LONDON (Reuters) - A U.S.-based group which campaigns on behalf of victims abused by clergy arrived in London Tuesday to urge the Roman Catholic Church in England to identify “predator priests,” saying it had hid past abuses.
The Roman Catholic Church is reeling from a series allegations of sexual abuse by priests that have surfaced in Germany, Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands.
“Our goal is to reach out to victims of abuse and we came (to Europe) because we had heard from so many victims saying it (abuse) is here, are you going to help us?” Barbara Dorris, of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told Reuters.
Surrounded by photographs of abused children, and joined by three British victims who told of their ordeals, Dorris and colleague Barbara Blaine chose a spot close to Westminster Cathedral in central London to deliver their message.
The cathedral is the largest Catholic church in England and Wales.
Arriving in Europe a week ago, the pair have already toured Germany and Austria, forging victim support networks and making contact with existing ones in different cities.
Both women who were themselves abused by priests in the United States, are asking the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, head of the Catholic church in England and Wales, to take immediate action to tackle reports of abuse.
Blaine, SNAP’s president, called on the archbishop to open up his records on possible sex crime cases in England and turn them over to the police.
The diocese of Westminster could not immediately be reached for comment.
SNAP says it has already been contacted by 45 victims in England looking for help and expects many more to come forward once proper support is in place.
“They could do so much more but they haven’t,” added Dorris, SNAP’s victim outreach director. “This is the beginning and we are going to publicly ask (Nichols) to intervene.”
Editing by Alison Williams