Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse to Gather for Conference

By Jeff Diamant
The Star-Ledger [Jersey City NJ]
July 21, 2006

An estimated 300 people, most of them victims of clergy sex abuse, will come to Jersey City for a conference starting tonight for the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, a national group known by its nickname SNAP.

Speakers at the weekend conference include authors Jason Berry, Richard Sipe and the Rev. Thomas Doyle, who have written about the clergy sex scandal, and the Most Rev. Thomas Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary bishop in Detroit who last year announced he had been molested as a seminarian.

The conference begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 2 Exchange Place. Sessions also will be held there from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. tomorrow and from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.

SNAP gained national attention in 2002 after revelations that many Catholic bishops around the country had protected priests who had molested minors.

Since then, the group repeatedly has criticized bishops' high-profile efforts to make Catholic children safer, saying the steps taken have been inadequate and insensitive to victims.

This will be the fifth national conference for SNAP, founded in 1989, and now has 64 local chapters around the country.

David Clohessy, SNAP's national director, who is scheduled to speak tonight, said yesterday that Catholic bishops in America are "incapable of handling cases with sensitivity and compassion."

Polls have shown that bishops' approval ratings have largely rebounded after reforms intended to remove abusive priests from ministry if they abuse even one minor. SNAP has contended the bishops do not properly enforce the rules.

Clohessy said, "Public attention may be waning, but the pain of victims in many respects doesn't automatically wane and still needs tremendous attention."

Full registration for the conference, at the door, costs $125. Registration for one day is $75. No one will be turned away at the door who can not pay, said Barbara Blaine, SNAP's president.


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