Statement from Msgr. Richard Sniezyk

Iobserve [Springfield MA]
February 23, 2004

SPRINGFIELD, MA - "I would like to clarify comments I made which appeared in today"s Boston Globe newspaper and subsequently in other news media.

In recent weeks, I have been asked to comment on how our Church finds itself in such a difficult and painful time. I have tried to reflect honestly on these questions, recognizing the need for people to have answers.

During my conversation with the reporter from the Boston Globe, I did offer some reflections on the historical context of the abuse crisis with regard to a small number of clergy/abusers.

Let me be clear and unequivocal, I did not mean to suggest, nor do I believe to be true, that sexual misconduct in any context is ever acceptable. Clearly, those who have preyed upon our children have justified their actions in many different ways, including the delusion that they, the abusers, were not harming the children, when in fact they were causing great and long-term harm. They clearly benefited from a society that set the priesthood apart and allowed abusers to go unchallenged in a behavior, which today clearly would be recognized as wrong. While it is important to note how abusers acted and how they may have escaped notice, it is more important to condemn the result of their actions " the terrible and sickening violation of children and the long-term horrific results. I wish to be clear that these abusers represent a very small minority of priests.

It is equally important to realize that the vast majority of priests, especially those I have the great pleasure of ministering with in the Diocese of Springfield have never violated their vows, nor abused their position and the vocation to which they have been called, to serve the Church.

I am deeply sorry if my comments, as well intended as they may have been to present possible answers to the questions I have been asked, caused distress to the faithful or unnecessary and unfounded suspicion of the priests of my diocese. In fact, as I have specifically stated the priesthood has become more sensitive to these issues in the last twenty years as we have learned more about the causes and effects of sexual abuse of minors. I can assure you, the priests I serve with are honorable and good men, committed to serving the Church and its people.

Together we remain committed to coming to grips with the abuse crisis and then, with these hard lessons learned, move ahead and re-earn the trust of the faithful, especially victims and their families."

Msgr. Richard S. Sniezyk
Diocesan Administrator


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