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.
The Huffington Post reports today that in an Easter Sunday interview with Ian Masters on KPFK Los Angeles earlier today, Catholic author and former Paulist priest James Carroll (Practicing Catholic; Constantine's Sword; Toward A New Catholic Church) calls for all Catholics begin acting as if the reforms of Vatican II are reality.
Carroll calls on Catholics to break ranks with what he calls a "corrupt, pope-centered clerical system" at the root of the clergy sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.
Hear the entire 3 part, half-hour interview at the Website of The Huffington Post.
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Holy Thursday, April 1, 2010
The reports that Pope Benedict had mishandled a clergy sex abuse case when he was archbishop of Munich have sharpened the focus of international attention on the Pope, the Vatican and the seemingly perpetual problem of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. This revelation coincided with what some believed might be the culmination of the furor in Ireland by the pope’s Pastoral Letter to the Irish People. Questions about the Munich case and the mixed reception of the papal letter have guaranteed that critical interest will intensify rather than recede.
First, a brief summary of what I suspect happened in Munich back in 1980. The priest in question was credibly accused of sexually molesting two minors. His bishop arranged for him to go from his home diocese, Essen, to Munich, to receive treatment. Read More...
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I’m excited to report that we have a great turnout for our Day of Rest and Relaxation this Saturday. I assure you that you will be glad you signed up.
This professionally-facilitated day has been developed to honor YOU and meet you where you are in your healing. It is not structured like an ordinary support group meeting. You can share as little or as much as you are comfortable. There are many of you who haven’t come to a support meeting. You just might find this Saturday’s event an easier introduction to SNAP DFW as there will be several brand new attendees. Moreover, I would really like to meet you.
I will be very happy to welcome you all, both survivors and those with loved ones who were abused. Let's all have a great day honoring each other and our fellow survivors everywhere.
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"Contrary to what a few in Rome are saying, we are not "ignoble," "despicable" or engaging in "petty gossip." We are men, women and children who are in deep pain, having been raped, sodomized and assaulted by Catholic clergy and often betrayed by Catholic officials. Our trauma - past and present - should never be trivialized by anyone, much less by those who profess to be caring shepherds." -- Barbara Blaine, SNAP President
Preaching to those gathered in St Peter's square during a Palm Sunday service, the pope, trivialized the global cries of the sexually abused victims of Roman Catholic priests and of the hierarchy that protects them, saying he would not allow himself "to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion".
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Former San Francisco archbishop William Levada, who now heads Ratzinger's former Vatican office once know as the Inquisition, is accused of sitting on clergy sex abuse reports by 67 deaf men and women for months until pressured by news media. The Italian case has eerie echoes of the investigation of a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys.
Read the full CBS/AP story and Clohessy's response issued earlier today.
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The BBC has raised the question of whether Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger should resign over the snowballing paedophile priest scandal in the Catholic Church.
In theory, there is nothing to stop Benedict from simply drafting a letter of resignation to hand to the College of Cardinals, the electoral body of bishops who elected him.
Under Roman Canon Law, the only conditions for the validity of such a resignation are that it be made freely and be properly published.
Ratzinger's predecessors Gregory the XII and Benedict XIII resigned the papacy. And there is speculation that during WWII, Pius XII drafted a letter of resignation should he be imprisoned by the Nazis. But the records of the wartime popes remain locked down in the Vatican to this day.
Read the article by the BBC Vatican correspondent.
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In a March 18 article in NCROnline, one which has been somewhat lost in the shuffle of media events of the last few days concerning the global Catholic sex abuse crisis, theologian Hans Küng adds his significant perspective.
"Is it not time for Pope Benedict XVI himself to acknowledge his share of responsibility, instead of whining about a campaign against his person? No other person in the Church has had to deal with so many cases of abuse crossing his desk." -- Hans Küng, March 18, 2010
Read Küng's entire statement in NCROnline.
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In a note read on Vatican radio on Saturday, Vatican spokesman/priest Federico Lombardi, said:
“The nature of the question is such as to attract the attention of the media, and the way in which the church deals with (the attention of the media) is crucial for her moral credibility.”
Victims of the church hierarchy, however, see the test of Vatican credibility in how it actually chose to respond to victims, and in that regard the pope has clearly failed.
