Victims want bishops to push for legislative reform
- Victims want bishops to push for legislative reform
- They challenge prelates to back mandatory reporting laws
- Group blasts Catholic officials for “fixating on internal policies”
- “External reform, in legislatures, is what’s really needed,” they say
- SNAP: US bishops gathering should also denounce Missouri church officials
Holding signs, candles and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference outside a meeting of hundreds of Catholic bishops, clergy sex abuse victims and their loved ones will urge every US prelate to
--advocate, personally and publicly, for broader and tougher mandatory reporting laws,
--make sure his lobbyists actively push for this reform, and
--censure or denounce his Kansas City colleague for keeping hundreds of inappropriate sexual photos of young girls from police for at least five months.
Tuesday, November 15, 12:30 p.m.
On sidewalk in front of Marriott Baltimore Waterfront Hotel, 700 Aliceanna Street, in Baltimore (where hundreds of Catholic bishops are meeting)
Three-four clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP - the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)
Because of the child sex abuse and cover up scandals at Penn State, already Pennsylvania’s governor and several state lawmakers are proposing beefing up the state’s mandatory reporting statutes.
But despite a much longer and more extensive crisis within the church, Catholic officials continue to ignore or oppose such legislative reform. Instead, SNAP says, America’s bishops “conveniently fixate on largely worthless internal abuse policies” and block “effective secular laws that truly help safeguard children.”
So in light of the criminal charges facing top Catholic staff in two cities – Philadelphia and Kansas City - SNAP wants the prelates to “actively push for much broader and tougher” mandatory reporting laws, that cover more occupations and include more severe penalties.
In many states, the punishment for refusing to notify authorities about suspected abuse is a fine of several hundred dollars. And in many states, clergy are exempt from reporting requirements, at least in part because Catholic lobbying forces push hard for such exemptions.
(Clergy are specified as mandated reporters in 26 states and many states have exemptions for ‘pastoral communications’ which vary widely from state to state.
SNAP also wants bishops to publicly denounce one of their colleagues, Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn (and his top aides), who admit having kept from law enforcement – for five months - hundreds of photos of girls’ private parts and underwear taken by Fr. Shawn Ratigan. When every US bishop ignores such “reckless, callous wrongdoing” by one of their peers, it shows there’s been little real reform within the church hierarchy, SNAP contends.
For years, SNAP has pushed for reforming or repealing what it calls the “archaic, arbitrary statute of limitations” – criminal and civil – that prevent most child sex abuse victims from being able to expose child predators in court. The group still believes this is the single most effective legislative reform that could protect kids. But Catholic bishops across the US have vigorously opposed such proposals too.