DALLAS: When the US Conference of Catholic Bishops gathers here on June 14 for its spring meeting, reporters from around the world will follow.
So will the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which plans to stage its own symposium during the congress of clergy bosses.
"Our goal is to better equip our newer members with information on our organization and our mission, said Mark Serrano, head of SNAP's Mid-Atlantic region and founder of ProActive Communications, a Washington, DC-area PR firm.
At the three-day event, SNAP officers will lead sessions on media relations and launching local chapters. Serrano, who has worked for several White House candidates, said that the organization's long-term strategy would mirror that of a Presidential campaign, as it seeks to establish a grassroots presence in each of the country's 195 Catholic dioceses. "In order for us to reach survivors in every possible place, we've got to expand out in that fashion, he explained.
SNAP national director David Clohessy said, "The most effective way for us to reach out to those who need support is through the news media. But for someone who has been victimized at least once by a priest, and then again by Church leaders, the notion of sitting down to talk to a reporter can be very frightening."
"We hope to boost the confidence level of our members, so they can feel more comfortable about speaking out."