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.

Church in "worst credibility crisis since the Reformation" says theologian Hans Küng in open letter to all RCC bishops 
Legendary catholic theologian Hans Küng, in an open letter to the Roman bishops of the world published Friday, strongly indicts Benedict XVI for making worse just about everything that is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church.

In Küng's open letter to the bishops of the world, he claims that the pope and his administration (the "Roman Curia") is directly responsible for engineering the global cover-up of sexual abuse and child rape perpetrated by priests.

"And now, on top of these many crises comes a scandal crying out to heaven – the revelation of the clerical abuse of thousands of children and adolescents, first in the United States, then in Ireland and now in Germany and other countries. And to make matters worse, the handling of these cases has given rise to an unprecedented leadership crisis and a collapse of trust in church leadership." -- Hans Küng

Read the full story in the Irish Times ...
Read "Shot across the papal bow" on the Voice from the Desert Website ...

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German news reports that Ratzinger's German fall guy may be ready to reverse on taking blame for reassigning predator priest 
In a report from Malta today, John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, citing German news outlet Der Speigel, reports that Gerhard Gruber, the cleric who took blame away from then Munich Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger for reassigning a predator priest, may be ready to change his story.
"In statements released both by the Munich archdiocese and by the Vatican, Gruber said that he had been responsible for personnel decisions and that Ratzinger was not informed of the details of the Hullermann case.

"Now, however, Der Spiegel is reporting that Gruber has privately told friends that he felt pressure to act as a “scapegoat.” According to the account, he was sent a fax with the details of the statement already prepared and felt pressure to sign off on it.

"Der Spiegel does not cite any sources for its account. Asked about it tonight, (Vatican spokesman) Lombardi declined comment because he had not yet seen the article."

Read John Allen's full report in today's NCROnline ...

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Cardinal claims John Paul II approved praising felon bishop for witholding rapist priest information from police 
Cardinal Dario Hoyos, retired head of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy - the office in charge of priests and bishops in the Roman Catholic Church -- has claimed that Pope John Paul II approved a letter signed by Hoyos praising a French bishop convicted of shielding a convicted pedophile-rapist priest.

Reporting from Malta today, NCROnline's John Allen writes:
"In Spain, a defiant Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, now 81 and retired, insisted that he had the approval of Pope John Paul II when he sent a letter to a French bishop in 2001 applauding him for not reporting an abuser priest to the police."

Speaking at a press conference in Spain earlier today, Hoyos said:
"After consulting the pope, I wrote a letter to the bishop, congratulating him as a model of a father who does not turn in his children," he added.

"The Holy Father authorised me to send that letter to all bishops in the world and we posted it on the Internet," he added in a reference to Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor, John Paul II who died in 2005.

Read the full story in the NCROnline today ...
Read the press conference report in the Times of India today ...

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Vatican confirms Congregation for Clergy official's letter praising bishop convicted for shielding priest rapist from justice 
An Associated Press and Reuters story published yesterday reports that four days after a bishop was convicted for shielding a priest-rapist, the bishop was praised by a high ranking Vatican official in charge of priests and bishops.

Priest Rene Bissey was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2000 for raping 11 minors in the 1990's. In 2001, the priest's bishop was convicted for shielding him. Four days later, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, then the head of the Vatican office in charge of priests, praised the convicted felon bishop for his acts. Hoyos lauded French bishop Pierre Pican of Bayaeux-Lisieux for risking prison time to defend one of the Vatican's "son-priests."
"I congratulate you for not having turned in a priest to the civil administration, and I am delighted to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and all the other bishops of the world, will have preferred prison rather than to turn in its son-priest." -- Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, 2001.

Hoyos is the Vatican official who conducted the talks that led to the January 2009 decision to readmit four excommunicated bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X to the Church. One of those re-admitted bishops was Richard Williamson, convicted yesterday, April 16, 2010 in Germany for denying the Holocaust.
"We know what will happen next: The Vatican will either ignore this incredibly revealing and disturbing letter, or try to explain it away in some bizarre way. None of the world’s 5,000 bishops will chastise the Cardinal. No Vatican official will either. When pressed about this, church managers will gently try to distance themselves from this irresponsible move and claim that abuse is now handled differently in the church." -- Barbara Dorris, National Outreach Director, Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests."
Read the Reuters News story ...
Read the AP story in the Taiwan News ...
Read the "Embarrassing letter" story in the Ethiopian Review ...

Read "Bishop sentenced for not exposing paedophile priest" in The Tablet ...
Read the outrageous story and SNAP's full response on the SNAP national Website ...

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Abused people, animals find healing in each other at Gentle Barn Foundation 
Ellie Laks, a lifelong lover of animals, founded the Gentle Barn Foundation a decade ago and has given a permanent home to over 14 species of animals that were rescued from abuse or neglect.

After rehabilitating the animals, the Gentle Barn brings them together with abused and troubled adults and teenagers for therapy.

