Abuse survivors are calling for the “immediate… punishment and expulsion” of the cronies of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, warning that with regard to pedophilia in the Church, and the cover-up of crimes of that nature, “awareness is meaningless without concrete action”.

– “What is most important for the world to now know is not the specifics of what McCarrick did, but the specifics of who else knew”: SNAP

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, released a statement today celebrating that with the publication of the Vatican report into ex-cardinal McCarrick – the former Archbishop of Washington who was stripped of his cardinalate and priesthood by Pope Francis over sex abuse crimes – “there is finally more awareness about the realities of his career and the ways in which a dangerous sexual abuser was able to hide within the Catholic Church while also climbing his way to the top”.

However, SNAP warned that the mere publication of the Vatican report is not enough, and that accountability is also needed. “The immediate step that must follow the publication of this report is the punishment and expulsion of those who knew about McCarrick’s crimes but did nothing to stop them”, the survivors’ group affirmed.

SNAP said that “what is most important for the world to now know is not the specifics of what McCarrick did, but the specifics of who else knew”. “What did they know? When did they act on their information, and with whom did they share it?”, the network probed.

SNAP added that the disinfectant of daylight on the McCarrick case is necessary so that the evil of clergy sex abuse and its cover-up is finally eradicated for good.

“Abuse thrives in secrecy and it lives in fear. Powerful men like McCarrick were able to get away with their abuses because too many were kept in the dark by those who were afraid of what bringing in the light would do”, the group denounced.

– A call to the Church to implement “concrete steps toward change”

In its statement Tuesday, SNAP also called on the Church to implement “concrete steps for change” in terms of transparency and accountability so as to ensure “that the future will brighter than the past”.

Such a pledge to rectify must necessarily include “the removal of any prelate who was aware of McCarrick’s crimes and did nothing”, SNAP said, also urging the Pope “to talk earnestly and often about what actions he is taking to combat clergy abuse worldwide”.

Overall, the Church must recognise “that the abuse crisis is not a thing of the past, but an ongoing problem due to a continued lack of transparency and accountability”, SNAP warned.

Summing up its response to the Vatican McCarrick dossier, SNAP said the publication of the report “is one step in the right direction”.

“It is now up to the Vatican to take action. The remaining steps need to be implemented swiftly so that those who have just now learned about McCarrick’s history can be confident that the mistakes of the past are being corrected and that this history – sordid, sad, and criminal – will not ever be repeated”, the group insisted.

– A plea to president-elect Biden “to implement measures to secure transparency”

Despite its powerful call to the Church to wake up to what remains to be done on abuse transparency and accountability, SNAP is in fact not waiting for Vatican officials and bishops to catch up.

The survivors’ group is relentlessly pressing ahead come what may on its course for change, writing to US President-elect Joe Biden to ask him “to act swiftly and decisively to implement measures to secure transparency from the Vatican and accountability to the victims of clergy sexual abuse”.

In their letter to Biden, members of SNAP and the association Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA) called on the nation’s second Catholic president “to set a new course, bring justice to survivors, and finally heal our Church”.

SNAP and ECA asked Biden to do three concrete things: to address the US Bishops at their Fall General Assembly November 16-17 to demand of them full “transparency and accountability”, to involve survivors in the choice for a new US ambassador to the Holy See, and to establish “a nationwide investigation into clergy sex crimes and their institutional cover-up”.

“The Catholic faith is the moral foundation of your personhood. It is a faith that you have never abandoned in your long history of public service”, SNAP and ECA reminded Biden.

“It is no surprise to us, who were raised Catholic just like you, that in your acceptance speech you quoted scripture. Or that you shared with the nation your favorite hymn, On Eagle’s Wings, so well-known to all Catholic churchgoers”, they continued in their letter to the president-elect.

“Victims of clergy abuse, along with the US Church, are ready to move forward. But we cannot do so without your help”, SNAP and ECA concluded in their appeal to Biden.

More on Novena on the Vatican McCarrick report:

US Bishops express “sorrow and apologies” for McCarrick scandal, “another tragic chapter in the Church’s long struggle” against abuse

Vatican releases report on ex-cardinal McCarrick, says John Paul hired him, Benedict fired but did not try him and Francis trusted in predecessors


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.