Victims pan first years of Francis papacy

For immediate release: Friday, March 13

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (

As Francis enters the third year of his papacy, to many, his most memorable quote was “Who am I to judge?”

To abuse victims, however, his most memorable quote was “the Church is the only (institution) to have been attacked” over child sex crimes and cover ups. (He said this a year ago.)

He went on to say:

--“The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility.”

--"No-one else has done more” on abuse than the church.

--"The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also clearly show that the great majority of abuses are carried out in family or neighbourhood environments."

These remarks show that while Francis is forward-thinking on some issues, he’s backwards thinking on child sex crimes and cover ups. And that explains why he’s done so little to protect kids, deter cover ups and expose complicity.

What’s of course even more disturbing to us than Francis’ words are his actions – or lack of meaningful actions – on this continuing crisis.  Among his most disturbing moves is his continuing refusal to remove even one bishop for concealing child sex crimes.

(Some claim he did so in Paraguay. But Francis’ spokesman has made clear that this prelate was ousted for other reasons, not because he promoted a child molesting cleric.)

(Like his predecessors, Francis has taken some action against a few bishops who committed abuse. But again, he’s done nothing about those who conceal it, no matter how egregiously or harmfully.)

There’s another anniversary this month. It’s the 2.5 year anniversary of the criminal conviction of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City. His crime: refusal to call police about suspected child sex crimes by Fr. Shaun Ratigan.

Finn remains a bishop in good standing. Not a single prelate on the planet has even denounced him.

Francis quickly ousted Germany’s “Bishop of Bling.” But he continues to tolerate hundreds of bishops who have hidden or are hiding dreadful crimes against children and the clerics who commit them. And he sometimes promotes them.

We are sickened and scared by the widespread complacency among citizens and Catholics about this crisis, complacency that has been carefully and consistently encouraged by self-serving church officials who are anxious to maintain their careers, comfort, power and prestige. Tragically, Francis has and continues to promote this dangerous complacency.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 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, Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003,, Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747,

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