Welcome, Survivors and Supporters! 
A message from SNAPDFW’s facilitator, Lisa Kendzior
Acknowledge your courage

It takes courage to acknowledge that we’ve been abused and it is not easy to even admit it to ourselves. Just browsing this website is a big step.

Know that you are not alone!

If you’ve been victimized by clergy, please know that you are not alone. You can get better. You can reach out to others who’ve been hurt just like you have.

Together, we can heal one another.

We sanction what we believe -- A 2002 cry to 'think critically about what we believe' has yet to be realized 
We sanction what we believe.

In 2002, America was still reeling from 9/11. The Roman Catholic Church in the United States was beginning to reel from the news coming from Boston that priests had raped children and that their bishops had protected them and allowed them to rape again. And the Vatican was marginalizing the priest sex abuse crisis as "an American problem."

During that same year, a former Catholic priest and still devout Roman Catholic wrote a small book entitled Toward a New Catholic Church (James Carroll. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002).

Never the alarmist, always the realist, Carroll challenged all believers of any faith, but particularly those in his own church, to "think critically about what we believe" before it is, literally, too late. Have we? Have I? Have you?

The truth is that it is no less a necessity to deeply consider what we believe today. For as always, what we believe determines what we will sanction.

In 2012, just this morning, an item in the UK publication The Guardian contains the headline, Iran to announce 'major nuclear progress.'

In 2002, James Carroll wrote:
As demonstrated by the world's move to the brink of nuclear war between Pakistan and India in the spring of 2002 in a dispute that defined itself religiously, nothing less than the future of the human race is at stake in our readiness to think critically about what we believe.

Here at SNAPDFW, a small group of survivors of abuse by those with rank and spiritual authority -- priest, nun, religious, minister, deacon, teacher, doctor, therapist -- come together monthly and struggle to make sense out of a church home, a family, a helping relationship that has been wrenched violently from them by abuse -- a Church, or other environment, formerly their safest place to be, but one that now protects the perpetrators and itself instead of its victims. Legally cornered to be accountable, the former "safe place" strikes back with vengeance and vilifies -- and all in the name of the God that it teaches the world to fear.

To this day -- 10 years after the Boston abuse revelations -- the Catholic church continues to insult and ignore its victims. A recent gathering of bishops in the Vatican to discuss the sex abuse crisis, and even to listen for a few moments to the plight of one of them, did not include the bishop of Rome (also known as the pope). Nor did the bishop of Rome bother to even acknowledge the visiting survivors in his daily sermon and blessing, being dispensed to other visitors and dignitaries only a few blocks away.

In speaking of the 2002 Boston sex scandal in the Roman church in America, James Carroll spoke words that are unfortunately -- and for many victims who have not survived, quite tragically -- still valid today. Believers might use it as a primer for beginning, finally, to "think critically about what we believe."
It would be simplistic to attribute the moral paralysis that so long marked Church responses to priestly child abuse to any one characteristic of Catholic culture, be it:
  • celibacy,
  • the all-male priesthood,
  • a Jansenist suspicion of sexuality that breeds repression,
  • a male fear of females,
  • or the disparity between increasingly self-respecting homosexuals in the Catholic clergy and a Catholic moral theology that continues to preach contempt for homosexuality.
But taken together, such notes of contemporary Catholic conflict are indications of the dysfunction that results when the gap between preached ideals and life as it is really lived becomes too wide -- especially if the ideals are false.

What we sanction is determined by what we believe. If it is time to stop sanctioning the abuse of innocents in our churches, perhaps it is time, too, to begin to "think critically about what we believe." For what we believe determines what we will sanction.

SNAPDFW invites all survivors of spiritual, emotional, physical and sexual abuse by anyone with rank and authority within "the helping professions" or within families or churches or anywhere else to come spend a few moments with others who can relate. You are welcome here, regardless of your religion or background. Abuse occurs in all religious traditions -- from the most orthodox to the most contemporary. Here you will be welcomed. You will not be judged. And you will not be abused.

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Belgian authorities raid bishops' offices investigating possible 'high-level' clergy involvement in abuse coverup 
Earlier today, Monday Jan 16, Belgian authorities raided three bishops' administrative offices nearing the end of a two-year investigation into whether church officials protected child abusers at the expense of their victims.