"Abused people, animals find healing in each other" on the Voice of America Website ...

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Pope speaks up on sex abuse: since church is "under attack from the world ... it is necessary to repent"; SNAP responds  
An AP article in today's Washington Post reports that the pope, in an apparantly impromptu sermon, broke his silence on the worldwide outcry concerning sexual abuse by priests.
"But now under attack from the world, which has been telling us about our sins ... we realize that it's necessary to repent ..." -- Benedict XVI

"Factual disclosures are not 'attacks' and 'penance' protects no one," said Mark Serrano, a spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the U.S. group.

"When the Pope can't bring himself to utter the words 'pedophile priest' or 'child sex crimes' or 'cover-ups' or 'complicit bishops,' it's hard to have faith that he is able to honestly and effectively deal with this growing crisis," Serrano said in a statement.
Read the story and the SNAP Response in today's Washington Post ...

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All 32 UK Catholic bishops denounce Vatican's Bertone for statement linking paedophilia to homosexuality 
A statement from Marcus Stock, general secretary to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said there was no empirical data to conclude that paedophilia had anything to do with homosexuality. His statement bears the authority and approval of all 32 Catholic bishops in England and Wales.
His statement bears the authority and approval of all 32 Catholic bishops in England and Wales.

This strong resistance, together with that of the French Government, to Vatican second-in-command Tarcisio Bertone's attempts to blame the church's systemic pedophilia on homosexuals is oddly resonant with the protests of Gay rights campaigners and victim support groups worldwide who also denounce this latest Vatican insult.

Read "Vatican Climbdown" in today's UK Guardian ...

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AP investigation finds 30 more convicted or credibly accused priest molesters, transfered and still working for the church 
Late yesterday, a shocking new Associated Press investigation found that 30 child molesting Catholic clerics are now working in new countries for the church, often near kids, despite having been convicted or having faced credible child sex allegations in a previous country.
"A priest who admitted to abuse in Los Angeles went to the Philippines, where U.S. church officials mailed him checks and advised him not to reveal their source. A priest in Canada was convicted of sexual abuse and then moved to France, where he was convicted of abuse again in 2005. Another priest was moved back and forth between Ireland and England, despite being diagnosed as a pederast, a man who commits sodomy with boys." -- Associated Press

It is not unusual practice in the church for predators such as these to be quietly shipped from more wealthy nations to the Third World, where kids are even more vulnerable.

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"Holy" See forgives "satanic" Beatles, "degenerate" homosexual Oscar Wilde, and "dangerous" heretic Galileo; maintains icey silence on Harry Potter 
In the midst of global outrage at the true depth and breadth of the horrendous sexual abuse of children by priests, subsequent diabolical coverup by pope and bishops, and the violent verbal abuse of society and "the press" by the deeply corrupt Roman Catholic hierarchy under Joseph Ratzinger -- aka Benedict XVI -- comes a ludicrous moment, darkly comic in the face of the profoundly tragic. Jim Watkins of The Huffington Post says that this farcical timing "could well be the worst attempt ever to change the subject!"

The official Vatican news outlet, L'Osservatore Romano, has added the Beatles to the Holy See's long "forgiveness" list of notorious 'evil secularists," once condemned by the morally aloof Roman church. The absolution was given to honor the 40th anniversary of the break-up of the Fab Four.
"This Beatles-is-beautiful revelation in the face of ongoing allegations of sexual abuse by priests worldwide is sadly illustrative of the Vatican’s handling of the matter. Irrelevant. Disconnected. And once again, decades too late." -- Commentary,

Similarly, Wilde, who was once sent to prison for acts of "gross indecency" with Lord Alfred Douglas and later converted to Catholicism, and who was regarded by the Roman Church in the century since his death as a "dangerous degenerate and dissolute nonconformist" -- was just last year given Roman Catholic absolution as well. L'Osservatore published the holy office's turn-around saying that Wilde was "one of the personalities of the 19th century who most lucidly analyzed the modern world in its disturbing as well as its positive aspects."

But despite the ludicrous "forgiveness" of these notorious sinners, there is still this kind of memorial to commemorate:
"You want to talk anniversaries? Here’s one for the Catholic Church: 20 years ago, the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, N.L., was closed for good. That was 1990. The allegations of sexual and physical abuse by Christian Brothers and staff dated back to the 1950s. The official coverups started in earnest in the mid-1970s." -- Chronicle Herald

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Government of France condemns Vatican for blaming sexual abuse by priests on homosexuality 
According to AP and Reuters stories today, the French government has condemned remarks by a top Vatican official linking the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church to homosexuality.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero Wednesday said the remarks linking the abuse to homosexuality was "unacceptable." He said France is committed to the struggle against discrimination and prejudice linked to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gay rights groups also condemned the remarks by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Read the whole story on the Voice of America Website ...

