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SNAP demands Catholic publisher stop selling books by accused priests

The victims advocate group says the company is profiting off authors "credibly accused" of sexually molesting children.
Image: "My Meditation on the Gospel" and "My Daily Bread."
"My Meditation on the Gospel" by the Rev. James E. Sullivan and "My Daily Bread" by the Rev. Anthony Paone.TAN Books

A victims advocate group is demanding that a major Roman Catholic publishing house stop selling two books that were written by priests who were "credibly accused" of sexually abusing children.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, said TAN Books is "profiting off of those who have abused children."

"Is it worth the nearly 12 dollars per item to associate your brand with men who are known to have committed crimes against children?" SNAP asked in a letter dated last Wednesday to the North Carolina-based publisher. "Do you believe that you are better arbiters of the facts of the case than the Church officials and lay review boards who heard the details of the abuse?"

TAN Books, according to its website, was founded in 1967 and acquired by Saint Benedict Press in 2008.

Chris Cona, a vice president of Saint Benedict Press, said in an email that "this is the first that we have heard of any complaint from SNAP."

"If they sent us a letter on February 2, management has not yet seen that letter," Cona continued. "We have no knowledge that the priests in question have been credibly accused. We will investigate this matter immediately."

TAN Books identifies itself as a "family-owned traditional Catholic publishing company located near Charlotte N.C." that has published more than 1,000 titles.

"Our products are distributed across the world," the company says on its website. "Our uncompromising mission is to help people become saints."

The two books SNAP is focusing on were written by priests who are both dead but whose books continue to be part of the TAN Books catalogue.

One is "My Daily Bread" by the Rev. Anthony Paone, a Jesuit priest who had postings in New York, New Jersey and Ohio before his death in 1990.

"He was accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1953 while he served at Brooklyn Preparatory School," according to a law firm representing some of Paone's accusers. "After an investigation, the allegation was deemed to be credible."

The company also sells a "follow-up" to Paone's first book, titled “My Daily Life,” for $11.95.

The other book is “My Meditation on the Gospel” by the Rev. James E. Sullivan, who was based in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens before he died in December 2006.

The Brooklyn Diocese identified Sullivan in 2019 as one of the more than 100 priests who had been hit with "credible" accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor.

TAN Books also sells another of Sullivan's books, which is called “My Meditations on St. Paul” and sells for $11.95.

SNAP's request comes amid a wave of book bannings in schools across the U.S. led largely by right-wing conservatives who have targeted titles dealing with race or sexuality for elimination.

SNAP Executive Director Zach Hiner insisted that the group isn't trying to "cancel" TAN.

"We have no issues with the rest of their offerings," Hiner said in an email.

But if TAN continues to sell the books in question, "they should simply be donating that money to survivors," Hiner said, "not enriching the orders and dioceses that helped cover-up the crimes of these men."

"I think there is a clear and stark difference between asking a company to stop profiting off abusers versus banning books that tackle subjects like social and racial injustice," he said.