Washington DC--Organization says papal visit “provokes pain in hundreds”

As pope arrives, group to hold small vigil

 They remember victims who committed suicide

 SNAP: “Many who’ve been assaulted are hurting now”

 Organization says papal visit “provokes pain in hundreds”

 It urges victims to “reach out, get therapy, call loved ones”


Holding signs and childhood photos of suicide victims at a sidewalk vigil, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will

--remember and honor adults who were molested as kids and took their own lives, and

--express support and concern for other victims who are suffering because of Pope Francis’s visit and the laudatory attention the Catholic hierarchy is enjoying.

They will urge all victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to

--keep coming forward and seeking help (from independent sources),

--stay in therapy, support groups and 12 step programs,

--remember that recovery is possible, and

--focus less on church officials and more on their mental health and well-being.


Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 1:00 p.m.


Outside the St Matthew's Cathedral, 1725 Rhode Island Ave NW in Washington, DC


Five-seven members of an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Missouri woman who is the organization’s long time outreach director


Pope Francis’ first-ever US trip is already provoking considerable anxiety and pain among many clergy sex abuse victims, SNAP reports. Many struggle with seeing the pontiff’s popularity “largely obscuring the on-going sexual violence and cover up crisis in the church,” the group says.

“As I see fences surrounding the sites, Francis will visit, I’m reminded of how much this week, a lot of victims will feel like outsiders,” said Becky Ianni, SNAP’s volunteer Virginia Director. “Many of us feel abandoned by church officials and the pope’s time here will be tough. His visit will bring back memories childhood abuse and adult betrayal for some. Others are hurting because the positive and extensive media coverage reminds them of the faith that was stolen from them.”

“We hope that survivors will remember that they are not alone and that they can and will get better and suffer less,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “We hope that they will reach out to other survivors, family, friends and therapists for support and comfort, this week and beyond.”

“When a predator is not only a trusted adult but also represents God on earth, the damage is even greater. Far too many abuse victims carry this heavy burden for decades, overwhelmed by shame and guilt,” said Melanie Sakoda. “When some finally finds the courage to report their abuse, often they are met with hostility, blamed for the crimes and treated harshly by church officials. When the pain became unbearable, hundreds have taken their own lives. We are here today to remember them, to assure their families we have not forgotten them, and to raise awareness so that these distressing numbers do not increase.”

SNAP believes that hundreds of US clergy abuse victims have taken their lives. In the Wichita diocese, five young men who were sexually violated by Fr. Robert K. Larson committed suicide.


Many consider SNAP an “activist” group. But it has always been, and remains, primarily a self-help support group dedicated to “giving hope and coping skills to men, women and teenagers who are in pain because of clergy sex crimes and cover ups perpetrated by church officials,” its leaders say.


Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Becky Ianni of Burke VA (703 801 6044, SNAPvirginia@cox.net), David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, bblaine@snapnetwork.org)


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