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Susan Kerin, holding sign at right, with other members and supporters of SNAP MD (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), at a vigil and news conference in Harbor East in advance of the selection of the next president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Susan Kerin, holding sign at right, with other members and supporters of SNAP MD (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), at a vigil and news conference in Harbor East in advance of the selection of the next president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [SNAP] endorsed a Texas bishop to become the new president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, saying several other candidates are tainted by the church’s history of sexual abuse in the clergy.

At a news conference Sunday, the day before the annual meeting of the conference, members of the group said they endorse Bishop Daniel E. Flores from Brownsville, Texas.

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Becky Ianni, the director of SNAP, said the group is recommending Flores because the conference “should be looking to younger bishops like Flores” to combat the church’s problems with child sex abuse.

“We need someone who’s willing to step outside the box and take the necessary steps to protect children,” Ianni said.

The conference is scheduled to meet Monday through Wednesday at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, to vote on a new president and vice president.

The survivors group endorsed Flores because others, including front-runner Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, are tainted by investigations into whether they helped cover up sexual abuse within the church, Ianni said.

Gomez is being investigated by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for how the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has handled sex abuse allegations and whether it properly reported allegations to law enforcement.

In a statement, SNAP’s Maryland leader, Dave Lorenz, said the investigation “should automatically disqualify Archbishop Gomez, not make him the heir apparent.”

Members of SNAP read off the names of church members who advocated on behalf of victims and asked those in attendance who will vote for the new president to take the issue into consideration.

“Do we really want the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to be someone who doesn’t fulfill the church’s promises?” Ianni said. “We need someone who’s willing to step outside the box and take the necessary steps to protect children.”

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