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Blaming the Victim — Again

“Yesterday, before he landed in the U.S., Pope Benedict XVI said he was ‘deeply ashamed’ of predatory priests, adding that pedophiles would be rooted out of the Church. Today, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is holding a press conference in Washington criticizing the pope for not doing enough.”

So begins an April 16 news release from the Catholic League. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, comments, “Any minor who has been sexually molested deserves our compassion. But what SNAP is doing, aided and abetted by angry Catholics and ex-Catholics, deserves not our understanding, but contempt. This is a group which has a deep ideological and financial investment in painting the Catholic Church as a villain.”

Donohue says, “SNAP’s ideological basis stems from the fact that it positively refuses to recognize the incredible progress that has been made — exactly five priests out of more than 40,000 had accusations made against them for abusing a minor in 2007 — yet for SNAP it’s never enough. Financially, it derives much of its funding from the steeple-chasing lawyers who have fleeced the ‘deep-pocket’ Catholic Church. It’s time we dismiss these professional victims’ advocates for what they are — activists whose goal is to discredit the Church.”

Leon J. Podles, a former federal investigator, senior editor of Touchstone magazine, and a former Catholic seminarian, has written a new book titled Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (2008, Crossland Press, PO Box 26290, Baltimore MD 21210, www.Cross­landFoundation.org). He tells the now-familiar story of how the U.S. bishops stonewalled, threatened, and ignored the victims of clerical sexual abuse and their families, while protecting predatory priests with impunity. But he tells the story in graphic detail. “Bishops,” he writes, “knew about the abuse and sometimes took part in it…. Most bishops were not interested in protecting children.” Podles quotes Frank Keating, one-time head of the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board (fired by the bishops), as saying that the bishops “cared more for the…reputation of the Church than for the ravaged and frightened souls of children.” This is the mentality on display in Donohue’s press release. “Meanwhile,” writes Podles, “the children were left with their secrets, without help, in the darkness of their souls.”

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