A Belgian Catholic Church spokesman said the offices in Hasselt, Mechelen and Antwerp cooperated during the raids and handed over files.

AP reports that a judicial official close to the investigation, who asked not to be identified, said today's surprise raids were based on some 200 witness accounts and 87 civil claims and sought to reveal if high-level clergy were involved in keeping abuse covered up.
Read more in the Fort Wort Star-Telegram here: Belgian authorities raid 3 bishops' offices

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Philly archdiocese member of Child and Youth Committee and Penn State alumnus speaks out on institutional coverup of abuse 
Grand jury investigations into the recent child sex abuse scandals that have rocked Penn State and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have placed the issue of child sex abuse onto the front burner here in Pennsylvania — where it belongs.

I serve on the Child and Youth Committee and have listened to and read many hours of excruciatingly painful testimony from victims and their families describing the most heinous sexual abuse imaginable. The institutional cover-ups and subsequent ill-treatment of victims have made these terrible situations even worse. It’s a sad day, indeed, when concern for institutional risk management trumps uncovering the truth.
It’s not going to be easy. But, it is up to me and to all elected state officials, regardless of their affiliations, to act with integrity, strength, and righteousness — right now.

It’s time to open the window.

  1. First, we in state government must encourage — not suppress — the public conversation about the sexual abuse of children.
  2. Second, state legislators must act to expand the current statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

I recently listened to testimony concerning two perpetrators who were Franciscan Friars and who taught at Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia when I was on the faculty there. As a life-long Catholic, a former parochial school teacher, and a religious education instructor, I am filled with anguish over these incidents.

I am also a proud Penn State alumnus and I still teach at the PSU Abington campus. I believe that Penn State is a jewel in the crown of our great commonwealth. Thus, everything I’ve learned about the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the devastation it has wrought pains me to the core...
Read full article: Child sex abuse: When concern for institutional risk trumps the truth ...

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Vatican and pope ignore global protection of 'Rights of the Child' request for 14th consecutive year  
It was reported on this website one year ago that the Vatican had instantly (within a few weeks) responded with "transparency" demanded by the international banking community when 30 million dollars in Vatican bank assets were seized in a money laundering investigation; but that the same Vatican had ignored, for the 13th year in a row, a request from the UN Convention on Rights of the Child for some simple honesty in Roman Catholic handling of child abuse.

One more year has elapsed. And the Vatican, so quick to become "transparent" in order to get its assets back, still ignores a request to be transparent about its handling of child abuse -- and this time, for the 14th consecutive year.

Today, Kristine Ward of our sister organization the National Survivors Advocacy Coalition (NSAC) has written an editorial on this unconscionable papal negligence titled Yet Another Deadline Passes, Still No Report. Read that editorial below, then read the related links to articles on this website.

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Dallas sports news anchor Dale Hansen comments on sexual abuse scandals from personal experience 
"Sexual abuse of our children is the cancer that lives and walks among us, but a cancer survivor wears their ribbon proudly and we all stand to cheer as they walk by in their annual parade.

But who stands to cheer for the victim of a sexual assault?"

-- Dale Hansen, WFAA Dallas

It has been more than a month now since the sex scandal at Penn State stunned the Happy Valley and changed the lives of so many forever.

Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has said he's innocent of the charges he faces for sexually abusing so many young kids, but he stood silently by while the Penn State president, the athletic director and the legendary coach Joe Paterno lost their jobs in disgrace.

Is that really the action of an innocent man?

But then, they stood silently by while being told that Sandusky was abusing the children he says he was trying to help.

Nobody's innocent here, and those kids have lost their innocence forever because nobody talks about the abuse of a child.

The victim of a sexual crime is the only victim we don't talk about, and maybe it's time we do.
Read the full article, and watch the video on the WFAA website ...

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Tyler Perry's open letter of support to the 11-year-old who has accused Penn State's Sandusky of child abuse 
In an open letter published on Newsweek’s website, filmmaker Tyler Perry addresses an 11-year-old boy involved in the Penn State sexual abuse scandal.

