I've been following the stories concerning the Catholic Church's attacks on The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Missouri. Basically, they are using the discovery process in sexual abuse cases to request depositions of the SNAP leadership and document requests to obtain files on the survivors of sexual abuse. SNAP is maintaining that these documents are covered by Missouri Rape Shield laws.
Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal adamantly spoke out against the outrageous attempts to intimidate SNAP and compel the release of its records: "The bishops are playing hardball with survivors of priest abuse, but the bishops are not playing hardball with priest predators. The Conference of Catholic Bishops needs to focus on stopping cleric sexual abuse and the hierarchy's cover-ups."
The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”
They also covered two very different responses from the Church's Lawyers and the Church:
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.”
Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.”
However, a spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, said Mr. Donohue was incorrect.
“There is no national strategy,” she said, and there was no meeting where legal counsel for the bishops decided to get more aggressive.
There are way too many issues to address in these responses but here are a few:
– So is this the new national strategy? It wasn't enough to go after the survivors, the survivors' attorneys, but now they go after the group that has provided real help?
– What exactly does Donohue mean by the "need for alter boys"? Is he really that insensitive?
– I guess with the use of "buy lawyers" he really may be.
I look at these attacks as another desperate attempt to get away from liability. The Church refuses to take responsibility for what has happened. It doesn't practice "Zero Tolerance" except against those who try to bring the truth to light.
The best thing the Church could do is accept their responsibility and help make laws better for those who have been injured. They could stop SNAP and the lawyers by stopping the abuse.
Abuse of children and the continued silence by the offenders needs to be prevented. If you suffered, saw, or suspected such events, it is important to know that there is help out there
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.