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.

Vatican spins Ratzinger's protection of pedophile priest as not understanding "the context in which it was written"; Times publishes "the context" 
Vatican spin specialist, Federico Lombardi, commenting on the report yesterday that documents confirm Ratzinger was directly involved in protecting a convicted pedophile priest, said it was wrong to draw conclusions based on one letter, without carefully understanding the context in which it was written.

“It’s evident that it’s not an in-depth and serious use of documents,” Lombardi said.

Judge for yourself, then, says the NYTimes:
Follow the document trail for this Vatican cover-up letter signed by Ratzinger in today's NY Times.

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Ratzinger delays defrocking of convicted pedophile priest for 2 years in signed letter; for" the good of the Universal Church" 
In a signed 1985 letter received by the NY Times, Joseph Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI, ordered delaying the defrocking of an Oakland, California priest convicted of pedophilia in 1978. The priest was finally defrocked in 1987.
"Bishop Cummins had first petitioned the doctrinal office to defrock Mr. Kiesle in 1981. He also wrote directly to Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger requested more information, which officials in the Oakland Diocese supplied in February 1982. They did not hear back from Cardinal Ratzinger until 1985, when he sent the letter in Latin suggesting that his office needed more time to evaluate the case." -- NYTimes, 09 April 2010.

According to records published today by the NYTimes, Kiesle was convicted of sexually abusing young boys between the ages of 11 and 13 in 1978. His bishop wrote the Vatican to have him defrocked -- which Kiesle himself demanded -- in 1981. Ratzinger responded in 1985, and Kiesle was defrocked in 1987.

Here are longer excerpts, followed by a link to the entire article and to SNAP's response.
"In August of 1978 he was arrested by the police and charged with having taken sexual liberties with at least six young men ranging from eleven to thirteen years of age during the period of November 1977 through May 1978. When he appeared in court, Father Kiesle pleaded "nolo contendere" (no contest) to the charges."

... "Given all the circumstances surrounding this case and Father Kiesle's irrevocable decision to leave the active ministry, it would seem to me most prudent that his petition be granted.

"Therefore, since all of these things are attested to in the Acts of the case, it is our opinion that this case should be submitted to you with the petition that Father Stephen Kiesle be relieved of all of the obligations of the priesthood."

-- John S. Cummins, Bishop of Oakland, 19 June 1981.

"This court, although it regards the arguments presented in favor of removal in this case to be of grave significance, nevertheless deems it necessary to consider the good of the Universal Church together with that of the petitioner, and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ's faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner. "

-- (signed) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, November, 1985.

Kiesle was defrocked in 1987, 2 years after Ratzinger's reaction to the case, and 9 years after Kiesle's conviction as a pedophile.

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Guardian commentator claims pope has no diplomatic immunity from prosecution for "crime against humanity"  
A British news commentator, writing in the Guardian this week, claims that the Vatican, and the pope can no longer ignore international law, which now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity. Therefore, the claim of the Vatican to be a state – and of the pope to be a head of state and hence immune from legal action – cannot stand up to scrutiny.

But the commentary goes even further, suggesting that the diplomatic immunity of the Vatican "state" itself is in question.

Former Bush administration lawyer John B Bellinger III, in 2005, had certified that Pope Benedict the XVI was immune from suit "as the head of a foreign state" when the pope and his entourage came to America. Bellinger is now notorious for his defence of Bush administration torture policies. His opinion on papal immunity is even more questionable. It hinges on the assumption that the Vatican is a state.
"But the papal states were extinguished by invasion in 1870 and the Vatican was created by fascist Italy in 1929 when Mussolini endowed this tiny enclave – 0.17 of a square mile containing 900 Catholic bureaucrats – with "sovereignty in the international field ... in conformity with its traditions and the exigencies of its mission in the world."

Read the full story in the Guardian.

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German news publication details "Failed Papacy of Benedict XVI" in part 1 of 7 
"The pope’s reluctance to take a firm stance on sexual abuse by priests is expanding into a crisis for the Catholic Church and fueling outrage over his papacy. Some Catholics are now even calling on Benedict, who has committed a series of gaffes since becoming pope in 2005, to resign." -- German Newspaper Der Speigel 06 April 2010

Read this explosive and detailed 7 segment critique
of the current papacy on the Der Speigel Germany website.

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Priest given immunity in Rome following credible accusation of abuse of a minor 
A theology teacher at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX has been sent to Rome following a "credible" accusation of sexual molestation of a minor woman.

Read the whole story in the San Antonio Express-News.

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Abuse victim who met with pope in 2008 re-examines the meaning of the meeting, calls it "a PR move" 
Pope Benedict and the Vatican have come under growing criticism as allegations of clergy sex abuse have spread across Europe. Some of the cases have raised questions about whether Pope Benedict did enough to root out pedophile priests under his watch before he became pope.

The renewed scrutiny has Bernie McDaid and another abuse victim who attended the 2008 meeting with the pope re-examining its meaning and lasting impact.

Read the full AP story from March 28 in the Ogden Standard.

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Senior British lawyers question pope's immunity to prosecution; protests grow over $22 million cost to British taxpayers of pope's upcoming trip 
Senior British lawyers are now examining whether the pope should have immunity as a head of state and whether he could be prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction for an alleged systematic cover-up of sexual abuses by priests.

Read the full story in today's Washington Post.

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Break ranks with corrupt, pope-centered clerical system, says Catholic author James Carroll 
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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The pope, the church and sexual abuse: a perspective by Catholic canon lawyer Tom Doyle 
by Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.
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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A day to honor survivors 
Dear Friends,

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.

Lisa Kendzior


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Adding insult to injury, defensive pope trivializes outcry over pedophile priests as "petty" in Palm Sunday sermon; SNAP responds 
"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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SNAP director Clohessy says Levada sat on abuse reports until pressured by media 
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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Should the pope resign? BBC raises questions about pope's resignation 
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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Ratzinger's Responsibility: Legendary theologian Hans Küng speaks out on church sex abuse crisis 
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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Pope's credibility plummets; Vatican cites papal mishandling "of the media" as cause 
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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Vatican, NYTimes exchange volleys on Ratzinger's involvement in pedophile transfer; victim concerns marginalized 
Once again, the Vatican seems oblivious to victims of Roman Catholic priest predators, opting instead to save face and insulate the pope from the controversy, as evidenced in this latest front page fencing between the Vatican spin doctors and the New York Times.

Read both sides on today's NYTimes front page:

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Internal church documents show that Ratzinger was copied on memo that transfered German pedophile priest 
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 and others detained by Rome police during news conference at Vatican 
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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US pedophile priest reportedly abused between 150-200 deaf kids, Ratzinger ignores US bishops 
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.

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Accepting bishop's resignation preventive, not punitive says SNAP Outreach director Dorris 
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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Bishops who conceal, then are forced to reveal are inherently suspect, says SNAP director 
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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