A support group for victims of clergy sex gathered in Washington, DC for the pope’s visit to demand that he hold bishops and cardinals accountable for concealing sex crimes committed by priests. Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) denounced the pope’s speech in which he criticized the way the scandal was handled. SNAP says that the pope’s criticism is not enough; he must act.
Barbara Dorris, SNAP outreach director, issued a statement saying, “Five years ago, US bishops paltry, begrudgingly adopted some minimal promises on paper. There’s no evidence to suggest they’ve had any real impact and it’s terribly na’ve to assume that’s the case. Child sex crimes and cover-ups have plagued the church for decades, and the church is an ancient, rigid, secretive, all-male hierarchy that moves at a glacial pace. No one who truly understands institutional behavior could believe that centuries-old patterns can be undone in a few short years.”
Victims are demanding a change in Catholic canon law requiring priests who commit crimes against children to be immediately defrocked. They are also demanding disciplinary action against bishops and cardinals who enable abuse to continue by covering it up.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the website Bishop Accountability, told the New York Times, “Rather than shifting attention to pedophile priests, he needs to focus on the culpability of bishops. The crisis occurred because many U.S. bishops were willing to hide their priests’ crimes from the police with lies.”