Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) to Texas Bishops: it’s not enough
SNAP applauds the release of lists but says that true transparency comes through investigations and urge independent authorities to “trust but verify.”
As advocates and survivors of clergy sexual abuse, we believe that any and all transparency is to be applauded coming from a closed and secret culture such as the Roman Catholic Church. The releasing of these names is at least one small step towards transparency. Still, we are concerned that these lists might not be as transparent as promised.
We recently learned in places like Buffalo, Pennsylvania and Illinois that the dioceses have not been forthright in disclosing full lists of credibly accused priests, nor providing information about the church officials who covered-up their crimes. The only way to ensure that the bishops here in Texas are truly sincere about rebuilding their sacred trust is to allow for independent, properly trained experts in law enforcement to review all the files, including the “secret files” which we learned exist from the Pennsylvania grand jury report last year. We call upon prosecuting attorneys and the Texas attorney general to launch an independent investigation into clergy sex abuse crimes and cover-ups.
We are here today because we are standing on the shoulders of all those early survivors who decades ago came forward with the truth and wisely went to the secular authorities. It is
because of those early victims that the bishops in Texas and around the country are now releasing the names due to the public pressure. These pioneers had difficult paths. They were shunned, discredited, called pariahs and worse, yet they persisted. But because of their courage, strength and bravery, others followed and did the same. We owe a debt of gratitude to those heroes from the past, the present and the future for exposing corruption and evil in an institution that is supposed to answer to a higher power but has been exposed for placing its faith in men, power and money.
While we applaud this statewide release of names as a first step, we believe in the old Russian proverb, ''trust but verify.'' This is 2019 in the great state of Texas. We are proud Texans who care about the safety and protection of innocent children and vulnerable adults. We care about rooting out evil in positions of power within churches of all faiths and we need to trust that church officials are forthright and honest when it comes to the standards of care for innocent children and vulnerable adults. It is that simple.
SNAP is not anti-Catholic. We are not anti-church. We are pro-victim. We exist to provide independent, compassionate support to survivors of clergy abuse, something the churches have failed to do universally. The larger effort of cleaning up the Catholic Church is going to require rank-and-file Catholics to step up and demand and verify the transparency promised by their leaders. We think many believed that this crisis was handled back in 2002, but recent revelations have shown that we still have a long way to go.
When the bishops in Texas take steps to encourage an independent investigation, then and only then will we know for certain that they are walking the talk. Then and only then can we feel content and confident that they are on the road to rebuilding trust among parishioners and the community. As everyone knows, rebuilding trust is much more difficult than being trusted in the first place, and so extraordinary efforts towards transparency and openness must be taken. A failure to be fully honest now will cause greater harm.
Whether it is carefully curating a list to keep some names of abusive priests hidden, or a failure to properly investigate allegations, we believe that any kind of secrecy or hiding of abuse serves the perpetrators and protects the brotherhood of priests at the expense of Catholic children and other children in the community. There is no justification and no excuse for allowing such evil and crime to exist inside a religious institution. Nobody should get away with abusing innocent children or being above the law. That is just plain old common sense.
We urge anyone who sees the name of their perpetrator listed and would like support to please reach out to us at snapnetwork.org or 1-877-SNAP-HEALS. If you or a loved one were abused here in Dallas and the perpetrator is NOT listed, especially if he was reported to the church in the past, please contact Dallas Police Detective David Clark at 214-671-4301. SNAP, and Detective Clark, are here to help.
CONTACT: Lisa Kendzior ([email protected], 817-773-5907), Paul Petersen ([email protected], 972-569-0995), Michael Norris ([email protected], 713-855-9178), Patti Koo ([email protected], 956-648-7385), Mark Hill ([email protected], 512-695-0269), Carol Midboe ([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)