Chicago Sun-Times

SNAP calls for Cupich to rethink plan for bishops to lead sex abuse investigat­ions

- BY SAM CHARLES, STAFF REPORTER scharles@suntimes.com | @samjcharle­s

Leaders of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests on Friday called on Cardinal Blase Cupich to rethink his proposal that metropolit­an bishops should lead investigat­ions into sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

“We believe, in order for this crisis to end, there needs to be accountabi­lity brought in from outside, independen­t and secular sources,” SNAP executive director, Zach Hiner, said during a press conference outside the Archdioces­e of Chicago’s office at the corner of Pearson and Rush. “And given what we’ve learned about clergy sex abuse over the past six months — much less the past several decades — how could we have confidence in the metropolit­an plan, which is basically more bishops policing bishops.”

At a papal summit at the Vatican last month, Cupich said lay experts — people outside of the church — were needed in every step of the investigat­ory process, according to the Associated Press.

However, he proposed that metropolit­an bishops should conduct investigat­ions of suspected abuse by clergy members with the help of lay experts and then forward those results to the Vatican.

“I believe that one of the reasons that this crisis has persisted throughout the years is because hierarchs remain only accountabl­e to themselves,” Hiner added. “Conversely, I do believe that independen­t, secular and outside experts in law enforcemen­t and criminal justice can help bring accountabi­lity into this church.”

In an emailed statement Friday, a spokesman for the Archdioces­e of Chicago stressed that Cupich’s plan “explicitly calls for the involvemen­t of lay experts” in sex abuse investigat­ions.

David Clohessy, the director of SNAP’s St. Louis office, emphasized the importance of letting law enforcemen­t agencies conduct investigat­ions into sex abuse.

“The reason we’re in this crisis — the reason bishops conceal abuse — is because they can,” Clohessy said. “These are, essentiall­y, criminal matters. They’ve got to be turned over to profession­als in law enforcemen­t. That’s the real solution.”

 ?? SAM CHARLES/SUN-TIMES ?? Zach Hiner (left), the executive director of SNAP, and David Clohessy, the director of SNAP’s St. Louis office, speak on Friday.
SAM CHARLES/SUN-TIMES Zach Hiner (left), the executive director of SNAP, and David Clohessy, the director of SNAP’s St. Louis office, speak on Friday.
 ??  ?? Cardinal Blase Cupich
Cardinal Blase Cupich

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