One of the disheartening developments in the field of religion that I haven't had time recently to write about is the upheaval happening with the group called SNAP, formed to give voice to people sexually abused by priests and others in the Catholic Church.
The two top leaders of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests have left the organization in recent weeks, though both of them say their departures were planned some time ago and are not a response to a recently filed lawsuit that, as this Associated Press story reports, "alleges that SNAP 'routinely accepts financial kickbacks from attorneys' in the form of donations in exchange for directing potential clients to those lawyers." Here is the National Catholic Reporter's story on the lawsuit.
Barbara Blaine, who founded SNAP in 1988, left the organization a week ago, about a month after the resignation of executive director David Clohessy. I have met and talked with Clohessy several times and have admired his persistence in bringing abuse cases to light, especially in light of his own story of having been abused. At the same time, I have close Catholic friends, including priests, who have criticized SNAP's approach, particularly its relentless criticism of a church that has been trying to clean up its act.
I frankly don't know where all the truth lies in all that or whether there is any merit in the new lawsuit. (SNAP president Blaine said just before she resigned her position that the allegations in the suit "are not true.")
What I do know is that there is a continuing need for representation of victims, which SNAP has tried to provide. Some such victims continue to suffer in silence, afraid to take their histories and charges public. And when they do agree to go public with their stories, they need all the support they can get in facing a huge international organization with lots of legal resources and a history, until recently, of not being honest about its abusive priests and the bishops who enabled them.
So even if somehow SNAP falls apart or is shown not to have acted honorably, the essential work of being an advocate for people abused by priests and others in the church will not go away.
The goal of the church should be to put SNAP and other victims' advocacy groups out of business because they truly are no longer needed.
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A METHODIST GAY PASTOR FINDS WORK ELSEWHERE
Have you been wondering what happened to the Rev. Cynthia Meyer, a United Methodist pastor from the Kansas City area who was placed on an involuntary leave of absence after she came out as gay? Well, as this RNS story notes, she's now serving as an interim pastor for Central United Church of Christ in Topeka. The UCC, unlike the UMC, allows ordination of otherwise-qualified gays and lesbians. The UMC may eventually get there, but probably not without a major schism. Sigh.