Remember the Survivors

SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee
The cover-up of clergy sexual abuse continues . . . how much longer?

STATEMENT BY BARBARA BLAINE ON THE JOHN JAY STUDY. GOOD SUMMARY OF THE ENTIRE SCANDAL.

It's clear what American bishops want. They want us to think it's all about
a tiny group of bad apple priests long ago.
   
But it's not.

It's about the bishops, not the priests.
It's about the enablers, not the abusers.
It's about the cover up, not the crime.
It's about the present, not the past.

A passage from Luke, chapter 11, is very apt: "Who, if his child asks for
bread, would give him a stone?" That's what most bishops are doing - giving
us stones instead of bread.

Catholics want and deserve accountability from bishops. Instead, we're given
numbers of abusers.
Catholics want and deserve the full truth. Instead, we're given carefully
chosen partial numbers.
Catholics want and deserve ways to protect their kids. Instead, we're given
excuses and platitudes about privacy. 

The Bible also tells us "the truth shall set you free."

Not a sanitized, minimized portion of the truth.
Not a conveniently chosen version of the truth.
Not public relations masquerading as the truth.
The truth shall set you free.

And right now, we don't have it. We may be a tad closer, but we certainly
aren't there. And we need to keep pushing until we get there. Victims hunger
for the truth. Catholics deserve the truth. Kids, to be safe, need the
truth.

Let's talk about our terminology for a minute.

The John Jay document is not a study, not a thorough accounting, or God
forbid, not an investigation. It's a self-survey. Period. No independent
corroboration, no spot-checking, no verification, no third party
involvement.

It's also not a sign of greater openness.  Keep in mind that this has been
forced on the bishops by years of seemingly endless revelations, removals,
prosecutions, admissions, exposes, verdicts, lawsuits, and excuses.

Now let's talk about the bishops' terminology for a minute. To the bishops,
we say:

Stop the excuse making:
--- "Our understanding of abuse has evolved."

Stop the minimizing:
--- "Priests abuse at the same rate as others."

Stop the dodging:
--- "Most abuse occurs in the home."

Stop the distancing:
--- "Most cases date to the 70s and 80s."

Stop the self-praise.
--- "No other institution is doing such self-examination."
 
Stop the blaming.
--- "We relied on faulty experts."

These comments don't "provide perspective." They provide cover. They provide
false security. They provide excuses. And they hurt. These comments are
unworthy of true spiritual leaders.

Again, remember: it's not about "other people" - perpetrators, therapists,
parents, other professions. It's about you all, the bishops.

And what have you bishops done?

Let's look back for a moment. In1993, following the horrific Father James
Porter case, church .PR people, defense lawyers and insurance companies
insisted that virtually every diocese adopt a written sexual abuse policy.
Many dioceses established review boards. The bishops set up a national
committee. Thick documents were produced. And the mantra became "We've got a
committee. We've got policies. We're moving on." Is this sounding familiar?

Now the mantra is a largely the same with one new twist. From this day
forward, the bishops' not-so-subtle message will basically be "We've got
policies. We've got numbers. We're moving on."

In all fairness, this time around, ten years later, there has been more
activity, more motion. But action doesn't necessarily mean progress. Motion
doesn't necessarily mean forward motion.
 
There's lots of paperwork, policies, procedures, and press releases. There's
tinkering around the edges. There are small, simple, non-controversial
steps. But again, little substantive reform has occurred.

For example, there are now explicit complaint procedures, written codes of
conduct for priests, formal communications plans with pledges of openness.
On paper, it all sounds good.

But paper solutions didn't work in 1993. They won't work now. 

Finally, at best what we have here is a very partial diagnosis. Remember,
we're talking about a self-survey.

A partial diagnosis is risky. An unbiased diagnosis is better. A cure is
best of all. Now, let's start working on the cure, a real cure.

Back to these John Jay numbers. At worst, these flawed numbers are a
distraction.
At best, they give a very partial diagnosis. And a diagnosis is only the
first step.

No one confuses a diagnosis with a cure. No one should consider partial
numbers genuine progress.

Progress involves changing questionable behavior, not collecting
questionable statistics.
 
But let's look at the bottom line here. Is this self-survey a good thing?

If it leads to reform, both inside and outside the church, that's obviously
good.
If, however, it leads to either complacency or hopelessness, that's
obviously bad.

And if, like last month's so-called audit, it is mischaracterized by
bishops, and depicted in church newspapers and diocesan websites as the
whole truth, that's obviously bad too.

Bishops owe it to all of us to be honest about what these numbers are and
are not. They should avoid the temptation to misrepresent them. And
Catholics should remain skeptical. That's the only prudent response.

Complacency never saved one child. Only skepticism and vigilance protect
kids.

WHAT'S NEXT

For SNAP, what's next is simple.

We'll keep reaching out to and crying with and listening to victims.
Well keep giving them a safe place to be heard and supported.
We'll keep gently prodding victims to tell their loved ones, report the
crimes, and get into therapy.
We'll keep urging bishops to sit with us, and truly hear us.
We'll keep educating parents and parishioners about detecting and preventing
abuse.
We'll keep warning people about the Monsignor Gaffneys and Father Andersons.
We'll keep asking police and prosecutors and lawmakers to take firm action
against abusers.

Honestly, we are a tired and wounded and struggling band of brothers and
sisters. We'll stand together.
We'll do what we always have - rescue and recovery, day in and day out.
We'll look hard for ways to be more helpful than we have been.
And we'll persevere. Inspired by brave survivors like Dan and Art, we'll
preserve. We have to. We're survivors.

For Catholics, what's next is clear.
Catholics should remain skeptical of these numbers and claims.
Catholics should be vigilant and careful with their children.
Catholics should demand real openness.
Catholics should push for genuine reform, inside and outside the church.

SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests