brother bishops, Bishop Earl Boyea, has provided an example of an immediate step you can take on this front. We are writing to you today to encourage you to listen to the counsel of Archbishop Hebda and to follow in the footsteps of Bishop Boyea.
Two survivors of clergy sexual abuse have extensively studied canon law and Church policies to craft new procedures that will better serve adult victims and help close loopholes that inherently minimize their abuse. For example, the current Church policy allows documents regarding the abuse of adults to be destroyed whereas documents related to the abuse of children must be maintained. Additionally, these proposed policies contain new protections, such as ensuring that victims’ statements must be verified with them in writing and giving survivors access to records regarding their case so that they can verify that what they reported is what was recorded.
We urge you to take this opportunity to show your community that you take the issue of abuse seriously and are willing to do whatever you can to prevent future cases and support current victims. Establishing these new policies in your diocese is a simple step that you can take immediately to advance the cause of justice, transparency, and accountability. We strongly urge you to do so.
We look forward to your reply,
Zach Hiner, Executive Director
Tim Lennon, Board President
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(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)