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I put a blog post on January 16 entitled 99,601.  I thought it was pretty innocuous, more of a “I’m still out here” piece than anything else.   It drew a vitriolic response from one reader who decided that it was more of an exercise in narcissism and that I should be taking a more vocal stand against the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).  To be honest, this is my blog and I am going to write as often as I am moved to on topics of my choosing.  If you don’t like it I would like to direct you the freshly pressed section of WordPress.  There is some really neat stuff there.

If you have read this blog for any length of time you will know that I do not have a lot of love for the National Director of SNAP.   I have voiced my opinion on SNAP and the way the national board conducts business.  I wrote a blog post entitle Parting Company with SNAP that spun up a lot of comments and heated discussion, some of it too nasty to approve on both sides of the discussion.   Do I really want to rehash that?  Not so much!   I don’t think, as a blogger, I need to announce annually  that I am not a fan of the national leadership of SNAP.  I still hold out hope that at some point the Survivor community finds a network where we all get an opportunity to work together collectively to advance a legislative agenda that will lengthen statutes of limitation

Instead of pointing out, again, that I think SNAP is a self licking ice cream cone, I choose to spend my time and some of my money supporting organizations like the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse and Justice4PAKids and their efforts to change laws and do real and tangible good.  They are making a difference.  SNAP is more focused on having 2 conferences this year, one here in the States and the other in Ireland.   I guess the National director is working on improving his standing in the airline rewards program of his choice.

At this point I would add that I am very impressed by some of the state SNAP coordinators.  Becky Ianni in Virginia is the real deal.  I have only met her twice, but she is a force for good in the northern Virginia and Washington DC region.  I would gladly support any effort she led.   Karen Polesir has helped me on occasion and is active in a coalition of groups working to get SOL and window legislation through the State Assembly in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I support people like Kay Ebeling who has been reporting (not blogging, reporting) on the sexual abuse crisis for years and has gotten little support from   the survivor community.  She has been inspiring and I consider her a friend.  Funny, the vocal ones have the church, its apologist and many survivors attacking them.   I guess that is the point I am circling here.   Even in the survivor community there is a chasm between elements.  Being a good, compliant survivor or victim makes you a darling to some of the national groups.  Dare to criticize them and see how quickly you are on the outs.  Lessons learned from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church I guess.

For now I look at the future.  I think that change will come but it will not be led by a national organization.  We don’t have an effective one.  It will be led by regional groups, some affiliated with larger organizations, some will be independent.  Fools will rush in and out.   We all need to stay the course.   We really will not get anywhere if we are sniping at each other.

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I have been doing some travel to the Washington, DC area as part of my job.  The project that I am working on has meetings  scheduled almost every Wednesday.  This has afforded me the opportunity to try to get to a SNAP support group meeting that is conducted by the Virginia Coordinator for SNAP in Falls Church on the last Wednesday of the month.   The meeting is  at 7:00 p.m. at TYSONS-PIMMIT HILLS REGIONAL LIBRARY, 7684 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA.  (Please contact: Ellen Radday 703-538-6128 or Wayne Dorough 443-336-4186 for more information.)   I spoke to Becky Ianni, the Virginia Chapter Coordinator to confirm that the meeting was still on.  She assured me that the group was going to meet as scheduled.

If you are looking for SNAP Support Groups in your area, go to the SNAP pages listing support groups for the eastern, central and western sections of the United States.  There are also pages for Canada and Mexico

SNAP should update some of the contact information for some of the chapters.  I know that the information for the area I live in, Hampton Roads, Virginia  is out of date.   There is no information listed on a chapter in Northeast Pennsylvania or for Scranton proper.  Given the number of priests accused/convicted in that area, I would think that an organized support group in that area is greatly needed.

Of course, these support groups are only as good as the people who are willing to come forward and stand up not only for themselves but for others who have been affected by the Clergy Sex Abuse/Assault Scandal. We will be much more successful when we consolidate our energy and resources to affect a change in the law and in the attitude of the church. I don’t believe the latter will happen until the laws change.

In the spirit of change that has captured this country, I recommend that we all stand up together and be heard.

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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