REMARKS FOR THE PRESENTATION OF THE LIFETIME ACHIEVMENT AWARD TO RICHARD SIPE
SNAP CONFERENCE – JULY 10, 2011
One month ago about 2000 Catholics, committed to the reform of the Church, gathered in Detroit to celebrate their first national conference. The reality of the epidemic of sexual abuse was not included in any of the main addresses and given only a minor acknowledgement in the form of a breakout session led by David and Barbara. In the run-up to this event efforts to include the issue as a major topic of the conference were rebuffed. Bob Hoatson, whose unique ministry “Road to Recovery” which has brought peace and hope to countless victims was rebuffed. This omission was much more than a glaring insult to David, Barbara, Bob, every victim today, yesterday and tomorrow and everyone who has stood with and for victims.
It is sure evidence that even the well intentioned don’t get it. They don’t get it about the evil nature and scope of this insidious reality that is all too alive and they surely don’t get it about the nature of the institutional Church they want to reform.
The phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors and adults by Catholic clergy and nuns is more than the violation of innocent people and the criminal cover-up by the erroneously labeled “leaders” of the institutional Church.
It is the mind and soul boggling revelation, over a long period of time, of the reality that there is a very dark side to the Church. It is a revelation that this long nightmare is part of the very fabric of the institution and not an embarrassing and destructive problem that is extraneous to the institution.
It is essential that those caught up in this dark side be affirmed, loved, understood and helped to heal.
It is essential that this dark side and those who sustain its existence be publicly identified and called to account.
It is essential that the true nature and impact of this destructive and anti-Christian dimension of the Church be exposed to the unsuspecting in the Church and in society in general.
It is essential that the many lay persons and clerics who remain in denial be confronted with reality in a non-threatening yet challenging manner.
It is essential that the criminals who have violated the innocent and the even more heartless criminals who have enabled and facilitated this systemic violation be brought to justice.
It is essential that the children and adults of today and tomorrow be protected from the unspeakable harm that will be inevitable unless those in the present who have the opportunity to do something not fail to act.
Dick Sipe has been a leading, clear, driving force in revealing the nature and complex destructive forces of the dark side. He has been a source of hope for countless victims because of his kindness and his realistic yet gentle counsel and direction.
His continuing research has been and continues to be essential in the efforts to expose this evil for what it is and to ensure that the future will be a safe and secure place for children and adults.
Dick has been a source of dread and fear for bishops and religious superiors because of his laser accurate analyses, cutting through the thick blanket of lies, as a consultant and expert in the courts of law, the only place that has more power than the Church and the forum where justice happens.
Dick has been a loving and faithful friend to so many of us who have been prompted by the higher power to walk this treacherous road. His wisdom and love has been a beacon of hope as we have trudged through the ecclesiastical swamp of toxic waste.
This award for a lifetime of achievement, dedication and concrete result is well deserved but pales by comparison to the true reward for his life of commitment to this cause: the freedom from the prison of guilt and pain that he has brought for so many and the assurance that the good people of today and tomorrow will know what this nightmare has been and could be unless these same good people stand up and act.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, Dick’s achievements have been possible and have been successful because of the love, support and brilliant collaboration of one who is equally deserving of this recognition, his wife and friend of 41 years, Marianne.