An editorial in National Catholic Reporter yesterday says that the pope needs to come clean, once and for all.
"We now face the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history. The Holy Father needs to directly answer questions, in a credible forum, about his role -- as archbishop of Munich (1977-82), as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1982-2005), and as pope (2005-present) -- in the mismanagement of the clergy sex abuse crisis." -- Editorial, National Catholic Reporter March 27, 2010
Read the NCR editorial "Credibitlity gap: Pope needs to answer questions" in today's NCRonline.
Read the Vatican spin on its admitted crisis in "moral credibility" in today's NYTimes.
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Read both sides on today's NYTimes front page:
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Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish. -- NYTimes Mar 26, 2010
Read the entire story in today's NYTimes.
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SNAP President Barbara Blaine, SNAP Midwest director Peter Isely and 2 others were detained in Rome by police during a news conference in front of the Vatican today. Similar conferences were scheduled for several other cities for today.
"We've spent more time in the police station than Father Murphy did in his life," said Isely, Milwaukee-based midwest director of SNAP after his release.
Isley was referring to the American priest Lawrence Murphy -- whom the Vatican refused to defrock in spite of his being accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin. The Vatican has strongly defended its position on the Murphy affair, prompting the SNAP demonstration.
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According to a new New York Times story, a US pedophile priest reportedly abused between 150-200 deaf kids at a school over 24 years, often during confessions. Yet for years, a small Vatican bureaucracy headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now the Pope) fought three US bishops’ efforts to oust the predator, citing a fear of scandal.
- Read the story in today's NYTimes.
- Read SNAP responses.
- Download the entire NYTimes file on the priest from Bishop Accountability Website.
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SNAP Outreach director Barbara Dorris issued a statement for the survivors' advocacy group today commenting on the resignation of Irish bishop John Magee accused of covering up sexual abuse by priests.
"We hope that Magee's resignation will provide some relief and consolation for the thousands of deeply wounded abuse victims and hundreds of thousands of betrayed parishioners in Ireland," said Dorris in a statement issued today. "By itself, however, this resignation doesn't signify any fundamental change in the corrupt church hierarchy or hurtful church practices regarding predator priests, nuns, seminarians, bishops, brothers or other employees."
We hope this move will help those in pain realize that there is hope and that their suffering is validated. At the same time, we hope this move will not in any way diminish the pressure for more substantive, long-term reforms that are needed to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded in the church. -- Barbara Dorris
Read the Vatican statement about the resignation, and Barbara Dorris' full response.
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We must keep in mind two facts. First, these numbers come from most of the same bishops who concealed and enabled clergy child sex crimes for decades. They are inherently suspect, to say the least.
Second, very few child victims are able to disclose the crimes as they happen, so there always has been and will be decades between the actual offense and the reporting of it.
"We’re saddened, but not surprised that church officials still spend twice as much on predators as victims ($11 million vs. $6.5 million) and more than four times as much on their lawyers as on victims ($28 million vs. $6.5 million)." -- David Clohessy
Given these facts, there are two options. We can either be reckless, assuming that clergy sex crimes are somehow magically being reduced, or we can be prudent, assuming that clergy sex crimes are essentially happening at the same rate, or a higher rate, than before.
Caution, not complacency, is the responsible choice.
Read Clohessy's full March 23 press release here.
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Published: March 22, 2010 - 12:58 p.m. ET -- NYTimes
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Catholic Church is being unfairly singled out for criticism of sexual abuse of children by priests and will not tolerate campaigns to discredit it, the powerful head of Italy's bishops said on Monday. ...
SNAP's David Clohessy Responds:
Catholic officials are the culprits here, not the victims. To suggest that hundreds of deeply wounded European men and women are somehow conspiring with unethical journalists hurts the very individuals the Pope says he cares about and who are acting responsibly.
Read the Vatican story and Clohessy's response.
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Barbara Blaine and Barbara Dorris of SNAP, are in Munich for the day before heading to Vienna and Berlin. They placed several dozen photographs of children abused by priests at the front gate of the office of Archbishop Reinhard Marx, who heads the archdiocese of Munich and Freising.
