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Sex assault survivors group wants new pope to crack down on abusive priests

Updated: April 16, 2013 3:45PM



The national support network for survivors of religious sex assaults is challenging the new pope to live up to his chosen name and crack down on abuse within the church.

Peter Isely, Midwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he hopes the newly elected Pope Francis will not allow priests to continue serving once it’s been determined they committed criminal acts.

“You take his collar,” Isely said, “and he doesn’t get to keep his license.”

He also said he wants the pope to make it clear he wants survivors of abuse to come forward.

Isely’s group, known as SNAP, released a list earlier this month of what it saw as the 12 worst candidates for pope based on their records in dealing with clergy sex crimes and cover ups — its “Dirty Dozen” list.

Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop selected to become pope Wednesday, was not on that list. And SNAP said in a statement it was grateful. But it also said the new pope has “enormous opportunity and duty.”

Isely said St. Francis of Assisi, the new pope’s assumed namesake, was the Catholic church’s greatest reformer. He said St. Francis stood up to the pope, and he thinks the new pope wants survivors of abuse to do the same.

“He is challenging us to challenge him,” Isely said.



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