September 28, 2017
Barbara Blaine, the founder and former longtime president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, died suddenly a few days ago while on vacation with her husband. Though she had not lived in Toledo for many years, she is one of the great heroes in the history of this city.
Ms. Blaine grew up in Toledo, and it was in a Toledo Catholic school that she was sexually assaulted as a grade school child — by a parish priest she trusted and admired. Years of private pleading with the bishop and other officials of the diocese of Toledo resulted only in broken promises and lies. She got no justice. Barbara Blaine made up her mind that she would devote all her energy, and the rest of her life, to justice. And that is what she did. She had a vocation — a religious one.
SNAP has not been without controversy. And it has sometimes, in its righteousness, painted with brush strokes too careless and too broad.
But, by setting up an international organization on clergy child abuse that has chapters throughout the world, Ms. Blaine and SNAP made it possible for a victim almost anywhere to tell his, or her, story, to get help, and to seek justice.
It has been said that the clergy sex abuse scandal in Boston, tenaciously exposed by fine journalists at the Boston Globe, and famously documented and lauded, could never have been uncovered without SNAP. For abuse victims simply would not have felt safe coming out of the shadows. They would not have felt, or been, supported — legally, psychologically, or emotionally — without SNAP.
And SNAP began as one lonely, wounded, angry woman’s voice.
Barbara Blaine’s was that rare life that left footprints. She knew truth was the fountain of justice.
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