Vatican- It's wrong for pope to ask forgiveness, SNAP says
For immediate release: Friday, April 11, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Pope Francis says he felt “called to take upon himself” the subject of clergy sex crimes and cover ups. He should. He is the world's only global monarch and he continues to let this decades-old crisis fester and build by refusing to take even a single step that protects a single child or exposes a single wrongdoer.
Reuters says he is “using some of his strongest words yet” and Religion News Service says “in his strongest personal remarks yet. . .”
But if a husband keeps beating his wife, the tone, tenor or length of his words are irrelevant.
Words – whether few or many, vague or clear, weak or strong – do absolutely nothing for the boy who is being sodomized today or the girl who is being raped today. They do nothing to divulge even one carefully-hidden church record about a complicit bishop. They do nothing to help fix archaic, predator-friendly secular laws. They do nothing of substance, especially now, especially in this context: a scandal-ridden, secretive, self-serving church hierarchy that wants to pretend real change is happening.
Nice words are especially meaningless and disingenuous when uttered by a powerful man who could instead make practical reforms.
We agree with Pope Francis that Catholic officials understand, to some extent, the damage that has been done. Sadly, that understanding has lead to little real change.
And the damage is still being done. It's disingenuous to pretend, by using the past tense, that kids are not being sexually violated and predators are not being transferred and cover ups are not being perpetuated right now.
The Pope also asked for forgiveness today. We believe it is dreadfully duplicitous for the Pope to ask forgiveness from hundreds of thousands of suffering victims and millions of betrayed Catholics while doing virtually nothing to spare hundreds of at-risk kids from heinous sexual violence right now.
Forgiveness is a private individual choice. The pope however is a public figure. He has the ability to take bold steps that will reduce the need for forgiveness by safeguarding innocent kids and vulnerable adults from predator priests and complicit bishops. That’s what he must do. That’s what he refuses to do.
It is irresponsible to talk 'forgiveness' while the deranged gunman is still shooting or while the drunk driver is still hitting pedestrians. Let's discuss forgiveness when innocent kids are no longer being assaulted, when wounded adults are no longer being deceived, when shrewd predators are no longer in parishes and when callous bishops are no longer being promoted and when secular laws are reformed. Until then, talk of forgiveness is at best, premature, and at worst, a self-serving distraction from the real work to be done: stopping kids from being severely hurt.
Finally, we do not criticize the pope for refusing to meet with victims. Such a meeting, like papal comments, would do nothing, in any practical way, to help anyone, except the Pope himself. It would make some temporarily feel good. It would not signify or lead to reform. (Francis admits understanding the “damage.”) It would likely lead to more complacency, not more vigilance and change.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)