Clergy sex abuse support group reacts to Archdiocese of Hartford decision to name pedophile priests

Hartford

The Archdiocese of Hartford’s decision to name priests next month that it says are credibly accused of offenses is getting a lot of reaction in Connecticut and today, a support group that helps victims of abuse by clergy shared its reaction to News8. The women who run the group, called SNAP (short for “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests”), were abused by priests outside of Connecticut when they were minors.

Beth McCabe tells News8 she was abused by a priest on Long Island, NY when she was 12 years old. Memories came flooding back while she looked at an old picture of herself at church at that age.

“I see a young girl, who despite this white robe, was in a lot of pain,” Beth said.

Her SNAP co-leader, Gail Howard, says when she was 17, she was sexually abused by a priest in Oak Park, Illinois, where she grew up. 

“All of a sudden he jumped up out of his chair and slammed me against the wall and put his hands over me,” Gail said. “I was sure it was my fault. I was sure it was my job to keep this horrible secret from everyone else, including my family.”

Gail says the experience made her feel like she was dirt. Beth dealt with self esteem issues, too.

“I kind of call it soul murder because it was taking away the religious life that I embraced as a child,” Beth said.

Related Content: Archdiocese of Hartford to release names of clergy members ‘credibly’ accused of offenses

The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford released a video statement Sunday.

“Judgment is very much on my mind when I think of the heinous crimes of predatory sexual abuse of minors by clergy,” said Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair of the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Gail and Beth tell News8 they believe the Archdiocese of Hartford’s decision to name names of abusive priests is a step in the right direction here in Connecticut, but they also say more should be done.

“These are crimes,” Gail said. “Where are the civil authorities in Connecticut? Connecticut is usually in the lead when it comes to moral issues.”

The names should be released next month. In the meantime, Gail and Beth continue their work to try to help other victims through their SNAP support group. They encourage other victims of clergy sex abuse to reach out.

“They are not alone,” Gail said. “Helping others heal helps me heal.”

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