Perry’s letter begins by saying: “I don’t know your name, but I know your face. I don’t know your journey, but I know where you are. I am your brother!”

Perry goes on to reveal personal details of his own sexual abuse as a child, and how his voice went unheard when he reached out for help to friends and family.
Perry writes, “The strength that it must have taken for your 11-year-old voice to speak out about such a horrible act is something that I didn’t have the strength or courage to do at your age.” The star calls the boy “my hero.”

The 40 current counts of sexual abuse against former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky listed in the grand jury indictment involved boys over a 15-year period who are adults now. Sandusky has maintained his innocence.

Read 'Tyler Perry Writes Open Letter to Alleged Penn State Victim' on the ABC News website ...
Read 'Tyler Perry's Open Letter to Penn State 11-Year-Old' ... on Newsweek's Daily Beast website ...

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Pope quickly accepts bishop's resignation only days before child abuse report that may implicate diocese is to be published 
This is one to watch over the next few days.

A Catholic bishop in Ireland stepped down yesterday just six days before child sex abuse audits into two dioceses where he served are due to published.

Bishop of Derry Seamus Hegarty’s resignation on health grounds was accepted by Pope Benedict a mere two weeks after offering it. He left his post immediately.
Read the full story in the Irish Independent ...
Read 'Bishop quits over health days before abuse audits' ...

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'No one has suffered more' in sexual abuse crisis than Catholic church, claims head bishop; victim advocates disagree 
A Reuters news service article quotes the head of US Roman Catholic bishops, Timothy Dolan, as saying that the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State University 'opens a wound' within the church. "No one has suffered more," claims the Catholic leader of priests.

The victims advocacy community -- with all respect that may or may not be due -- would point out to the bishop that the victims of abuse are the ones who have been wounded, raped and sodomized by Catholic priests and attacked by bishops and their high-priced lawyers for years -- a fact dramatized by these very statements.

It is not the Catholic hierarchy that has been victimized. The bishops, like Dolan, in that "community" continue to provide and protect the criminal perpetrators of that abuse. You, Mr. Dolan, and your kind, are not the victims here.

According to victims advocate Kristine Ward of SNAPDFW's sister group, the National Survivors Advocacy Coalition (NSAC), the purpose of Dolan's comments were to opportunistically deflect attention away from his colleagues and underlings in the Roman hierarchy, which systemically perpetuates the environment of abuses, and systematically denies it and shields the guilty.

Once again, SNAPDFW asks the question we've asked so many times before:

Just how outrageous does outrageous have to get!?

Read the Reuters news article "Penn State scandal "opens wound" in Catholic Church" ...
Read Kristine Ward's NSAC Editorial "The Gall of It" ... Read More...

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SNAP National Director David Clohessy speaks about Penn State sex scandal and parallels to priest sexual abuse 

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Penn State students, fans collect donations for ChildHelp, making support of victims the focus of the sex scandal 
Some 400 Penn State students held canisters on Saturday at Beaver Stadium asking game day fans to make a donation.

They collected money for ChildHelp -- a non-profit organization which specializes in the prevention and treatment of child abuse. "A lot of alumni (are) coming by and appreciate what we're doing and they know that this is what the student body is really about," said Penn State University Junior Ian Golden.
"... this is what the student body is really all about ..." - PSU Junior Ian Golden

Golden formed a group on facebook aimed at restoring Penn State pride by uniting students for a singular cause: "Show their support for the victims, really focus all this attention back on the victims and their families," he said.

Read: PSU Students, Fans Show Support of Child Abuse Victims ...

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Penn State sex scandal parallels Catholic crisis, except PSU leaders are being held accountable, says chair of NSAC 
Kristine Ward is chairperson of SNAP's sister survivors advocacy group, the National Survivors Advocacy Coalition.

In the mid '60s, Ward was a student at her alma mater, Penn State when Joe Paterno became football coach. She sees direct parallels between the Penn State disclosures of alleged sexual abuse of children and its coverup, and the Catholic church sex abuse scandal -- with the exception that the Penn State brass, who covered up the allegations from the beginning, have gotten fired while not a single catholic bishop has even been reprimanded, much less fired.

In the meantime, no one is paying attention to the real victims in these tragedies -- the children and the innocents.

