Victims Call on Bishops to Support Whistleblowers

November 11, 2003

Barbara Blaine, President & Founder, (312) 399-4747 cell
David Clohessy, National Director, (314) 566 9790 cell
Peter Isely, Board Member, (414) 429-7259 cell
Mark Serrano, Board Member, (703) 727-4940

Six Courageous Priests Praised by Abuse Victims

November 11, 2003/Washington, D.C. – Today the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP, called on Catholic Bishops to encourage parishioners, clergy and other s in the church to report all cases, past, present, and future, of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities. In addition, SNAP asked the bishops to sign a pledge that they will not retaliate or tolerate retaliation in the church against whistleblowers who report abuse claims or suspicions of abuse to civil authorities.

The following is a statement made today in Washington, D.C. outside the bishops’ conference fall meetings by SNAP Board Member Peter Isely of Milwaukee, WI:

"Part of the story not told in the Catholic Church before are the many acts of courageous priests who have spoken out about child sexual abuse in the church at the risk of their own careers and standing in the church. We are here today to commend these outspoken and courageous men, and to encourage other priests and parishioners everywhere to report abuse or suspected abuse (in the past, present, or future), and to support victims in their parishes and dioceses like many of these priests have.

Some examples of the actions of these courageous priests include the following:

· Father James Scahill, Diocese of Springfield, MA – Who has withheld parish funding to his diocese in protest of his bishop’s handling of abuse cases.

· Father Robert Smoot, Diocese of St. Louis, MO – Gave testimony in court that led to the recent conviction of a priest perpetrator.

· Father Robert Hoatson, Archdiocese of Newark, NJ – Fired from his job as a school administrator three days after testifying on behalf of victims in the NY state legislature.

· Monsignor Lawrence Breslin, Diocese of Cincinnati, OH – Who reported a known sex offender to Vatican officials that hired the perpetrator into a top-level diplomatic post.

· Monsignor Kenneth Lasch, Diocese of Paterson, NJ – Who regularly supports victims and their family members in SNAP support meetings, and reports cases directly to the police.

· Father Joseph Starmann, Diocese of Jefferson City, MO – One of only three known priests in America who has lobbied for extending the statutes of limitations on sexual abuse.

We know of other priests and members of the church who also support victims, lobby for changes in the law, and work with law enforcement officials to bring perpetrators to justice. We thank them for their courage and commitment to the cause for truth, healing, and justice.

We are asking Bishop Gregory and his fellow bishops today to pray for and honor the courage and sacrifice of these good priests. In addition, we are asking all bishops to sign and support a pledge that they will protect and defend whistleblowers who are clergy, church employees, volunteers, and other parishioners; as well as encourage all members of the church to report abuse or suspected abuse to law enforcement authorities immediately."

The pledge reads as follows:

I hereby pledge to encourage all members of the church to report any suspected sexual abuse (past, present, and future) to the proper civil authorities and to speak out publicly about any known abuse in the church. I further pledge to ensure that no member of our church community will suffer any repercussions whatsoever for taking steps to expose sexual misconduct and criminal activity. Speaking out in this way will ensure a safer environment for the children of our church.

SNAP List of 6 Courageous Priests

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