Tuesday, January 4, 2011

SNAP's Reaction to State Department Rape Abuse Scandal Cables

I recently posted cable traffic from the US Embassy in the Vatican regarding the Catholic Church's rape abuse scandals. Curious as to why the Embassy was reporting on SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and seeking a possible explanation as to what about their activities the State Department considered redactable on national security grounds, I contacted Barbara Blaine, the head of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Below are my questions and her answers.

Where you aware that the US Embassy in the Vatican was reporting on your activities?

Do you have any idea what information could have been redacted on national security grounds?

Also, what was the objective of the protest held on March 25, 2010?

Our event on Mar 25 was not so much a “protest” but rather an announcement and a plea. We were announcing information about the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests. The documents we passed out indicated that top officials in the Church had information that was kept secret. Had it been made public and/or turned over to police children might have been protected. We fear more children are at risk and victims who have been hurt still suffer needlessly in shame. We asked that the Pope and other church officials reveal the truth to both protect the vulnerable and to assist the wounded.
Here is a copy of the advisory we sent to the media announcing the event.
Pope & top aide kept 150 sex allegations vs. predator secret
In 1998, they rebuffed 3 bishops who wanted pedophile ousted
Then-Ratzinger’s staff refused to act because of “fear of scandal”
Victims want pontiff to “come clean” on cases he handled in 2001-2005
US cleric molested hundreds of hearing impaired children in confession
Vatican’s #2 official is also implicated in dozens of pages of long-secret records
Holding signs and childhood photos at sidewalk news conferences, in Rome and five US cities, clergy sex abuse victims will
-- disclose dozens of pages of long-secret church records showing that the world’s top two Catholic officials insisted, for years in the 1990s, on keeping a serial US predator priest’s case secret, fearing “scandal,”
-- urge the Pope to disclose how he and his office handled pedophile priests for years earlier this decade, and
-- urge anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoers, protect others and start healing.
Thursday, March 25, 11:00 a.m.
In Rome, in Via della Conciliazione, the street outside the entrance to St. Peter's Square
Four US clergy sex abuse victims who are leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including the organization’s president and founder, a social worker
According to the latest New York Times story, a US pedophile priest reportedly abused between 150-200 deaf kids at a school over 24 years, often during confessions. Yet for years, a small Vatican bureaucracy headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now the Pope) fought 3 US bishops’ efforts to oust the predator, citing a fear of scandal.
Initially, Ratzinger twice ignored letters from Wisconsin Archbishop Rembert Weakland. Later, Ratzinger’s then-top aide, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said Weakland could discipline the priest using a controversial 1962 church policy called ‘Crimens Sollicitationis’ that mandates extreme secrecy. But the predator wrote to Ratzinger, seeking mercy, and Bertone then reversed course. At a meeting in Rome with three Wisconsin bishops, Bertone discouraged them from taking any formal action against Murphy (even though the priest admitted molesting dozens of boys). In 1998, Murphy died. His crimes only came to light in 2002.
Bertone is now the Vatican Secretary of State, the second most powerful church official in the world.
As Pope, Benedict has repeatedly paid lip service to “transparency” in his advice to bishops on child sex cases. In light of this, and recent disclosures of abuse and cover up in his home diocese of Munich, SNAP wants the pontiff to publicly disclose how he handled hundreds of cases from across the globe from 2001-2005 as head of CDF, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office where all such cases are sent.
Murphy worked at St. John’s school from 1950-1974 and headed the school from the early 1960s through 1974. It’s now closed. Besides Weakland, Bishop Richard Sklba of Milwaukee and Bishop Raphael Fliss of Superior also sought Vatican action against Murphy. None acted, however, until civil lawsuits were threatened.
SNAP is holding similar news conferences today (Thursday) in five US cities (Washington DC, Chicago IL, Milwaukee WI, Superior WI, and Boulder Junction WI). For details, see SNAPnetwork.org
Several of Murphy's victims are represented by Minnesota attorneys Jeff Anderson (651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell) and Mike Finnegan (651 227 9990, 612 205 5531 cell).
Peter Isely, peterisely@yahoo.com, +1 414 429 7259, +0039 3388970386
Barbara Blaine, SNAPblaine@gmail.com +1 312 399 4747 
Barbara Dorris, SNAPdorris@gmail.com, +1 314 503 0003 
John Pilmaier, pilmaier@milwpc.com, +1 414 336 8575
David Clohessy, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, +1 314 566 9790
How well it was attended?
There were four of us from SNAP from the US speaking to the press. (There was one native from Rome who is a friend who stood by and helped pass out the documents to the press.)There were about 15 – 20 reporters/journalists who spoke to us.
What kind of reaction did you receive at the protest?
--We were not really protesting. We were passing out information to the press and announcing our hopes and a plea that church officials would reveal the information they hold about sex crimes by priests. As we explained what the various documents contained we held photos of the cardinals, bishops and the Pope, who were mentioned in the documents. We also had several childhood photos of ourselves and other victims of abuse by priests. We were standing on the sidewalk in Rome, with the Vatican behind us.
--The reporters asked many questions. Before long the police came and said we could not stand in front of the Vatican. They took us into custody and took the posters and photos we were holding up for the press.
--At the police station we learned that it was the Vatican police, not the Rome police, who were dictating what should happen to us. We got the impression that it was the photos of the prelates, especially the Pope that was offensive. We were released after a couple of hours but the police kept our confiscated posters and photos.
FYI: SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is a self-help support group for victims, founded in 1988, with over 10,000 members (mostly from the US but growing across the globe.) Our mission is to protect the vulnerable to prevent more abuse and to help the wounded who have already been abused. We are adults who were raped, sodomized and sexually assaulted by priests when we were young. While we painfully accept that we cannot reclaim our shattered childhoods we find it empowering to work to prevent others from being abused. One of the most devastating aspects of our healing is coming to terms with the fact that most of us would not have been abused had church officials done the right thing. For the most part church officials knew about our predators, could have stopped them or at least warned parents and parishioners about the past of the predators, but they did not.
The sexual abuse was so devastating that it prohibited most of us from reporting until we were well into adulthood. Most of us were treated as enemies when we reported our abuse to church officials and/or asked for help from them.
The threat to security does not come from those of us who are reporting about the abuse, our predators and those who enable and cover up for the predators. The threat is real for the children who are within access to predator priests whose identities remain secret. The threat to security comes from the secrecy and the fact that most predators and enablers have not been identified and have escaped justice in every country. In the US (which is the only country where an effort to count was conducted) less than 2% of the predators were indicted. We assume less than that have been criminally prosecuted across the globe.
The Pope and church officials have taken no meaningful action to prevent abuse. They merely make statements and express remorse. Minimal steps could dramatically make the world safer.
The Pope should turn over all information and documents held in the Vatican regarding sex crimes to police. The Pope should order all Bishops and heads of Religious Communities in every country to turn over all information they hold regarding sex crimes to police. They should also be ordered to stop providing homes, jobs and financial resources to fugitive priests who have been indicted in one country and have crossed international boundaries to escape prosecution. The Pope should also reveal the names of all the credibly accused predator priests on the internet so that parents, neighbors and employers can be warned about these dangerous men.
The statements from the Pope and Vatican take no responsibility for the part they play in enabling sexual abuse of children by church employees. It is the church officials who cover up for and enable the predators and the predators who pose a risk to the security of children across the globe.


  1. i think it was jesus christ who stood in the temple in his day and confronted the authorities and called them hypocrits..
    Good for snap and the people who spoke the truth to the vatican idiots..

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