Jan 29, 2019 (IECurrentAffairs) The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious and institutional authorities (priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns, coaches, teachers, and others) has been approached to call out the Jesuits Provinces in India, particularly two institutions under Jesuit Madurai Province (Loyola College Chennai & St. Joseph’s Tiruchi) to release the names of proven, admitted and “credibly accused” Jesuits.
R. Joseph Kennedy, an alumnus of Loyola College, Chennai & Savio Rodrigues, Founder & Editor in Chief – Goa Chronicle & IndianExpose, who will be collaborating with SNAP on their ambitious project “Hail Mary” had earlier raised this issue with the leaders of this powerful support group.
“As of January 15th, 2019, all Jesuit provinces in the United States have unveiled lists of priests accused of abuse. This was the right and moral thing to do. Are the rules different / not applicable to the Jesuit Provinces in India?” Kennedy asked the leaders of SNAP.
For over 20 years, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has operated with a mission to expose clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up work that was extensively highlighted in the Oscar-award winning film “Spotlight”.
Tim Lennon, President of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), responded through an email communique to Goa Chronicle and IndianExpose “We are glad that Jesuit officials are taking this first step towards transparency and healing. The disclosures that were a surprise to the general community were not a surprise to us. The recent revelations of widespread sexual abuse by Catholic clergy has awakened awareness in the US. The widespread public outrage has forced all Catholic institutions to disclose those religious clergy (priests, nuns, deacons, monks, brothers) who have been accused of sexual abuse and rape of children, minors, and the vulnerable. The Jesuit provinces have also been forced to disclose the predators within their midst.”
The disclosure of such horrific abuse is not limited to the US. We saw similar widespread sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in Australia as the result of their Royal Commission national investigation. Cardinal Pell, the third highest Vatican official, was recently convicted of sexual abuse in Australia. We have also seen other national investigations in Ireland and Germany find similar pattern of widespread sexual abuse in Catholic institutions.
We feel that institutions of civil society (justice system, newspapers) who are responsible to ensure the safety of their community must take action. An active and involved community is the best assurance of a safe community. A key element in taking action is a community that is aware and vigilant. So those efforts by educators, advocates, media reporters, documentary film makers are crucial for social change, protection of the vulnerable and justice through bringing truth forward.”
Today, there are more than 16,000 Jesuits around the globe, famously including Pope Francis. Religious order priests constitute one-third of all priests in the U.S. and the Jesuits are the largest group, with more than 2,600 priests, brothers, and scholastics.
In August of last year, the Jesuit Superior General, Venezuelan Father Arturo Sosa, released a letter calling on all Jesuits to share in the suffering of abuse victims and to help foster a culture of protection.
“You can’t just pray this away. They need to change what is deeply wrong within their congregation. They need to introspect and ask themselves why they are still participating! It is also important to understand that this is not just physical abuse but spiritual abuse too. And when a Priest does this to you, he robs you of your faith.” Kennedy said.
“Crimes which are committed in catholic institutions always follow a pattern. A pattern in actus reus and mens rea. I will be exploring and exposing these patterns in Hail Mary” Kennedy concluded.
Tim Lennon also pointed out that the names had been kept secret for years, “Releasing the names is the first step the Jesuits must take. The Jesuits then must take the next step, of reaching out to every parish, every school, every victim, and offer support, help, and comfort to those harmed. Church officials should have released these names a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. We rely on civil society to protect its citizens as we can’t rely on the church to tell the truth.”
Similarly, Savio Rodrigues said “Abuse by someone in a position of privilege and authority is an unspeakable violation of human decency and completely antithetical to the mission and ethos of St. Ignatius of Loyola.”
“Releasing these names publicly is crucial not only for the healing of survivors, but also to encourage victims who may be suffering in silence to come forward and to deter future clergy abuse crimes and cover-ups.” Savio said.
“I will write to our honorable Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi Ji and also to the Indian Ambassador to the HolySee to call upon all the Jesuit Provinces in India to release the names of those accused of abuse cases.” expressed Savio.
IndianExpose had earlier observed a pattern in Bishop Franco’s case and a Jesuit priest from St. Joseph’s Tiruchy Fr. Rajarathinam. While any credibly accused Jesuit in the US is immediately removed from active ministry and is reported to civil authorities, rape accused Jesuit Fr. Rajarathinam continues to serve in active ministry and is currently the Secretary & Correspondent of Loyola College, Vettavalam.