Watch the Kristine Ward interview on Ohio News Network ...

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Abuse and cover-up at Penn State are strikingly 'Catholic-like' says National Catholic Reporter 
The parallels between what happened at Penn State and what has happened for decades throughout the Catholic community in the United States and in other countries are striking.

The patterns outlined in the 40-count indictment charging Sandusky are familiar:
  • the grooming of vulnerable youth,
  • using a trusted position and stature within the community to gain access to children and to fend off suspicion,
  • descriptions of fondling and rape of children,
  • reports of abuse being minimized,and
  • a continued toleration of the abuser within a protective culture.

-- National Catholic Reporter

Read 'Abuse and cover-up: Penn State's Catholic-like scandal' in NCROnline ...

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Penn State trustees fire football coach and university president as sex scandal evokes Boston clergy crisis 
Penn State trustees fired football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier amid the growing furor over how the school handled sex abuse allegations against an assistant coach.

Boston attorney Carmen Durso, who has represented numerous clergy sex abuse victims, said the Boston and Penn State cases will likely share a lack of proper accountability for the people who allowed accused abusers to work with children years later.
"If you're a powerful person in any regard, the rules are different for you," he said. "That's why Cardinal Law just had his (80th birthday) party in Rome and that's why Joe Paterno is still a hero to people even though he let this go on."

Read 'Paterno fired over Penn St. child abuse scandal' at CBS News ...
Read 'Penn State scandal evokes Boston clergy crisis' at CBS News ...

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President of Southern Baptist seminary says Penn State scandal holds lesson for Southern Baptists  
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said Nov. 8:
"When anyone reports to us the sexual abuse of a child ... it’s not a case for the kind of investigation that we might want to launch ourselves.

“This is a case for calling in the authorities, because after all, this is not just about determining what is taking place in any event or accusation but what is the credible threat that even now if we delay, similar children might be put in similar danger.”

Read more in the Associated Baptist Press ...

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Ireland closes Vatican Embassy established in 1929 when Mussolini declared Vatican state sovereignty in Europe 
The Irish government announced late on Thursday that it has closed its embassy to the Vatican. This has revived focus on a bitter public debate on the Catholic Church’s handling of clerical child sex abuse cases and the wider question of church-state relations.

Ireland's diplomatic relations with the Vatican began in 1929, the year that the 14 square block suburb near downtown Rome was declared a nation due to a 'Concordat' between the Holy See and the government of Italy.

The Concordat of 1929 was signed by Pius XI's curial emissary, Pietro Gaspari, a Cardinal, and Italian premier Benito Mussolini. Following the signing of the Concordat, several Catholic countries sent ambassadors, including Ireland. That relationship ended on Thursday.

The Lateran Treaty, as the Concordat was officially called, is one of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 or Lateran Accords, three agreements made in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, ratified June 7, 1929, ending the "Roman Question". Italy was then under a Fascist government; the succeeding Italian governments have all upheld the treaty.

The pacts consisted of three documents:
  • A political treaty recognising the full sovereignty of the Holy See in the State of Vatican City, which was thereby established.
  • A concordat regulating the position of the Catholic Church and the Catholic religion in the Italian state.
  • A financial convention agreed on as a definitive settlement of the claims of the Holy See following the losses of its territories and property.
Read the story 'Ireland closes embassy as Holy See ties wither' in the Dublin's Financial Times ...

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New SNAP group helps Fargo, ND survivors of abuse cope 
Megan Peterson was abused by her priest in Crookston, ND for two years at the age of 14. She's one of the few who have come forward while the abuse was ongoing. Traveling the world with SNAP for the last few months, she now wants to reach out to others by starting a group in Fargo, North Dakota.

In this story, from Fargo's WDAY website, hear Megan Peterson and SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Dorris as they encourage other survivors to come forward and to begin healing together.

Read and watch the story on the WDAY websiite ...

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Quotes from the crisis on evil, power and coverup 
“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”
-- Albert Einstein

“The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”
-- Edmund Burke

“I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”
-- Cardinal Justin Regali, Philadelphia Archdiocese, shortly before a Grand Jury report resulted in his removing twenty-one priests from their ministries for sexual abuse allegations.

