He Warned Catholic Bishops of Sex Scandal 20 Years Ago; Now He Prods Protestants to Act
Just Like Catholic Bishops, Baptist Officials Claim ‘No Authority’
Baptist President Repeats ‘Powerlessness’ Claim; SNAP Disputes That
WASHINGTON, April 12 LAWFUEL – Lawsuit Newswire — A priest and canon
lawyer who first warned of the Catholic sex scandal in the mid-1980s has
written to officials of the largest Protestant denomination urging them to act now to better protect kids.
Father Thomas Doyle of Vienna, Virginia is prodding Southern Baptist
officials to consider that, to make children safer, they may need to find
“a new way” to institute accountability for Baptist clergy.
A self-help group for victims of clergy sex abuse has been urging
Southern Baptists to do what Catholics and other faith groups have done by establishing a review board to hear molestation reports and instituting a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.
The Chicago-based support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of
those Abused by Priests and other Clergy (SNAPnetwork.org), delivered those requests to Southern Baptist officials last September. They took no action on SNAP’s requests, and said they have “no authority” over autonomous Baptist churches.
Doyle points out that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also
claimed to have “no direct authority” over any diocese, “each of which is
civilly and canonically independent.” Yet in 2002, after hundreds of
victims spoke up and the scandal reached national proportions, an oversight mechanism was nevertheless finally created.
Southern Baptist president Frank Page responded to Doyle that, while
Catholic bishops claimed to have “no authority,” Baptist officials “truly
have no authority.”
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said David Clohessy of St.
Louis, SNAP’s national director. “If Baptist officials genuinely cared
about this problem, they would find a way to effectively address it.”
“Whether religious leaders claim ‘no authority’ or ‘truly no
authority,’ it’s still kids who are left at risk,” said SNAP-Baptist
coordinator, Christa Brown of Austin, who maintains the
StopBaptistPredators.org website. “If kids are going to be made safer,
Southern Baptists must find a way to rid their ranks of clergy predators
and to hold accountable leaders who turn a blind eye. How many more wounded kids will it take before Baptist officials take action?”
Doyle’s letter and a link to Page’s reply are at