Friday, December 31, 2010

Widespread abuse
New figures show “shockingly widespread” abuse in DE & MD

Victims say more than 80% of Catholic parishes had accused priests

It’s the highest known percentage of any diocese in America, they report

Self help group want families to ask each other “Did a cleric ever hurt you?”

SNAP urges “loved ones” to “reach out” especially to church members who’ve quit

A group that represents clergy sex abuse victims says that new figures show that more than 80 percent of the Wilmington Catholic diocese parishes had at least one accused predator priest worked in them.

The statistics come from several sources, including a Boston-based research organization called, which documents the church’s abuse crisis through compiling news accounts and tracking litigation. The numbers are higher than any other diocese in the U.S., according to a Chicago-based support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“Almost all of the information about predator priests surfaces when courageous survivors find the strength to finally break their silence and speak up through legal action,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “Delaware citizens should be grateful that so many deeply wounded Delaware victims have come forward.”

In New Castle County, Del. — where the majority of the diocese’s parishes are located — the percentage is 90.9 percent (30 out of 33 churches). Seventy five percent of the Wilmington diocesan parishes in Maryland had at least one accused priest assigned (12 out of 16 churches).

“As shocking as these numbers are, we strongly suspect there are even more accused child molesting clerics that no one really knows about yet,” said Terrence McKiernan, co-director of “The silver lining here is that because the Delaware legislature reformed the statute of limitations, more predators have been exposed and more Delaware children are safer as a result.”

“Many Delaware Catholics will be stunned at these figures,” said Judy Miller, Delaware director of SNAP. “We hope they will be motivated to take action to further expose wrong-doing and safeguard kids.”

The organization wants Delaware families to talk among themselves over the holidays and ask each other whether they were molested as kids.

“We know it’s a terribly awkward subject to raise, anywhere, any time with anyone,” said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. “But these numbers clearly show that more families were exposed to proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics than anyone ever realized. And we know that most victims never reveal their suffering. So it’s crucial that we gently but clearly invite our loved ones to disclose their pain if there is to be real healing.”

Other sources for the new numbers include:

-the Official Catholic Directory

-the Wilmington diocese website (

-a list of accused clerics released by Bishop Michael Saltarelli in 2006, and

-lawsuits filed against priests during a recent, two year civil ‘window’ created by the Delaware Victims Act.

Several months ago, a Catholic lay group in Chicago called Voice of the Faithful determined that 60% of the parishes there had been assigned an accused predator priest.

For a copy of a spread sheet detailing the assignments of the predator priests, contact Terry (508 479 9304,, or Barbara (314 503 0003,

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

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