Next, I don’t know how many of you are familiar with what’s going on right now between the Roman Catholic Church in parts of Missouri and SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. It’s kind of confusing, actually. Here’s an intro to the situation, ganked from an article in the New York Times: “Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.” SNAP, so far, has refused to comply, out of a commitment to the privacy of its members, who come to SNAP assuming their painful stories will be handled with respect. SNAP operates on a shoestring budget, and is currently under massive financial strain because of these legal attacks. It’s possible that if they lose this current fight, they’ll face fines, or their director, David Clohessy, will go to jail.
The more I read about this issue, the more confusing and upsetting it gets. It’s so hard to see into people’s brains and understand their motivations, and I try to give both sides of a fight a listen, no matter how angry I am. But one particular thing I don’t understand, and haven’t understood from the beginning (OF TIME), is why the Church as a whole never steps back and asks itself, Okay, putting aside the specifics of accusations for the moment — why do so many people always seem so angry with us, hurt, and betrayed? Could it conceivably be because we have angered, hurt, and betrayed them?
It’s that simple.
I believe that even in a monarchical hierarchy like the Church, change is possible — it only requires the people at the top admitting that change is warranted. I believe that righteousness and defensiveness are unattractive and hypocritical in any organization that teaches its members to be humble, examine their flawed natures, and admit their mistakes. And I believe that little people’s opinions matter; that when people claim to be hurting, you stop and ask them what’s wrong, you listen, and you consider whether you yourself might be responsible. My Catholic parents taught me these values.
Also from the NYT article: “Lawyers for the church and priests say they cannot comment because of a judge’s order. But William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York, said targeting the network was justified because ‘SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.'”
I think that’s a tacky thing for a representative of the Catholic Church to say about a victim advocates group that is working to bring comfort, healing, and justice to victims of sexual abuse by priests.
If you would like to donate money to SNAP, you can do so here.