Priest abuse survivors group marks milestone

The Washington Times

By Meredith Somers-The Washington Times Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fearless advocates. Vicious enemies. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests has been called a variety of names — positive and negative — in the last quarter century.

On Friday what’s projected to be the largest conference in SNAP’s history is set to begin in Chicago, where members of the 19,000-strong advocacy group that has been the leading voice in the Catholic Church’s priest abuse scandal plan to discuss the challenges and triumphs of the past year, and usher in the next 25 years under what leaders say is a “cautiously optimistic” view.

“It does feel like we’ve come a long way,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s national director. “At the risk of sounding cliche, we’ve all seen just the tip of this devastating iceberg that doesn’t ever seem to shrink in size.”

Unlike the first year of the Survivors Network, which Mr. Clohessy said was little more than an answering machine and a post office box, the advocacy group now has numerous prosecutors, advocates and victims that are part of their ongoing fight against clergy abuse.

“The most encouraging milestones have been when secular authorities … either investigated or exposed cover-ups and reformed archaic, predator-friendly laws,” Mr. Clohessy said. “When those things happen, that’s what really encourages us more than anything.”

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