Giving Comfort to the Enemy: Catholic Media Gives Life Support to Anti-Catholic Hate Group

Zach Hiner : SNAP : David Clohessy

Church haters: SNAP president Zach Hiner (l) and tired carnival barker David Clohessy (r)

After a scandal-ridden series of events back in 2017, you would not be alone to think that the group SNAP faded off into oblivion. Its media profile in the past few years has been practically nonexistent.

But now the most anti-Catholic hate group of the past century is getting a much-needed boost of attention, and it's all with much thanks to the so-called Catholic media.

SNAP in a snap

Over the years, SNAP has done very little to actually support victims. Its principal work consists of crazy, bigoted attacks against the Catholic Church. Let's recall:

  • A federal judge once ruled that SNAP defamed an innocent priest "negligently and with reckless disregard for the truth" after the group falsely accused the cleric of sex abuse. The judge also assailed the group for acting "in bad faith" during the case proceedings.
  • SNAP sued for the right to harass and intimidate parishioners at Sunday Mass and has published the phone numbers and email addresses of accused clerics on the its web site to incite the harassment against priests.
  • While attacking the Church for its own malfeasance, SNAP's late president, Barbara Blaine, admitted that while she was president of SNAP she wrote a passionate letter of support on behalf of a SNAP officer who was arrested and jailed on charges of possessing over 100 images of kiddie porn. Blaine thought her letter would be secret, and she then tried to cover it up after the letter became public.
  • SNAP director David Clohessy once suggested that Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua was faking his cancer to avoid making a court appearance. Bevilacqua died in his sleep less than 36 hours after the callous remark. SNAP never apologized.
  • Despite raking in millions of dollars in donations – mostly from Church-suing tort lawyers – tax records reveal that SNAP has provided almost no concrete support for actual victims. In one particular year, SNAP's tax return listed a paltry $593 on "survivor support," while in other years they have reported no expenses for support at all.

It gets even worse. SNAP's own director of development, Gretchen Hammond, successfully sued the group in 2017 with a blockbuster lawsuit outlining how SNAP engaged in seedy kickback schemes with contingency lawyers. "SNAP does not focus on protecting or helping victims – it exploits them," the lawsuit revealed. "SNAP is a commercial operation motivated by its directors' and officers' personal animus against the Catholic Church."

Shortly after Hammond's lawsuit, which was buttressed by a mountain of secret internal documents, both Blaine and Clohessy suddenly resigned. A year later, in 2018, several board members jumped ship as well.

Feeding a dying enemy

Mark Pattison : Catholic news

Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

Yet despite SNAP's long and seedy history as an enemy of the Church, Mark Pattison of Catholic News Service somehow felt the need to throw the group a lifeline and reach out to SNAP for a recent article on the 20th "anniversary" of The Boston Globe's 2002 'Spotlight' series.

Needless to say, despite the fact that abuse by Catholic priests nowadays has become practically nonexistent and the entire abuse story is now a history lesson, SNAP howled that any progress by the Church is akin to "patting oneself for winning the marathon when you're only a mile in." In other words, SNAP wants you to believe that the year is still 1987. It obviously isn't. It was just more crazy talk from SNAP to raise money.

The Church has enough problems without its own media turning to well-honed bigots to predictably bludgeon it. Such writers think they are doing the Church a service by giving a platform to its avowed antagonists. They're not.

They are doing more harm than good.


For additional reading:
- 'SNAP Facts' and our complete catalog of stories on SNAP
- Publicity Trumps Kids' Safety: SNAP Knew About Abuse Claim Against Chicago Priest 'For Several Weeks' But Did Not Call Police; Instead It Held a Press Conference (April 2014)


  1. LLC says:

    Personally, I don't know if CNS deserves such harsh criticism.

    If anything, from the article, reading the raving and pathetic comments from Hiner, in stark contrast with the fact-based, calm, and objective rebuttals from McChesney and others, it is clear that the Church is on the mend, and how She can now use facts and numbers to refute the worn-out and, frankly, old narrative that nothing has changed. SNAP is on its way out, and the more its bigoted and biased commentaries are brought to light, the faster it will go down into the oblivion it deserves.

    At the end, Deacon Nojadera said it right: “I don’t think we will ever be finished with this work”. As long as fallen human beings are involved, there will always be issues. It’s of today the news about UoM and the settlement reached for the sex abuses committed by a team physician. Nobody is immune, this side of Heaven. But even if all other organizations will fail, the Church won’t; only She has Jesus’ promise.