The President of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Tim Lennon, released a statement on Thursday demanding action from the federal government.
For more than forty years the widespread and systemic abuse of children and its cover up by officials of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has been brought to light by survivors.
· In 1974 hearing-impaired victims of Father Lawrence Murphy, including the recently deceased Gary Smith, distributed fliers outside a Milwaukee cathedral protesting the Church’s failure to remove this prolific abuser from ministry.
· More than thirty years ago a pedophile priest from Louisiana, Father Gilbert Gauthe, made national headlines. His superiors knew about his abuses and failed to take action to protect children.
· In 2002, when the Boston Globe highlighted the same abhorrent practice in the Archdiocese of Boston, there was already mounting evidence of widespread sexual violence and church cover up.
· Following the “Spotlight” report, more revelations from across the country continued to be exposed.
· Yesterday, an explosive grand jury investigation into six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania described horrific crimes and the most callous disregard for the safety of innocent children, with the foreseeable consequence of grievous harm to those young lives.
Despite all the evidence that thousands of children suffered needlessly to protect the image of Catholic Church, federal officials have taken virtually no steps to probe or prevent these crimes or cover-ups or punish clerics who conceal or commit them.
SNAP asked for such action in 2003, and again in 2014. We will never know how many children would have been spared harm if decisive action had been taken in 2003, or even in 2014.
Today, we are again demanding that the federal government take action. Please do not waste any more time waiting for the Catholic Church to reform itself.
Survivors of the abuse renewed calls for a federal investigation. The Center for Constitutional Rights and SNAP sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation. They say they want to ensure the protection of future children and prevent any abuse by taking action now.
Lennon says, “It is time for the United States Department of Justice to fully investigate those responsible for a system that has enabled the commission of these horrific crimes.”
SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.