The Catholic Diocese of Springfield sees progress, SNAP sees more of the same
In a press conference held Wednesday, September 8, 2021, Bishop William Byrne of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield recognized the work of an Independent Task Force on the Diocese's response to sexual abuse. The Independent Task force spent over a year reviewing how the Springfield Diocese responded to allegations of clergy sexual abuse.
We appreciate this finding from the group. “The Task Force learned that a significant number of the ‘people in the pews’ are disillusioned by the diocese’s failure to communicate fully and accurately about the issue of clergy sexual abuse. In fact, many survivors said that the experience of having to deal with the diocese was more damaging to them than the actual sexual abuse.” Parishioners within this Diocese should be more than just disillusioned, they should be outraged. Abusive clerics baptized them, confirmed them, blessed them, married them, and buried their loved ones.
But we find that we must echo the reported response of Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, “History has taught us that the Diocese of Springfield has been involved criminally in the wholesale sexual abuse of children for decades, cannot be trusted, and is interested primarily in financial gain.”
The Springfield Diocese claims that they are doing the work needed to restore faith and trust. In June of 2021, they finally released a list of abusive clergy that dates back to the 1940s. However, in our view, no institution can truly claim progress until there is no longer a cover-up, no longer a victim suffering alone and in silence. Before any ‘Task Force’ can address the problems and deal with them, it is imperative to deal with the wreckage of the past and fully disclose the truth of how the Diocese allowed it to happen. Parishioners would not find themselves "disillusioned" if Catholic officials would be fully transparent about what happened in the past before they attempt to move past it.
(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)