Pentecost (today) is the last day of our Spring Campaign. Please be generous.
Click here to advertise on

network news

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 14, 2004

The Bishop of Springfield, MA, resigned last week at the same time accusations of sexual abuse of minors made against him became public. The Diocese's interim administrator, Msgr. Richard Sniezyk, has made a very important admission regarding his brother churchmen's handling of abuse.

The newly-elected leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said yesterday the church must "come clean," admitting that an "old boy network" years ago protected priests suspected of sexual abuse. ...

"I think truly an old boy network existed. We have to admit that no one did anything with it in those days," Sniezyk said, adding that priests are now being held accountable.

At first sight, this seems perfectly in keeping with what we've been hearing continually for the past ten years (and more loudly in the last two). But there are some significant differences: Sniezyk is not a victim, a journalist, or an outside agitator, but himself a priest on the inside and a diocesan administrator. More to the point, he has departed from what has become the nearly-invariable chancery script:

  • The standard line is that occasions of abuse were isolated incidents. Sniezyk claims there was a network -- and a network implies wide knowledge, deliberation, and co-ordination.
  • The standard line is that abuse was committed by a few damaged individuals, the "weak, ineffectual men," of Stephen Rossetti's bestiary. Weak, ineffectual men do not stymie the combined forces of outraged parents and law enforcement officials.
  • The standard line is that the re-assignment of abusers was due to ignorance (e.g., about recidivism) on the part of administrators. Sniezyk's use of the N-word suggests that ignorance had nothing to do with it.
  • The standard line is that earlier mistakes were good-willed mistakes, such as misplaced compassion toward offenders. Only ill-will can allow you to keep felons in business.

Sniezyk claims the next step is "a healing process" and professes to believe that the worst is behind us. He seems only partly aware of the implications of his admission -- which may, in fact, be drowned out by interested parties. The bishops, of course, have long been practicing the lines to be chorused at the release of the John Jay Report: first, "We've got everything under control," and second, "More important than all else, we mustn't indulge in witch-hunting or scapegoating." It may be too late.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Simeon - Feb. 14, 2004 11:52 AM ET USA

    I hope it is "too late". I pray their network is unraveling and all the bishops will be forced to admit it has been well entrenched. Their abuse exdends far beyond the sexual scandals the media has broadcasted. They are the most responsible for undermining the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel and teach the fullness of truth.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2004 8:12 AM ET USA

    Expect a "clarification" (i.e., repudiation) withing hours, from a "spokesperson" flunky. Guaranteed.

Matching Campaign
Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

Urgent! We need extra financial support between now and May 24th. May 22
What's wrong with these pictures? May 22
What can we learn from the dignity of military services? May 22
Was Lewis “basically Catholic”? May 21
Reading The Diary of a Country Priest: Scandal May 20

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days