Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill
Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–March 13, 2012. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is at it again. In addition to playing a major role in the right-wing war on women, the all-male hierarchy of the Catholic Church is trying to silence an organization dedicated to helping women and men who have been victimized by clergy.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is a tiny organization of almost all volunteers with an annual budget of less than a half million dollars. The threat SNAP poses to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is not based on its relative strength, but on the power of the truth. So, naturally, the bishops want to squash them like a bug. How’s that for Christian morals?
For decades, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church swept accusations of sexual abuse under the rug along with its collective conscience. Now, in two Missouri cases, attorneys for accused priests are inundating SNAP with subpoenas and other tactical measures that can be viewed as an abuse of the legal process.
The National Organization for Women wants to know: How much money are the bishops spending to demolish SNAP? Wouldn’t that money be better spent establishing processes for rooting out sexually abusive priests and caring for their victims?
The USCCB officially denies that there is a national strategy to suppress SNAP. But subpoenas in the two unrelated cases are nearly identical. According to The New York Times, both subpoenas include requests for correspondence related to “repressed memory” even though it is germane to only one of the cases. The denial of coordination, in the face of this evidence to the contrary, calls into question the integrity of the bishops.
In fact, the bishops’ consistently abysmal response to sexual abuse charges against Catholic authority figures in general should call into question their claims of moral conviction in their current crusade to take birth control coverage away from all women.
SNAP has performed a huge public service by calling attention to the institutional cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The bishops should respond by taking aggressive action to end abuse, not shooting the messenger.