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First ever US Roman Catholic bishop and diocese to face criminal charges for failure to protect children from sexually abusive priests 
Bishop Robert Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese have been charged with failure to report suspected child abuse.

The charges, filed Friday  in a Jackson County, Mo., court and announced at a press conference this afternoon, represent the first time a U.S. bishop has faced criminal charge related to clergy sexual abuse, and the first time a diocese as a whole has faced such charges.
Read the full story in NCR Online:

KC bishop charged with failure to report child abuse

======== Follow links provided in a Special Edition of NSAC News today ===========

-- KC bishop charged for not bringing porn to police - KANSAS CITY (MO) - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

-- Jackson County grand jury indicts Catholic Diocese, Bishop Finn - KANSAS CITY (MO) - KCTV -[with video]

-- KC Bishop charged for not bringing porn to police - KANSAS CITY (MO) - The Associated Press

-- 'Underlying systemic issues' need to be dealt with in abuse scandal, nun says - CANADA - National Post

Also, read: Finn should be Finn ished on the Voice from the Desert website ...

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SNAP Director joins local members in protesting Episcopal School's decision to appeal $9.2 million abuse verdict against the school 
SNAP Director David Clohessy joined members of the SNAPDFW group of survivors to protest the decision of the Episcopal School of Dallas to contest a $9.2 million judgement against it in a case of sexual abuse of a student by a teacher at the school.

"“All that will do is drag these families through more pain and suffering,” said Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “[ESD] will be saying that its reputation and assets are more important than your child’s safety.”

The school, which had been found grossly negligent in dealing with the child's abuse by the teacher, called today's protest by SNAP members "disgraceful and offensive."

Dallas SNAP director Lisa Kendzior, one of the protesters, said after the press conference, "if one new person comes out of the shadows because of our effort, it will have been worth the discomfort."

Read more: Trio of SNAP Advocates Speak on ESD Campus | Preston Hollow People ... z1ZN6M59Nu

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Episcopal School of Dallas found grossly negligent in handling of teacher sexual association with underage student 
Following nine weeks of testimony, the Episcopal School of Dallas was found grossly negligent in how it handled a sexual association between a teacher and a 16-year-old student, and has been ordered to pay the girl's family at least $5 million.

Calling the decision of a jury "wrong," ESD denied culpability and vowed to appeal the verdict.
"On the stand, ESD Headmaster Father Stephen Swann ... testified that at the time of the affair, he wasn’t aware of the age of consent, or that it was always illegal for a high school teacher to have sex with a student."

-- From D Magazine Oct 2011

Nathan Campbell, the former ESD history teacher who had the alleged "relationship" with the girl, is awaiting trial on criminal charges of sexual assault of a child and improper relationship with a student.

Unfortunately for those interested in this story, if you are not a subscriber to the Dallas Morning News, you will have to read the full story on the local ABC affiliate website, or on the DMagazine website - the links are below.
Read the full story on the WFAA Dallas website ...
The ESD Sex Scandal

"When an exclusive private school discovered a teacher was sleeping with a student, administrators did their best to make the problem vanish."

-- Read this full account on the D Magazine website ...

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SNAP petitions international court to investigate the pope and top Vatican officials for possible crimes against humanity 
As the clergy sexual abuse scandal, once dismissed as an American problem by the Vatican, intensifies around the world, SNAP is petitioning the International Court in The Hague to investigate the pope and top Vatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based nonprofit legal group, requested the inquiry on behalf of the Survivors Network (SNAP), arguing that the global church has maintained a "long-standing and pervasive system of sexual violence" despite promises to swiftly oust predators.
The global church has maintained a "long-standing and pervasive system of sexual violence" despite promises to swiftly oust predators.

Thousands of people have come forward in Ireland, Germany and elsewhere with reports of abusive priests, bishops who covered up for them and Vatican officials who moved so slowly to respond that molesters often stayed on the job for decades.

Barbara Blaine, president of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by priests, said going to the court was a last resort.

"We have tried everything we could think of to get them to stop and they won't," she told The Associated Press. "If the pope wanted to, he could take dramatic action at any time that would help protect children today and in the future, and he refuses to take the action."
Read the full AP story here ...

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