“No institution can effectively police or reform itself, especially not an ancient, rigid, secretive, all-male monarchy like the Catholic hierarchy with its deeply-rooted and long-standing practice of concealing clergy sex crimes,” said Blaine, SNAP’s founder and president, in a press release yesterday.
“So it’s crucial that secular authorities promptly begin thorough investigations into the church’s on-going scandal, so that the truth can be revealed, the wrong-doers disciplined, the victims healed and the vulnerable protected.”
Read the full story in NCR Today.
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Two US women who head the world’s largest & most highly visible support group for clergy sex abuse victims are going to Europe today to offer help to adults who were sexually assaulted by Catholic priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers and bishops.
Two US men who were molested as kids by priests are leaving for Europe soon.
All four are leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org). The women are flying to Munich Germany today to start a chapter of their self-help organization in that country and hold a news conference Monday at 2:00 p.m. They will also visit at least two or three countries on the continent.
Read the entire press release on the SNAP National Website.
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“Simply writing the words ‘criminal activity’ does not mean and should not be confused with the Pope taking responsibility for the cover-up of crimes. “ the coalition said.
In making its comments, NSAC acknowledged the “noble courage” of the survivors that have come forward in Ireland and throughout the world and extended to them its solidarity “most particularly on this difficult day.”
Read the entire NSAC response/press release on their Website.
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"The crisis has made it very clear that the system we have had for centuries is incapable of leading the body of Christ to be a church. All it was capable of doing was defending itself."
The article goes on to say:
"Doyle wouldn’t speculate on whether the spreading scandal would bring any substantial change, but he believes that the bishops have engaged in 'denial and blame-shifting' since the earliest days of the scandal and that now 'we’re seeing the unraveling of a Teflon cover that kept this under wraps. The cover is rapidly unraveling now and what is obvious is that there is a broad and deep layer of corruption in the institution.'"
Read the full article by Tom Roberts on the NCR Website.
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But in Ratzinger's own fatherland there were expressions of disappointment that the letter made no reference to the German sex abuse issues, which have riveted media attention since January.
“Pope says nothing about German abuse cases,” the popular Bild daily headlined on its Web site. “Pope silent on abuse in Germany,” the weekly Der Spiegel's Web site headline read.
In an entry this morning on NCR Today Thomas C. Fox, on assignment in Munich during the crisis, reports that Germans are particularly discouraged and even insulted by the lack of leadership in this crisis coming from Rome.
“I found it outrageous that none of the events in Germany got any mention in the letter,” said Brigitte Beierlein, a 63-year-old teacher. “For me the time has come to take personal responsibility and quit the church. I am going to finish my membership, even though I will leave with regrets.”
The NCR report goes on to mention the infamous "secret letter" Ratzinger sent to bishops worldwide in 2001:
"For some German Catholic church observers, the papal letter (to Ireland) offered a test of whether the Vatican can stem a widening crisis that has shaken the authority of the church and has challenged the Vatican to end a secretive culture.
"While a cardinal at the Vatican, Ratzinger wrote a 2001 letter instructing bishops worldwide to report all cases of abuse to his office and keep church investigations secret under threat of excommunication."
Read the entire report on the NCR Today news blog.
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Pope Benedict once again failed to acknowledge the systemic failures that have led to cover-ups and official silence, and once again failed to hold accountable the bishops who allowed institutional secrecy to override pastoral needs. -- VOTF Website March 22, 2010.
The US Roman Catholic group, Voice of the Faithful -- which has made many Catholic voices heard in response to the US clergy sexual abuse revelations -- is not being reticent in calling for the voice of the papacy to finally acknowledge its own, and the worldwide Roman hierarchy's role in protecting priest abusers and not victims of clerical sex abuse.
On the VOTF's website today, the group says, "(A)gainst a backdrop of growing revelations in Germany, The Netherlands and other European countries -- not to mention the roster of clergy sex-abuse revelations across the globe and stretching decades into the past -- Pope Benedict once again failed to acknowledge the systemic failures that have led to cover-ups and official silence."
VOTF is the voice of the Roman Catholic faithful, and SNAP and others are voices for the victims and survivors of this horrendous and diabolical scandal. But where is the voice of the perpetrators of cover-up, subterfuge and diversion? Where is the voice of the papacy in all this -- the voice of genuine leadership that accepts responsibility rather than pointing fingers of blame at subordinates?
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