Monday, September 10, 2012

SNAP: Support for Abuse Victims or Anti-Catholic Politicking?

Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy, and Fr. Thomas Doyle, O.P.

Conference speakers indicate a larger political agenda.

By David F. Pierre, Jr. 

Anyone who has watched the Catholic Church abuse narrative unfold in the media over the past several years has likely encountered SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a body which bills itself as the “largest, oldest, and most active support group” for clergy abuse victims. The organization has been quite successful in building its presence and influence in the media, as journalists and writers often turn to the group when seeking a voice critical of the Church for its handling of abuse cases.

Barbara Blaine, a woman who claims to have been abused by a priest as a teenager, founded SNAP in 1988. The group convened its first meeting in 1991, and David Clohessy, a Missouri man who has also claimed abuse by a priest, joined the group in a leadership role a year later. Prior to joining SNAP, Clohessy worked for nearly a decade for the now-disgraced, radical activist group ACORN.

However, while SNAP’s stated mission is “to provide support for men and women who have been sexually victimized by members of the clergy,” the group’s leadership has allied itself with a progressive social agenda and a full-scale assault on the teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

The real agenda at play?

This past March in Washington, DC, SNAP President Blaine appeared as a featured guest at a high-voltage conference called “Women Money Power,” hosted by Feminist Majority, a very influential pro-abortion lobbying group. At the conference Blaine was joined noted activists Eleanor Smeal, Sandra Fluke, and Dawn Laguens (a vice president at Planned Parenthood) for a panel discussion titled “Bishops, Politicians, and the War on Women’s Health.”

The panelists took turns railing against Catholic leaders for their positions on “reproductive freedom” (read: contraception and abortion) and their opposition to the Obama administration’s healthcare mandate. Needless to say, the venom in the room against the Catholic Church was palpable.

Most notably, Blaine sat right next to Rev. Barry Lynn, the well-traveled president of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State whose progressive views have made him a fixture on cable television talk shows.

Blaine must have really appreciated Rev. Lynn’s talk (which can be viewed on YouTube), because just a few months later he appeared as a headline speaker at SNAP’s annual conference in Chicago. On that occasion, the energetic Lynn—a minister in the United Church of Christ—simply built upon his Church-bashing speech from the Feminist Majority conference, claiming that Catholic bishops have “no moral authority” to speak on women’s issues and human sexuality and asserting that the Church’s opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate was a “total fraud” and an “unimaginable distortion of the very idea of freedom.” According to Lynn, the Church’s objections to the HHS mandate were not really about religious liberty, but about being given “special treatment” and the “power” to impose their religious doctrine on others.

What did any of this have to do with the topic of clergy sex abuse? Why did Blaine choose Lynn to speak at her conference? They are good questions. Lynn made a brave attempt to tie the subject of clergy abuse to his talk, but ultimately the issue served as little more than a vehicle for a larger assault on the Catholic Church and advocacy for left-leaning social policies.

Child abuse is “allowed” in the Catholic Church?

Another speaker at SNAP’s Chicago conference was author Judy Braun (she has also published under the names “Judy Brown” and “Eishes Chayil,” which means “woman of valor”). In a wild presentation titled “Monotheism and Child Sacrifice,” Braun argued that Jewish communities and the Catholic Church view the sexual abuse of children as an acceptable form of child sacrifice, with roots in the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac... (continued)


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