Vatican issues preemptive statement, SNAP responds

For immediate release: Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 503 0003, SNAPdorri[email protected] 

In response to our formal filing at the United Nations, charging that the Vatican is violating the UN treaty against torture, top Catholic officials are claiming that the treaty only has jurisdiction over the tiny Vatican city state. We hope UN committee officials will see through this desperate attempt to hide from responsibility. And we hope that before the May 5 hearing, Pope Francis will step in and stop his staff from making this cynical claim.

Vatican responds to next round of UN abuse inquiry

For decades, when confronted with abuse and cover up reports, top Catholic officials often responded with self-serving hair-splitting - claiming that priests are "independent contractors," and similar absurd legalistic arguments designed to deny responsibility for the crimes of church employees, high and low.

These kind of irresponsible dodges show just hard the Catholic hierarchy works to shuck responsibility. 

How can the Pope be the head of a worldwide organization, but also only be responsible for a tiny city-state of 1000 people? Does the Pope not pick and promote bishops and other church officials across the planet? Catholic church officials cannot have it every way - some days being a global monarchy, other days being a tiny city state, and other days being a religious, not political entity.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 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, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,[email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, [email protected])


Showing 3 comments

  • James LeBoeuf
    commented 2014-04-15 20:29:54 -0500
    Thank you Lani for your response. As a catholic torture survivor, i share your frustration. I have been trying for years to engage my own siblings in a discourse about what happened to me and my mother (both ritually raped and tortured for years by catholic clergy), and the more i press, the more they run in the opposite direction. One of my sisters has no memory whatsoever of 8 years of her life (grade 1 – 8 at the same school), and in spite of that refuses to investigate why. The root of denial is a fear of adjusting one’s world-view, including the nature of God, to include new information. People form beliefs that the universe is inherently safe and just in order to feel safe and justified in their own lives. When confronted with information which conflicts with their belief, they don’t adjust their belief to accommodate the new information, instead they adjust the information to accommodate their belief – usually by denying it, ignoring it, claiming it was God’s will, or whatever. This helps them to remain warm and fuzzy, but it further marginalizes and traumatizes the victims, and in fact blames the victims for their own oppression. I wish there was a formula for overcoming denial that did not include traumatizing the denier, but I don’t know of one as of today. It seems that SNAP has the best approach – just keep telling the truth in spite of all obstacles.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-15 17:21:56 -0500
    Shame on the pope! Shame. Shame and more shame on the pope and his chosen “workers”!!! And, shame on any of catholic parishoners who remain complacent, tolerant and accepting of these actions of the catholic church heirarchy who hinder and stymie this “battle” to rid the catholic church of predatory pedophiles and rapist CATHOLIC priests.
    Again, I feel compelled to question the common decency of the majority of the members of the catholic church. What is WRONG WITH ALL OF THEM?! (I truly begin to wonder if they are “nuts”!!! in the same way Hitler was, and the Nazis were. Do they really think that 21st century parents and grandparents in the developed world are going to continue to willingly “hand over” their precious children to a church that aids and abets catholic priest pedophiles all around the earth?!!!

    Again, I am wondering how many of the members of the catholic church would KNOWINGLY ACCEPT this “status quo” of including active, pedophile rapists and torturers in the priesthood, as a “requirement” of remaining being a catholic?
    It’s literally difficult for me to imagine, that decent, ordinary men and women, especially those who are parents of young children, would knowingly “stay catholic” after learning of the true depth and breadth of the sexual violence being committed globally, by catholic priests. And it is equally difficult for me to understand that after learning that, the catholic congregation would accept giving the pope “forgiveness” for this horrible situation, rather than demanding that the church instead be defrocking and sending the pedophile priest offenders to the civil justice system of the diocese where they committed these crimes. I actually am shocked, particularly after reviewing the following passages in the Bible; Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2 that this pope would have the audacity to ask us as (Christian) catholics, to “forgive” them and him. Do the vast majority of catholics really believe these are forgivable acts, these crimes against humanity?! Even Christ, himself, did not tell us we should forgive these heinous crimes of the pedophile priests. Rather than forgiving such crimes and criminals, Christ said that it would be better for such a sinner to have a millstone tied around his neck and to be drown in the sea.
    I think I must ask myself, have most catholics never heard or read these particular words of Christ in the Bible? That seems almost as incredible to me, as it seemed to me when I first learned of the pervasiveness and massive scale of these particular crimes being committed within the global, catholic church.
    Even if the majority of people hadn’t heard or read those words, isn’t there a more pervasive, innate, common sense belief in decency, than evil? Lord knows that ordinary heterosexuals are more in number in the populations of the world, than there are pedophiles.
    Shouldn’t we decent people at least be able to come together to stop the pedophiles from using our church for the sole purpose of sexually victimizing innocents? I am with Christ on this issue. Forgiving the pedophile priests, as this current pope has asked us to do, would not stop the pedophile, predator priests, and I for one, will not be forgiving of any of them.
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