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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

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Snapdragons on My Mind

By Bill Curtis, New Jersey SNAP Leader

On Tuesday morning I attended the sentencing hearing of convicted pedophile Fr. John Banko. I was there with fellow SNAP members Margee Cotton, Pat Serrano and John Bambrick.

As she did during Banko's trial, Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Dawn Solari once again showed herself to be a dedicated and meticulously prepared champion of victims. As part of her sentencing recommendation to the judge, Ms. Solari referenced sentencing letters written by the victim, his mother, aunt and other relatives. She also referenced letters sent to the judge by SNAP members and the fact that some SNAP members were in the courtroom.

In his weak rebuttal to the prosecutor's sentencing recommendation, Banko's lawyer Lewis White III had almost nothing to say. White's lack of a coherent argument for leniency for his client was to me indicative of Banko's guilt. White did ask the judge to ignore the sentencing recommendations from SNAP. He said that we had "an agenda" (we do - and quite an honorable one - the healing of survivors and the protection of children) and that we wanted Banko to pay for others' crimes.

In a rather feeble attempt by White to make some sort of statement against us and our "agenda", White said that members of SNAP were sometimes referred to as snapdragons. No one I know has ever heard SNAP members called that.

It seemed that White wanted the judge to ignore the letters that requested a stiff sentence for Banko as a deterrence to other abusers.

We four SNAP members commented on the snapdragon reference after the sentencing. We were pleased by it. Snapdragons are beautiful flowers. And dragons are fighters and considerable adversaries.

I've had snapdragons on my mind since then and did some research today. I'm sure you've heard that different flowers are symbolic of various things - roses for love, ivy for marriage and fidelity, etc. Here's what I found out about snapdragons:

Snapdragons are symbolic of presumption and despair. This made me think of the presumptuous audacity that abusive priests have shown in disregarding society's norms and abusing children. It reminded me also of the despair (a loss of hope) that these abusers have caused their victims, the victims' families and the whole Church.

I also found a reference indicating that snapdragons say "you are dazzling but dangerous." I think many of us have often found the clergy to be both of these things.

Giving snapdragons is said to be a refusal. I hope that we all give the Church snapdragons as we refuse to accept the Church's poor history of handling abuse.

Snapdragons are said to protect their beholders from deceit and curses. Let's hope that SNAP continues to save vicitms from their abusers' deceit and helps them to survive the curse of their abuse.

I also found that snapdragons are also symbolic of graciousness and strength. We have all proven just how strong SNAPdragons are. Graciousness means Godly, pleasing, acceptable, merciful and compassionate. Yes we are.

But my favorite find on snapdragons was this:

"The shape of the snapdragon bloom brings to mind the little feet and shoes of Jesus. It also reminds us of Mary's loving sharing and bonding with Jesus as she cared for him in their Nazareth home. In imitation of Mary, may we ever nurture and protect the innocence and purity of our own children as we instruct them in the truths and virtues of the Faith."



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests