Victims beg Church staff to “blow the whistle”
Victims beg church staff to “blow the whistle”
Pope’s new abuse policy takes effect Saturday
It protects Catholic whistleblowers
Reporting suspected abuse is now everyone’s responsibility
But SNAP urges employees to tell law enforcement first
They call on US bishops to create a whistleblower “reward fund”
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conferences, clergy abuse survivors and advocates will urge church officials to take advantage of Pope Francis’ new whistle blower protections by coming forward to police and prosecutors with any information they have regarding cases of clergy sexual abuse. They will also encourage the formation of a church-run “reward fund” that will benefit whistle blowers who speak out.
Friday, May 31 in Chicago, Washington D.C., and Oakland
Several clergy sex abuse survivors and supporters who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
This Saturday, the Catholic Church’s first-ever world-wide abuse policy officially takes effect. Outlined by Pope Francis earlier this month, the policy says Church staff must report abuse and are guaranteed whistle blower protection when they do. SNAP wants US bishops to “widely publicize these two new rules” to ensure that employees “know about them and will act on them.”
SNAP also wants the US Catholic hierarchy to start a “whistle blowers reward fund” to give more incentive to church workers to speak up when they see, suspect or suffer wrongdoing. The group is also appealing to current and former employees to call secular authorities first, not church supervisors, in these cases.
Throughout the Catholic abuse crisis, thousands of adult witnesses have stayed silent, SNAP believes. It is reasonable to assume that for each of the nearly 7,000 credibly accused clerics counted by the US bishops' conference, at least one adult witness knew or suspected a child was being hurt.
"We call on every priest, nun, housekeeper, janitor, and school principal who witnessed sexual misconduct or abuse to come forward," said Zach Hiner of SNAP. "Under Pope Francis' new edict, there has never been a better time to speak out."
It is ironic that the policy takes effect now, SNAP says, during the same week that
- a prominent Boston whistle blower passed away,
- a monk from Oregon came forward to support survivors of a popular accused priest in Bakersfield, CA and to share his own experiences as a survivor of clergy abuse
- a former top aide to a now-disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick revealed new emails showing that Vatican officials ignored restrictions put on the predatory prelate.
The group hopes that these examples, along with the new protections promised by Pope Francis, will encourage other whistle blowers to come forward and assist in ongoing investigations.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
(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)