What Is Our Diocese Really Doing for Victims of Priest Sexual Abuse?


(You may wish to copy and paste the letter only into MS Word and include your own return address, etc.)

August 13, 2004

Bishop William F. Murphy
50 North Park Avenue
Rockville Centre, New York 11571

Dear Bishop Murphy:

As a Catholic in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and as a member of Voice of the Faithful, I was both pleased and puzzled by the diocesan response to the opening of a chapter of SNAP on Long Island. It is heartening to know that, according to the diocesan director of communications, Sean P. Dolan, the church’s support of victims is “unwavering and includes counseling and support as well as the prayerful support of the Catholic people of Long Island.” I have no doubt about the prayerful support provided by all Catholics for those affected by this scandal. But I am confused: To whom was Mr. Dolan referring when he said the diocese “cannot stand as partners with groups of individuals who seek to divide and further the pain of victims?”

Perhaps you or Mr. Dolan might explain who would do such harm to those affected by clergy abuse. Surely he cannot mean SNAP, an organization founded by survivors to help survivors? Surely he cannot mean VOTF, an organization that wholeheartedly supports SNAP’s efforts?

Who are these people “who seek to divide and further the pain of victims?” Might they be those who commit the acts of abuse and deny them, those who move the accused from parish to parish and even to other states, those who try to silence victims, or those who withhold comfort, consolation and compensation to victims?

Perhaps, too, someone from the diocese would be willing to enumerate the many ways in which the diocese is providing “counseling and support” to victims. On the diocesan website, in the report titled “Restoring Trust,” under the heading Victims’ Assistance, it says that the diocese’s Pastoral Intervention Team assists in providing “restorative healing responses to victims, families, parishes and communities; immediate and ongoing intervention to repair harm and promote healing; coordination of medical evaluation and treatment services, spiritual guidance, identification of support groups and other social services and resources for healing.” Admirable, to be sure — and I would like to learn more.

What are the diocesan “restorative healing responses?” What are the “resources for healing” made available by the diocese? SNAP meets on Long Island every fourth Saturday morning of the month; when do diocesan support groups meet? Would you please describe the “unwavering support” the diocese is providing to those abused by clergy and their family members?

As a member of VOTF, I would like to support any diocesan efforts to assist those who have been so terribly hurt and whose trust has been so brutally betrayed. Bishop Murphy, I need your help to do so. I eagerly await your reply.

Yours in Christ,