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Connecticut Bishops aggessively oppose legislation to help victims of sexual abuse by priests 
Connecticut Public Broadcasting has reported that Catholic Bishops sent a letter to parishioners statewide this weekend voicing their opposition to pending legislation that would help victims of sexual abuse by priests.
"The passage of this legislation could potentially have a devastating financial effect on the Catholic dioceses of Connecticut, including parish assets and those of other Catholic service organizations," said the letter to pastors from Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport and Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich.

The bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in cases of sexual abuse.

Catholic News Service today reports that the bishops' letter was distributed in churches April 10 and 11. In it the bishops said H.B. 5473, which "also targets the Catholic Church across the state ... has potentially disastrous fallout for all of us" The measure could be voted on in the General Assembly within two weeks.

Read the story on the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Website ...
Read the CNS article in today's National Catholic Reporter ...

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Atlantic columnist calls Ratzinger letter protecting pedophile priest instead of victims "The Third Strike" 
"But it's clear that the age of the priest is of far more importance to Ratzinger than the age of the minors he raped. All the sympathy and concern is with the rapist, not the raped. This is a document about protecting the powerful even when they rape the powerless." -- The Atlantic, 10 April 2010

Read the full story in The Atlantic ...

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Former priest, and author James Carroll calls for church rescue from Vatican "fundamentalist-in-chief" Joseph Ratzinger 
"Vatican II was a step toward the democratizing of the Catholic Church, which is why Catholic fundamentalists have been seeking to undo it ever since. Fundamentalist-in-chief has been Joseph Ratzinger. ...

An example of what must happen now came from the American nuns who recently defied the Rome-obsessed bishops to support President Obama’s health reform bill. The nuns acted as if the reforms of Vatican II are real. Now priests and lay people must do the same, rescuing the Catholic Church from its fundamentalists, including the present pope." -- Former priest, and columnist for the Boston Globe, James Carroll.

Read Carroll's "Rescue Catholicism from Vatican" in the Boston Globe ...

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Boston priest calls from pulpit for pope to resign; parishioners supportive 
The Boston Globe reports today that priest James J. Scahill says the reaction to his Sunday sermon, in which he called for the pope to resign over his handling of clergy sexual abuse, has been "overwhelmingly supportive."

Read the entire story in today's Boston Globe ...

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SNAP President says "long secretive, convoluted policy" for defocking priests will change nothing by merely posting the already public document 
"History and commonsense tell us that ancient, rigid, secretive cultures change very slowly, especially when the basic structure causing and sanctioning hurtful behaviors doesn’t change at all. A dictator abuses power because he can. He can promise reform, but if he remains a dictator, it’s naïve to expect real change." SNAP President Barbara Blaine

Read the entire SNAP statement on the SNAP National Website ...

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Italian bishop says Jews are Roman church's "natural enemies" and are behind public outcry against pope 
According to a reporter for the Italian Roman Catholic website Pontifex who interviewed Italian Bishop Giacomo Babini, the bishop said during the interview that Jews “do not want the Church, they are its natural enemies”. He added: “Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are deicides [God killers].”

Babini denied he had made any anti-Semitic remarks, and was backed by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), saying: “Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me.”

However, Bruno Volpe, who interviewed Babini for Pontifex, confirmed that the bishop had made the statement, which was reported widely in the Italian press today. Pontifex threatened to release the audio tape of the interview as proof.

Read the entire article in the British publication TimesOnline ...

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Vatican's "belligerent, resentful, paranoid response" to sex abuse by priests calls for radical change, say three Catholic authors 
Three Catholic authors speak out on the urgent necessity of radically changing a Catholic Church government that has taken its moral codes and orthodoxy to hideous extremes, and with impunity.
"The Vatican must realize that the church’s belligerent, resentful and paranoid response to the global scandal is not working because it now says it will cooperate with secular justice systems and that the pope will have more meetings with victims. It is too little, too late." -- NY Times, April 11, 2010


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Vatican letter shows Ratzinger protecting the church, the pedophile and the hierarchy, while ignoring victims 
Vatican spokesperson Ciro Benedettini, said a letter published in the NYTimes, signed by Ratzinger, and which clearly shows that Ratzinger delayed the defrocking of a pedophile priest for 2-6 years, showed no attempt at a cover-up, but merely showed "the need to study the case with more attention, taking into account the good of all involved."

Here is the paragraph from the letter, translated from Latin by the Times, in which Ratzinger listed "all involved" who would benefit from his judgment. They are:
  1. "The Universal Church;"
  2. "The petitioner" (in other words, the pedophile asking for laicization); and
  3. The church hierarchy, fearing "that granting the dispensation can provoke the community of Christ's faithful."
"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." -- Joseph Ratzinger

Nowhere in the Ratzinger list, or in any other place in the letter, are the victims mentioned.

Read the letter, and follow the entire document trail in today's NYTimes.

Read the AP article reporting Vatican responses.

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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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