Putting the “Bully” in the religious Bully Pulpit


Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation (Luke 6:24–26)


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, one of the main organizations for whom I volunteer my advocacy efforts (and to whom I donate), has recently been under siege in Missouri.

Catholic bishops there (under the direction of the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue and a coalition of high-ranking U.S. Bishops, we have learned), have drawn SNAP into two lawsuits, asking for 20+ years of confidential correspondence with survivors and the press, and deposing executive director David Clohessy.

From the New York Times:

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.”

SNAP is NOT a plaintiff in either lawsuit, and has had no contact whatsoever with the alleged victim in the case where Clohessy was deposed. (Note, this is the same Diocese under indictment for child endangerment)

You can read the whole story about the cases in the New York Times here, and read their editorial here.

The goal of the bishops? Bankrupt SNAP.

I have not commented on the events for a number of reasons. I didn’t want to be distracted from my primary work. I didn’t also didn’t want to draw the ire and wrath of the people driving the bus over my colleagues. But mostly, I didn’t comment because it made me sad. Very, very sad.

I suppose I really wished that the Catholic Church would live up to the New Testament values that they taught me as a child. Things like, “love your enemy,” and verse 10 of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

When push comes to shove, that’s all that victims have ever wanted: justice. The only reason now that victims are using the court system is because Catholic officials did not do the right thing in the first place. They didn’t call the cops. They didn’t protect kids. And when victims (like me) came forward to our bishops, church officials lied to us. The only way to get truth was through civil justice.

But like many people, I still hold a particular naiveté. A part of me thought that while the Bishops may not agree with SNAP and certainly do not like SNAP, they believe that the group has the right to exist. It makes me sad when people like Bill Donohue and others resort to name calling and “sneaking into” the SNAP convention (which is open to the public).

And I can’t help but make a biblical comparison to David and Goliath. SNAP’s operating budget last year was in the $300-400,000 range. That’s less than the operating budget of a FAILING parish.

But with that shoestring, they were able to talk to hundreds of survivors who called the help line or reached out to the dozens of local leaders, refer many of those people to therapists, launch a complaint with the ICC (which sent 5 SNAP leaders to Europe in the hopes of raising awareness to crimes committed by the Vatican), and help people who are hurting.

The vast majority of that work is done by volunteers, like me. Many volunteers are still practicing Catholics (far from the “menace” we are made out to be).

Time will tell, but I believe that these efforts by the Bishops will backfire horribly. The first reason is clear: volunteers like myself and the local leaders in almost every state will keep plugging along. We’ll keep answering our phone and email, paying for the helpline, holding meetings, helping survivors through the healing process, and raising awareness. We don’t collect paychecks from SNAP. If the budget of the organization is gone, we’ll just go back to the “old days” when SNAP was truly a network. It will be tough, but we will muddle through. Why? Because the call for justice and healing is too strong to ignore.

The second reason is something that the bishops haven’t bargained on: the majority of the calls I get now are from the Faithful. When they can’t get answers from their dioceses, they call me. When they see something that is wrong, they call me. When they want to know if their parish school is safe, they call me.

The Bishops and their team are slowly alienating almost every member of their base. First, by not following their own biblical teachings, and second, by shutting down any kind of dialogue with the Faithful, victims, and the community.

They are bullies. And I pity them.




5 thoughts on “Putting the “Bully” in the religious Bully Pulpit

  1. You said it all, Judy!!! TRUTH RULES!!!

    Annette Nestler-VOLUNEER for SNAP Southern New Jersey, USA

  2. More coverup of criminal behavior?

    “Dutch Roman Catholic Church ‘castrated at least 10 boys’

    Two clergymen were convicted of abuse but Mr Heithuis, a victim, was nonetheless transferred by police to a Catholic psychiatric hospital before being admitted to the St. Joseph Hospital in Veghel later that year.

    There, court papers confirm, he was castrated “at his own request”, despite no submission of his written consent. Sources told Mr Dohmen that the surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse.”

    “Government inspectors were aware that minors were being castrated while being looked after in Catholic-run psychiatric institutions, local paper the Limburger reported on Monday.

    The NRC reported on Saturday at least one boy under the age of 16 was castrated to ‘help’ his homosexual feelings while in Catholic church care in the 1950s.

    Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show inspectors were present when the castrations were openly discussed, the Limburger said. The minutes also showed directors of the institutions did not think parents needed to be involved in the decision-making process when minors were involved.”

    “The NRC also said on Saturday the final Deetman report did not mention that a leading politician with the Catholic people’s party KVP had tried to have prison sentences dropped against several priests accused of abusing children in 1958.

    Vic Marijnen, who went on to become prime minister in 1963, was chairman of the children’s home where Henk Heithuis and dozens of other children were abused until 1959.”

  3. Joelle is right, most of us who work with SNAP are volunteers. We spend our money to reach out to victims who are feeling there is no place to turn.

    The church leaders are losing their loyal parishioners, and it is because they are not getting answers from their bishops. Like: why was our priest removed? Or what is happening to our church? Or why did you allow our priest to do this to precious kids? Or why did you not call the police immediately? Or do you even care about our kids? Or has everything I have lived my life for within the catholic church all been a big lie?

    Those catholics are feeling betrayed like the victims feel.

    One day a woman called me because she did not know what to do, her elderly mom and her mom’s elderly friends have always believed everything their church pastors and bishops said. Now these women feel like their lives have been wrong, some who have for years had their funerals planned in their catholic church, are now wondering what to do. They were crying.

    Just yesterday, a victim who is struggling and feeling hopeless, because of this attack on SNAP. He said that SNAP is like his brother and he does not like his brother being attacked. He would feel lost if the SNAP support would disappear.

    Many catholics were, beginning to believe the bishops were really doing the right thing and they were really helping victims of clergy abuse, but now when they see that SNAP ( most of whom are victims of sexual abused by their clerics ) is actually being attacked by those same bishops. They are seeing a whole different truth or maybe you could say “lie”.

    I talk with hundreds of victims who have been through hell here on earth, and to this day there are victims who can not get their bishop to remove their own predator from parishes or schools. They are being ignored, or intimidated to keep quiet.

    I too have been a bit naive, I am shocked that these so called godly men are actually so cruel and corrupt. How on earth did this happen?

    The only answer that I have come up with is this:

    Victims, your voices are strong, powerful, and being heard…! The church officials are scared and they have never been so close to being exposed, held accountable, or even jailed.

    As hard as they try, they can’t shut us up.

    Crimes against innocent kids have been committed by these so called holy men, and the can of worms has been opened, only because very brave victims of clergy sex abuse are speaking up, coming forward, contacting the police, exposing the truth, and trying their hardest to not allow another child to be given the life sentence of harm which they were dealt.

    We will not stop, you can bankrupt SNAP, but SNAP is all of us…. so yes, this attack will backfire. The truth will win out.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” and all clergy.

  4. Amos saysChapt 6:1-13 Woe to you Complacent.. You who do nothing.

    Who is the bully, the abused vunerable person, who has been groomed and lied to, or the predator who premeditates this Crime Against Humanity?

    You know damn well who is the evil one.

    We are on this earth to defend the innocent, not listen to Satan in clothes fit for a King, whose gospel is anything but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of man says do anything you want.

    We will defend our innocents in the name Of Christ Jesus and you may do all you like to stop us but God is Greater than satan. And God has already WON the battle! You’re DONE!

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