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.
Ratzinger altered Roman canon law statute of limitations on sexual abuse to favor deposed pedophile religious order founder, says new bookVictims of the deposed founder of a Roman order of priests have published a shocking account of their rape by the order's founder, and their subsequent re-victimization by the Roman Catholic Inquisition authorities who denied them justice.
In the book’s most striking accusation, one of the authors, José Barba, who holds a doctorate from Harvard in Latin American studies, writes that in 2001 Joseph Ratzinger (today, a.k.a. Benedict XVI) and his chief canon lawyer Tarcisio Bertone (a high ranking member of the Roman Curia) modified the statute of limitations in church law regarding sex with minors retroactively in favor of the rapist priest and the order's founder Marcial Marciel, outrageously violating the human rights and legitimate interests of his victims.
- Read the Jason Berry article in the National Catholic Reporter:
'Ratzinger altered canon law to soften Maciel punishment, book argues' ...
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Internal documents show Vatican knew of deposed Legion leader's sexual abuse of seminarians for years, says ex-LegionairreThe Washington Post reports that a new book says internal Vatican documents show the Holy See knew decades ago of allegations that the Mexican founder of the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order was a drug addict and pedophile.
The documentation has been compiled in a book "La voluntad de no saber" ("The will to not know"), which is co-authored by Jose Barba, a former Legion priest who along with other priests in 1998 brought a church trial against the Legion's founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, for having sexually abused them while they were seminarians.
"The importance of this book is that it documents the irrefutable evidence and proof that the Vatican has been lying about Maciel," said Bernardo Barranco, an expert from the Religious Studies Center of Mexico and author of the prologue of the new text.
- Read: Washington Post article 'Pope Mexico trip clouded by documents that show Vatican knew of Legion founder’s abuse'
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JP Morgan pulls plug on Vatican bank account for 'concerns about a lack of transparency' in money transfersAccording to a Reuters story in the Huffington Post, JP Morgan Chase is closing the Vatican bank's account in Italy due to "concerns about a lack of transparency at the Holy See's financial institution."
The bank of the Roman Catholic Church has been trying to clean up its image after 30 million dollars of its assets were frozen at the end of 2010 in a money laundering investigation.
The pope immediately issued a "motu proprio" - in effect, an executive order -- creating an internal mechanism in an effort to satisfy the international banking community over transparency issues related to fraud and money laundering. JP Morgan's current move seems to indicate that that effort to save papal face has not been very successful.
The public image of the Holy See's bank has also been harmed by the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal, in which highly sensitive documents, including letters to the pope, were published in Italian media.
Some of the leaked documents appear to show a conflict among top Vatican officials about just how transparent the bank should be in dealings that took place before it enacted its new laws.
Once again, the Roman Church hierarchy shows its true colors, valuing its cash over the protection of children. But even in that case, the 'sacred' subterfuge and silencing speaks volumes.
- Read the Huffington Post article: Vatican Bank Account Closed At JP Morgan, Image May Be Hurt
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Dutch Catholic Church castrates child 'to get rid of homosexuality' after he reported priests for abusing him, UK Telegraph saysIn a report filed with The Telegraph yesterday, the NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.
Sources for the newspaper said that the surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse.
Sources told Dutch news that surgical removal of testicles was regarded ... as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse...
-- The Telegraph, 19 Mar 2012.
The castration was also reported to an official inquiry into abuse within the Catholic Church by a family friend who knew Mr Heithuis in the 1950s. But the report, and the evidence with it, were ignored in the final report.
Dutch officials will call for a parliamentary investigation.
- Read The Telegraph article: Dutch Roman Catholic Church 'castrated at least 10 boys' ...
- Read The Huffington Post article: Dutch Roman Catholic Church Castrated Boys As 'Treatment' For Homosexuality ...
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MO court twists 1st Amendment to shield churches from liability for pedophile clergy, says NYTimes; Supreme Court to review case FridayA NYTimes editorial yesterday says that in "an outrageous case," a Missouri appellate court dismissed a negligence case against the Archdiocese of St. Louis for failure to supervise a priest with a record of child sexual abuse.
The court threw out the complaint, saying that Missouri law does not allow it because judging the supervision of the priest would require inquiry into religious doctrine, which it contends would violate the First Amendment.
Let's repeat the core of that: the Missouri court said:
JUDGING THE SUPERVISION OF A PRIEST WOULD VIOLATE THE FIRST AMENDMENT!
The Supreme Court will have an opportunity on Friday to reverse that decision. Let's hope the high court does precisely that.
