| Clergy Sex Abuse Victims Don't Need Pep-Rallys From the Dioceses
Letter to Bishop Howard J. Hubbard -- Roman Catholic Bishop of Albany, NY February 9, 2004
Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop, Diocese of Albany
40 North Main Avenue
Albany, NY 12203
Today's pep-rally in your support is simply not something Jesus would do, sanction or tolerate. The same is true of last week's carefully orchestrated press conference at which scores of priests, including Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, cheered and applauded wildly -- even booing reporters who asked solid questions.
We know the news conference was painful for many of our members. We fear that today's rally will also be painful for them.
Even worse, we worry that events like this may intimidate other victims of clergy abuse into remaining silent. It is already very difficult for adults who were sodomized and raped as children to speak up. It is even more difficult when church leaders are organizing rallies on behalf of an accused cleric.
We certainly understand that recent allegations against you have been traumatic for you and the many of Albany area Catholics. We also appreciate that your supporters want to offer you comfort. But it's best for all parties if they do so privately. Otherwise, they risk scaring already suffering victims of sex crimes, and reducing the likelihood that other
crimes will be reported to law enforcement.
As the shepherd of the Albany Catholic flock, we hope you will encourage them to provide that support in quiet, appropriate ways. This moment, disturbing though it may be for you and your supporters, is an opportunity to educate parishioners in the Christ-like way to respond when abuse allegations surface.
Vigorous, public displays of unquestioning support for you have the potential of deterring some who were abused by clergy but are still suffering in silence, shame and self-blame from coming forward.
When victims and witnesses come forward, there is at least some chance for prevention and healing. When victims and witnesses remain silent our children remain at risk. Therefore, we hope that you will do everything within your power to foster a supportive climate for victims in this diocese. In particular, we hope that you will discourage further
orchestrated rallies and media events that may provide you with solace but may also rub salt into the wounds of already hurting victims and deter other victims from reporting child molesters.
We in SNAP pray for all the parties involved in these allegations. Every person involved deserves and needs prayerful support.
cc: Bishop Matthew C. Clark
Diocese of Rochester
1150 Buffalo Road
Rochester, NY 14624