Writer for a Jesuit magazine states that the Catholic Church is safer today - SNAP emphatically disagrees

For Immediate Release: January 6, 2022

Twenty years after the passing of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, its director of implementation has written a piece for a Jesuit magazine extolling the changes in the American Catholic Church and boldly asserting that children are safer today. We here at SNAP do not agree with this rosy assessment. We believe that the reported incidents of abuse of boys and girls by Catholic clergy have gone down substantially since 2002 merely because of how and when survivors of child sex abuse report.

The simple fact is that according to our records-keeping over the past two years, every month two more Catholic clerics or staffers are arrested for contemporaneous abuse. Additionally, each month more and more priests are outed as abusers, too many of whom are still alive and in ministry. What this means is that any child around them, ever, was not safe until the arrest was made. In addition, delayed disclosure is a reality: the average age of a survivor coming forward to report child sexual abuse is 52.  This means that it is far more likely that survivors who were abused in the years since the charter was implemented have not yet spoken out. It is difficult to take the author’s claims seriously about the Church being "safer" when new arrests, and new abusers being named, is a monthly occurrence.

  It is also notable that one of the major aims of the Charter was to demonstrate "transparency" in the Church to parishioners and the public. Despite this, there are still a dozen major dioceses and more than 100 religious orders that have steadfastly refused to disclose their abusers. This includes the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, and the Capuchin Friars. We do not consider those places and the millions of Catholics they serve as "safe."

 In our view, the statistics cited by the author are inside baseball platitudes, all from places like Fordham, Georgetown, and other Catholic institutions. The true proof of safety can be found in secular courts, prisons, and probation offices. The simple fact is that, no matter what a poll from a Catholic university shows, there are still too many priests and Catholic staffers being arrested today to claim that the Church is substantially safer than it was 20 years ago. We simply cannot see that claim as proven.

 We firmly believe that until no more names trickle out until no more arrests of new ordinates occur until every single diocese and male and female religious order publishes a list of abusers and commits to updating it in real-time, the Catholic Church emphatically cannot be considered "safe."

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected]), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])

(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)


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