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SNAP responds to Maryland AG report on decades of sex abuse by the Catholic church

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

Earlier this week, the Maryland attorney general released a new report documenting the pervasive history of sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. And a warning that my conversation for the next four minutes or so will include some discussion of those findings. Investigators found more than 600 children were abused by more than 150 Catholic priests in the Baltimore Archdiocese over the last 80 years. We're joined now by David Lorenz. He is the director of the Maryland chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Welcome.

DAVID LORENZ: Well, thank you for having me.

FLORIDO: This is a really, really hard report to read. I had to step away from it.

LORENZ: Yeah.

FLORIDO: I wonder, as you were reading through it, what it did for you - how you were feeling?

LORENZ: Yeah, I had the same reaction. I started reading it and then had to stop. And I will hopefully get through the whole thing, but I'm not sure that I ever will.

FLORIDO: What have you been hearing from victims?

LORENZ: The responses across the board - it's pretty emotional, as you could imagine. There's this, really, sense of relief and validation that finally someone believes us. And it's - you know, it's a law enforcement. It's a Justice Department. But at the same time, there's this unbelievable sense of sorrow. We belong to a club we don't want anyone else to join.

FLORIDO: Yeah.

LORENZ: But we just found out there are 600 more, and it's sad. It's sad. Well, I was talking to one of the survivors today, and she said, I just broke down and cried. So you've got these two conflicting emotions at either end - you know, vindication and utter sadness at the same time.

FLORIDO: A history of sex abuse by the Catholic Church is something that has been established in many parts of the country. But I have to say that, you know, even so, some of the details in this report I found to be so, so shocking, so disturbing. Was it - were the details more severe than what even you have seen in other parts of the country?

LORENZ: Yes and no. I mean, there's sadomasochism in here, but I've seen that in the Pennsylvania grand jury report - in the Philadelphia grand jury. What you just said was an interesting phrase, and I used that today - is child sexual abuse should make us all cringe, right? And yet, somehow you have to modify it to explain that this is even worse than that. And in the church, they didn't do anything about it. They knew this was happening and did nothing about it.

FLORIDO: This report names more than 150 priests. Ten of their names are redacted, though, because they're alive and have the right to ask a court not to release their names. The attorney general has also said no one will be charged. What do you want to see?

LORENZ: We'd certainly love to see them prosecuted. I do think there is no reason why the diocese can't publish the names. All this information came from the church. They know those names, and they can publish them.

FLORIDO: Well, Baltimore's archbishop, William Lori, issued a response to the report, calling the findings that are detailed reprehensible. But he also pledged not to ignore them and noted also that the church is a different place now - that abusers are not tolerated today. It sounds like - that you were not satisfied by that response.

LORENZ: Not in the least. He is still fighting the legislation that will be signed this coming Tuesday to remove the statute of limitations for civil cases against child abusers and their enablers. So I don't really see that things have changed. I see the tactics have changed a little bit, but, in fact, actions speak louder than words.

FLORIDO: David Lorenz is director of the Maryland chapter of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Thanks so much for your time today.

LORENZ: Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate it, and I'm happy to keep this story going.

FLORIDO: And a note - the Baltimore Archdiocese has not yet responded to NPR's request for comment. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michael Levitt
Michael Levitt is a news assistant for All Things Considered who is based in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science. Before coming to NPR, Levitt worked in the solar energy industry and for the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C. He has also travelled extensively in the Middle East and speaks Arabic.
Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
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