USA--Bishops promote complacency when they should be promoting vigilance

For immediate release: Friday, May 20, 2016

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home,[email protected])

Year after year, bishops issue the same flawed, deceptive self-survey trying to promote complacency when they should be promoting vigilance.

Under intense public pressure 14 years ago, US bishops adopted a weak, vague abuse policy. Bishops ‘comply’ with these self-serving steps of course because their insurers, defense lawyers and public relations experts insist that they do.

And even then, they often give only the appearance of compliance.

For example, at least ten admitted, proven or credibly accused pedophile priests remain on the job in the US today.

One of them, Fr. Eric Swearingen of Fresno, was actually found guilty of child sex crimes by a jury yet has since been promoted.

So for all the pledges of reform, in reality, bishops are still safeguarding their comfort and careers instead of safeguarding innocent kids and vulnerable adults.

Bishops continue to ignore several massive ‘elephants in the room’ that aren’t changing. The biggest of them is the rigid, secretive, all-male monarchy in which prelates are never defrocked, demoted, disciplined or even denounced no matter how irresponsibly they act regarding kids’ safety. And it’s worth noting that this monarchy remains every bit as intact now as it was 14 years ago.

Bishops’ policies, procedures, protocols and panels sound good. But they are meaningless because there’s no independent monitoring or enforcement. It’s as if bishops design the game, hire the umpires and declare themselves winners.

It’s disingenuous for bishops to pretend their “review board” is in any way independent. They claim it’s a watchdog when in fact it’s a lap dog.

Until secular laws are reformed, prelates who enable predators are fired, and there are major structural changes in the church hierarchy, kids will continue to be needlessly assaulted while bishops continue protecting predators and their own reputations.

When ten or twenty bishops are jailed or sacked for putting children in harms’ way, then the church and will be safer, and not until.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747[email protected])


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