Catholic Bishops Offensive in Sex Abuse Cases

For about a year now it’s clear to those of us working to protect children from sexual abuse that the nation’s Catholic bishops have decided to go on the offensive. While they know they can’t attack the survivors of sexual abuse (they already tried that and it backfired), they’ve decided to attack a non-profit organization with three employees. The Catholic bishops have decided to take on, or perhaps more accurately, take down the Survivors of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Why? It’s simple. SNAP has done an excellent job advocating for survivors and getting them the assistance they need. They are also very good community organizers (seems like the gentleman living on Pennsylvania Avenue is not the only community organizer the Catholic bishops disdain).
Late last year, one of the founders of SNAP David Clohessy was served with a subpoena to give his deposition in a priest abuse case in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The church lawyers contended that Clohessy had knowledge about the case and was subject to a deposition. The transcript of the six hour deposition was just released and it’s clear that the church lawyers were not interested in the Kansas City-St. Joseph case but the inner workings of SNAP. Essentially, the Church has decided to silence SNAP by engaging them in a legal war of attrition, knowing full well that the non-profit doesn’t have sufficient resources to defend itself in court.
Of course, for the church lawyers to engage in these tactics they would to have had at least tacit approval of the bishops. It’s a shrewd and calculating move on the part of the Catholic bishops but it’s ultimately a very cynical one that will most likely backfire as badly as their earlier strategy of attacking survivors. The Catholic bishops are playing a dangerous game and they may end up the ultimate losers with their own faithful. Catholics expect their bishops to be men of God, shepherds of the Gospel not dons hiding behind their lawyers.