A group representing American victims of sexual abuse at the hands of the Catholic church say that the Catholic bishop of Iceland’s apology is not enough, and the church cannot be trusted to investigate itself.
As Grapevine reported, numerous Icelanders have come forward saying they were abused by Catholic clergy. In response, Bishop Pétur Bürcher has publicly apologised to the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests or other staff, and said that he will initiate an investigation into the church’s practices regarding sex abuse.
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), issued a statement to the Grapevine, expressing dissatisfaction with the Bishop’s response:
No institution can police itself, especially not an ancient, rigid, secretive, all-male monarchy like the Catholic Church, which has a horrific track record of committing and concealing heinous child sex crimes.
It is crucial that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers speak up. However, it is clear that they should come forward to secular authorities, not church authorities.
Apologies from bishops are meaningless. Actions, not words, protect children.
We call on Iceland’s bishop to immediately and publicly oust and identify all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics. He should also post on his website the names and whereabouts of all such predators who ever lived or worked in Iceland as well.
SNAP has been around for about 23 years, with a membership totalling over 10,000 strong. They are the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.