Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SNAP To It: Kansas City & Bishop Finn

SNAP is pushing for a grand jury investigation in Kansas City, so reports The National Catholic Reporter.  Thank goodness.  It's about time.  Good wishes for whoever filled their gas tanks.

I used to be skeptical about SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.  Used to think the group was crassly anti-Catholic in that they never bothered to broaden their focus to other populations of sexual abuse survivors and the people who victimized them.  After all, there are plenty of abusers who are Baptist, and Methodist, and United Church of Christ, and...well, you get the idea.  [Update and correction: A commenter who stopped by has set me straight.  There are indeed SNAP chapters that focus on groups other than the Catholic church.]

Not to mention that most priests (including every priest I've ever known personally, as far as I can tell) are not prone to victimizing children.  Most priests are decent men; some of them are very holy men, and not in a cardboard cut-out sense, but in a genuinely down-to-earth, caring way.

So then:  Why a group that focuses solely on the Catholic church?  That's the question I used to ask myself, and a question which many defenders of the church still ask.   (I'm thinking of people who argue, rather sadly, "We're no worse than the rest of society..."  Not much of a defense there, methinks. Nor much witness to the message of Christ.)

And then I got it.  The Catholic church, unlike so many other organizations and employers who have predators within their ranks, is highly centralized in its policies and decision making.  There is a company line here.  For decades and decades and decades -- with regard to the abuse of minors -- it was a lousy company line, but one that was followed by bishop after bishop in diocese after diocese.  Ignore.  Cover up.  Lie.  Lawyer up.  Stall.

SNAP is needed.  SNAP brings both attention and heat to the cases it highlights.  If its rhetoric is occasionally  inflammatory, its raison d'etre is clear.  The group wants to bring about real change in the church, which includes an end to abuse and cover-ups, and justice for survivors of abuse.  Believe it or not, the church owes SNAP a big round of thanks.  (I'm guessing, though, that members don't expect to hear any clapping until  they get to heaven.  The church on earth is too busy calling the lawyers.)


PatO said...

Now you should have a whole new world of respect for SNAP.

They were the same as you, but not as lucky. They got raped by a priest when they were 12 years old, and had no idea what had happened or what to do. They never wanted anyone to know. They still think about it every day, and at every idle moment.

Finally, one of them, thinking he was the lone victim in the world, courageously spoke up. Soon, he found that there were thousands of other victims, and eventually they found out that the Catholic church knew all along.

Only the worst people in the world would know about a child rapist and move them to a place to rape more children. Only the worst people in the world would silence the children and tell them that they would go to hell if they told anyone (see "Crimen sollicitationis"). Only the worst people would coordinate with others to break God's laws to save their own reputation and leave raped children to figure out the world alone.

Only the worst people did.

Bishops also convinced a billion Catholics that child rape was no big deal, and that groups like SNAP were gold digging, attention grabbing vermin instead of strong, surviving victims of one of the worst possible crimes. Five thousand bishops convince a billion Catholics to fight a hundred thousand victims of child rape.

It's an unfair fight, but SNAP has God on their side. On one side, you have bishops moving known pedophiles, lying, and denigrating victims. On the other side, you have children who were raped by priests.

What side do you think God is on? IF the answer isn't instant for you, you've been listening to your bishops and not to God.

glorybe1929 said...

The one priest, maybe 2 that I thought would have not been, turned out to be sexual abusers of children,of whom they knew the parents.

The RCC is a haven for them. If they are not when they go in, they become just like the rest . They think Christ was gay and site John, as the apostle that Jesus Loved.. This is a real thing in the RCC and priests who abuse believe it and tell it to the young men coming in. I'ts OK. How do you like that????

JudyJones said...

Victims thank you for wrting this article.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests"

Joelle said...

Thank you for the article and for your vocal respect and support.

I, and many other victims, do appreciate it. But a slight correction - feel free to check out the SNAP website. You'll see that there is a SNAP-Baptist, a SNAP Orthodox, a SNAP Boy Scouts, a SNAP Presbyterian, etc.

Not so bad for a bunch of victim volunteers.

Joelle Casteix
SNAP Western Regional Director

Steve said...

I want to thank the members and supporters of SNAP who stopped by here to comment. I appreciate most of what they have added to the discussion, particularly the correction about the other SNAP chapters that focus on groups outside the RCC.

However, with all due respect, I do feel the need to sound a note that is at odds with something Glorybe1929 wrote: "If they are not when they go in, they become just like the rest." I take this comment to mean that just about every priest becomes a predator once he's been in long enough.

I want to be clear here: I really REJECT that conclusion. It strikes me as a careless generalization that is no better than someone claiming that any other broad group of individuals are, essentially, all alike. And it's a hurtful claim, because there are many, many good priests, as well as some very bad priests and bad bishops. But the good ones do not deserve to be lumped together with the bad ones.

Again, I do appreciate SNAP's vital work and the courage of the people who make up SNAP.