Survivors Lay Out Steps New USCCB President Can Take Immediately on Clergy Abuse

As US catholic officials are set to vote on new leadership, survivors of clergy abuse are hoping that this new leader will immediately take steps to improve how the body has addressed cases of clergy abuse and cover-up.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will elect their new president tomorrow. This new leader will succeed the outgoing Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, a prelate who leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, have castigated as continuing the cover-up and failing to take decisive action to protect children and support survivors.

“The new president has an opportunity to address this scandal better than any prior leader has,” said Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member and volunteer leader in the Washington D.C. and Virginia areas. “We hope that he will listen to our asks and take steps to protect children from sexual abuse today.”

The group has laid out specific steps that they want the new President to take, including:

Insist that bishops at every diocese around the country release lists of priests, brothers, nuns, deacons, seminarians, and other church staff or volunteers accused of abuse. This move is an easy one for Church leaders to take that will demonstrate transparency and will get critical information about abusers in the hands of parents and the public. This process began 17 years ago but most bishops only began posting the names of accused abusers in the past year. The new president require each diocese to release these lists immediately, and also insist that dioceses that have already released lists should take steps to update them with any new information.

Require Church officials to turn over files related to abuse and cooperate with secular investigations into clergy abuse. The new president can encourage bishops to do outreach to secular law enforcement such as a state’s attorney general, asking him/her to begin an independent review into cases of clergy abuse. In states where attorneys general cannot start an investigation of their own, the new president should implore bishops to proactively enter into cooperative arrangements with Attorneys General, as was done in Colorado, in order to demonstrate their commitment to prevention and help get potentially dangerous abusers off the streets.

Institute better monitoring protocols for priests, brothers, nuns, deacons, seminarians and other church staff or volunteers who have been laicized or who left their positions due to allegations of abuse. A recent AP investigation found that many of priests who have been accused of abuse within the church and then left the Church have gone on to secure positions in other institutions that would allow them access to children. The new president should immediately invest in a permanent monitoring and tracking system that can help ensure these dangerous men and women do not simply move on to abuse children elsewhere.

“These are simple requests that survivors and advocates have been making for years,” said Dave Lorenz, SNAP Volunteer Leader for Maryland. “If the USCCB wants to demonstrate their commitment to protecting children and vulnerable adults, they should institute these reforms immediately.”

CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Board Member (703-801-6044, SNAPvirginia@cox.net), Dave Lorenz, SNAP Maryland (glydonct@gmail.com, 301-906-9161), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)


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