Remember the

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - Tennessee




Why SNAP exists

I received the following today.  In answering this email, I realized that my answer tells who we are in SNAP and what we are doing.  I hope it helps others understand.  Susan Vance

Dear SNAP,

I am getting so weary of this abuse scandal. It's bad enough that there are so many victims. Now all I'm seeing is you trying to make more victims. You're trying to bankrupt our churches my taking the money that we as the faithful give for the survival of our faith. It's not the faithful that have done that! It's individuals. They should go to jail. We should ahve our sacraments and our good priests. If you cared about victims, you wouldn't encourage the making of more. You would use a different strategy. At one time, I was supportive of your cause. Now you have betrayed it. You've brought yourselves down to the ranks of the perpetrators as you encourage the stealing and raping of the innocent parishioner by taking the money we put in the basket to sustain our places of worship. The money doesn't belong to the bishops. the dioceses are only stewards of our money. But I suppose it give you headlines and that's all that really matters to you. You don't care who else you hurt!


Dear Catholic parishioner,

There is no group more weary of the clergy sex abuse scandal than the victims of clergy sexual abuse themselves and those of us who try to help them.  As I work with people whose lives have been forever changed and ruined by the crimes of religious leaders, I see people who would give anything if they could change the past and not have their innocence robbed from them.  I see people who would give anything if they could have their childhood back so their adulthood would not be so painful.  I see people who would give anything not to struggle every day from morning to night just to survive.

I and others like me have pulled many people back from the brink of suicide.  I and others like me give of our time and resources to be there when a  victim/survivor needs someone to listen, understand, and believe.  I and others like me are there when no one else wants to be . . to comfort, to love, and to stand up tall and strong for truth and to speak to whomever it takes to get justice for them. 

Clergy sexual abuse is ugly.  So the faithful are tired of looking at it.  Clergy sexual abuse is unthinkable. So the faithful don't want to think about it. Clergy sexual abuse is wearisome to deal with because of the unwillingness of the church to be transparent with the facts that they know.  So the faithful just want us to shut up and let it go away.

Well, dear friend, the clergy sexual abuse scandal is not going away because we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. The clergy abuse scandal is not going away until the last victim is healthy and whole again.  We in SNAP don't manufacture victims.  They are there because the church passed abusive clergy around and did not stop them.  The church allowed clergy to go from one unsuspecting parish to another and prey on innocent lives until statutes of limitations have run out, and these criminals cannot be prosecuted.

You are right.  Clergy who are sexual predators are criminals, but they can't go to jail because of statutes of limitation.

You are right.  They shoud go to jail, but they will not because the church has seen to it that they never were turned in to the authorities to be punished.

You are right. The money doesn't belong to the bishops. The dioceses are stewards of the money. Now, you should be demanding that they be good stewards, that they tell us the truth about when and where abusive clergy were assigned, and that they help the least of these, the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

You claim that we make more victims. We simply offer a hand to those who are still suffering silently and have not gotten the help they need.

You claim that we just want headlines and don't care who we hurt.  We are working for the day when there are no more headlines and when all the victims who have been hurt are healed and happy and healthy.

You claim that we steal and rape the innocent parishioner by taking the money that we put in the basket to sustain our places of worship.  The stealing and raping has been done by abusive clergy and bishops who have protected them from punishment.  If my money as a Catholic parishioner goes to help one of these victims whose life is forever ruined, then I am proud not angry.

I sit in the same pew with you.  I want the church to survive in holiness.  But I will not let those who have been crushed by the church leaders go unhelped. If you see that as a fault of ours in SNAP, then I cannot help you.  If you think this is about money, then I cannot help you.  If you think this is about headlines, then I cannot help you.  If you think this is about getting publicity, then I cannot help you.

This is about truth.  This is about justice.  This is about helping the least among us.  This is about holding the most powerful institution in the world accountable for the lives that have been ruined by its clergy.  This is about giving restitution to the people who must struggle just to survive each day:  emotionally, physically, spiritually.

Thank you, dear Catholic friend, for your letter. I will read it every day.  It will remind me how far we have to go in this fight for victim/survivors.  It will spur me on to fight another day.  It will encourage me to seek to help more of the vicitms who are out there and who are hurting.  It will be my inspiration.

And as I pray each day by name for the victim/survivors for whom I work, I will also pray for you.


Susan Vance
SNAP of Tennessee