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Abuse survivors rally in Baltimore to demand action by newly elected US Catholic bishops president

Jonathan M. Pitts, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Religious News

BALTIMORE — After the more than 270 members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops elected their new president in Baltimore, some observers of the nation’s most powerful Catholic body hailed the choice of Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio as a healthy compromise between the conservative and progressive factions that have emerged into public view in recent years.

Others were less sure about the longtime archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA — and they gathered Wednesday outside the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, the site of the bishops’ annual conference, to make their voices heard.

With icy winds gusting in from the Inner Harbor, representatives of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, held signs and announced three principal demands of the incoming conference president: pledge to stop the church from using funds to fight legislation that would give survivors more time to seek justice against abusers; call out a minority of bishops who have declined to make public the names of credibly accused priests, and create systems for monitoring the behavior of those have been separated from the church over sexual misconduct.

SNAP leaders said they have particular concerns about Broglio, as the archdiocese he oversees is one of only three archdioceses and more than 12 dioceses that have yet to make public the names of “credibly accused clergy, deacons, nuns and laity.”

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a 2002 document by the bishops that established procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, calls for “transparency" but stops short of requiring such disclosures.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, Taylor Henry, referred reporters to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for comment. Chieko Noguchi, the organization’s public affairs director, did not respond Wednesday to messages.

 

According to a statement issued by SNAP leaders, the election Tuesday of Broglio “sends the message that the transparency promised” in the bishops’ 2022 charter “is no longer a priority for the church.”

Frank Schindler, a SNAP member and an abuse survivor who lives in Baltimore, called Broglio’s election “a disgrace” and a “clear sign” the church is not backing up its claims of openness.

SNAP leaders said in their statement that Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, the outgoing conference president, did too little to counteract what they called the “ongoing sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.”

“We hope beyond hope that this new president will break from the trend set by his predecessors and actually address this ongoing scourge, as opposed to ignoring it,” the statement continued.

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