USCCB Asks President Biden to Adhere to Catholic Doctrine, SNAP Asks for Federal Investigations Instead
As the 46th President was sworn in yesterday, Catholic officials in the United States immediately began exercising their powerful political muscle. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement on their personal policy agenda, putting pressure on President Joe Biden to adhere to Catholic doctrine.
Rather than promoting an agenda based on religion, survivors and their supporters have an entirely different set of suggestions for the new President.
As advocates for the children and adults who have been sexually abused by at least 7,000 US-based priests, we ask that if President Biden agrees to "engage" with the USCCB regarding its agenda, that he also include survivors and advocates in those talks so that the issues related to sexual abuse prevention, reparations for victims, and a national commission can be discussed as well. Surely, the entirety of the moral issues facing the Catholic Church and its leadership should be considered in a balanced fashion.
We would ask that President Biden follow in the footsteps of countries like the UK, Australia, and Canada, using the powers of the federal government to open an investigation into the historic and ongoing abuse of children and adults within religious institutions in the US. Similarly, we believe that the federal government should spend its time not on adherence to a specific faith doctrine, but by focusing on evidence-based policy, informed by science and data, that will create more pathways to prevention and additional opportunities for restorative justice.
It is difficult to overstate the power imbalance in this situation. The institutional Catholic Church has a powerful political apparatus that has successfully spent millions to lobby against reform that would help to prevent future cases of sexual abuse and to change the rules of government programs to benefit churches at the expense of the public. So while the Church uses its power and money to curry favor with the most powerful political office in our country, we hope that President Biden and his advisors will look to the thousands of people who do not have powerful lobbyists and million-dollar bank accounts to hear the other side of the story.
(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)