"This bizarre conclusion would grant churches a special exemption from neutral, generally applicable laws designed to protect children. The United States Supreme Court now has an opportunity to reverse this erroneous interpretation of the Constitution." -- NY Times Editorial, 14 Mar 2012
The question to be presented to the Supreme Court on Friday will be this:
Does the First Amendment shield religious organizations from accountability for negligence and negligent supervision and retention of their employees who sexually abuse children?
Read: Clerical Abusers and the First Amendment in yesterday's NYTimes ...
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SNAP is neither plaintiff nor defendant, says NY Times; yet legal authority says 'they are trying to find a way to silence SNAP'
"The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. ...
The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims ..."
-- New York Times, 12 March 2012
“If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”
-- Marci A. Hamilton, law professor,Yeshiva University; advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes
Read the article: Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group in today's NYTimes ...
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Vatican wants off new State Department list of potential money launderers; still 14 years delinquent with UN child safety reportAccording to a Reuters story of March 8, the Vatican is seeking inclusion on the European Commission's so-called "white list" of states who comply with international standards against tax fraud and money-laundering.
This reaction is to having been currently listed by the US State Department as a nation "of concern" for potential money laundering activities.
The Vatican Bank, founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII, has been in the spotlight since September 2010 when Italian investigators froze 23 million euros ($33 million) in funds in Italian banks, including the Vatican bank, after opening an investigation into possible money-laundering.
The pope was quick to react, a mere one month later, with a 'Motu Proprio' -- amounting to a papal executive order -- to make the Vatican bank's internal activities transparent under international banking standards.
As we've pointed out here in the past, no such parallel executive order for transparency has ever been forthcoming from the pope or the Vatican concerning the Roman Catholic priest sexual abuse crisis.
In fact, for 14 consecutive years, the Vatican has ignored a United Nations request to member nations for information concerning its handling of child endangerment issues.
The pope has demonstrated, in action not words, that when Vatican assets are at stake, he is willing, even anxious, to act quickly, decisively, pragmatically and emphatically. Not so, apparently, when the safety of children is at stake.
As the recent history of the Roman Catholic hierarchy shows, since, at least, 2002 -- with the emergence of world attention on the Boston priest sexual abuse scandal -- the pope's demonstrated willingness to issue executive orders for transparency in accordance with international child abuse standards seems considerably less important than his willingness to comply with international banking standards of transparency to retrieve frozen Vatican funds.
- Read the full Reuter's story: Vatican Makes Money Laundering List Of U.S. State Department ...
- Read about the Vatican's instant compliance with the banking community's demand for transparency ...
- Read: 'Vatican enacts new banking laws' in the Irish Times ...
- Read: Vatican ingnores UN request on Rights of the Child
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Lawyers for priests accused of abusing children bully survivors' advocate and SNAP leader Clohessey, deposition transcript showsIn what National Catholic Reporter calls "a six hour ordeal," soft spoken victims' advocate David Clohessy, Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was grilled with some 800 questions posed by several lawyers hired to defend priests accused of abuse and the Roman Catholic diocese that they work for.
In an email to NCR, Clohessy said the contents of the transcript, made public Friday, show “that Catholic officials want the names and emails of people who turn to SNAP for help.”
“Church officials claim they don’t want the names of victims, witnesses or whistleblowers. But they’re desperately trying to gut the law that most enables us to protect victims, witnesses or whistleblowers,” wrote Clohessy, referring to a Missouri law that protects the confidentiality of rape crisis centers. “So it’s clear they aren’t being honest.”
Read the story in the National Catholic Reporter ...
Read the full 215 page transcript of Clohessy's deposition ...
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We sanction what we believe -- A 2002 cry to 'think critically about what we believe' has yet to be realizedWe 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:
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.
- 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.
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 coverupEarlier 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 abuseGrand 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.
- First, we in state government must encourage — not suppress — the public conversation about the sexual abuse of children.
- 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...
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Vatican and pope ignore global protection of 'Rights of the Child' request for 14th consecutive yearIt 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.
- NSAC Editorial: Yet Another Deadline Passes, Still No Report
- Vatican 13 years delinquent in submitting legally required UN report on 'Rights of the Child'
- SNAP petitions international court to investigate the pope and top Vatican officials for possible crimes against humanity
- Amnesty International human rights report lists Vatican for failure to protect children
- Vatican 2010 priorities: protect assets; ignore 'Rights of the Child'
- Moral bankruptcy of Roman hierarchy read into record of United Nations Human Rights Council
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