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.
An earlier story named another priest in the allegation, but it was later reported that the abusers he reported did not include the Belgian bishop.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS STORY. Check back soon for updated information.
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In a statement issued by the Vatican on Friday, Roger Vangheluwe, 73, the bishop of Bruges in Belgium since 1984, admitted to sexually abusing a young person in his "close entourage."
In the prepared statement Vangheluwe said that he abused “a young man in my close entourage ... when I was still a simple priest and for a while when I began as a bishop.”
The disclosure makes Vangheluwe the latest cleric, and the fourth bishop to quit in a spreading abuse scandal.
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The suit is significant because it is aimed at the highest reaches of the Roman Catholic Church, and involves Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a strong defender of Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the global clergy sexual abuse crisis and a man whose own record on a separate high-profile case has come under scrutiny. A letter from a victim has emerged sent directly to Sodano a year before the Vatican admitted learning of the Murphy case.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Ratzinger, Sodano, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the Holy See, identified as the state of the Vatican City. Bertone was Ratzinger's deputy at the time and is now the Vatican's secretary of state.
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Embattled German Bishop Walter Mixa submitted an offer of resignation to the Vatican on Wednesday amid allegations that he physically abused children and misappropriated Church funds. German commentators welcome the move, saying it sparks hopes of greater transparency in the Catholic Church's abuse investigation.
In a letter written to Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, German Bishop Walter Mixa tendered his resignation over allegations of physical abuse and financial misconduct within the Augsburg Diocese.
German press across the entire spectrum of political opinions responded en masse with relief. German publication Der Speigel today published quotes from several German news outlets:
The conservative daily Die Welt writes:
"Right now, Mixa is ill-suited to play the role of pastor and head of a large diocese. He has continued to refuse to give candid explanations, preferring to hide behind vague pleas for forgiveness for everything and nothing."
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes (in an updated online version):
"Finally. Finally, Walter Mixa, the bishop on the edge, is stepping down. ...(I)t is unclear how violently he ... struck children in his care and how deeply he dug into the coffers of the local orphanage foundation."
The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
"It doesn't happen every day that bishops speak about other bishops in public. It is even rarer for them to publicly criticize one another. And it is truly remarkable that two bishops have called on a third bishop (Mixa) to temporarily step down from office."
"The whole affair and his behavior is still weighing on the Church and damage the credibility of any of the bishops' statements."
The center-left Berliner Zeitung writes:
"These days, in real life, the word 'Catholic' stands for physically abusive or lustful priests. People are leaving the Church in droves. ... In real life, Mixa has been very, very slow, on the one hand, to understand that his office does not entitle him to beat children, spend donation money on art, kitsch and wine -- and, on the other, to resign."
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Read the story in today's Irish Times ...
Read the story of the resignations in the Washington Post today ...
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The National Catholic Reporter yesterday said:
SNAP, the Saint Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said April 20 that it had asked Pope Benedict “to forbid Castrillon-Hoyos from celebrating the Mass.
“When wrong-doers like Castrillon-Hoyos get rewarded by the Catholic hierarchy, church employees everywhere see that wrongdoing is sanctioned,” SNAP stated.
Washington archdiocesan spokeswoman Susan Gibbs told Catholic News Service April 20 she didn't expect Archbishop Wuerl to intercede, because "cardinals have universal faculties and the archdiocese is not a sponsor of this event."
Following the announcement that Castrillon-Hoyos had bowed out, SNAP officials said they were relieved the cardinal wouldn't be the celebrant but expressed disappointment that neither the Vatican nor the Archdiocese of Washington intervened in this matter." -- National Catholic Reporter, April 21, 2010
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Dear Archbishop Wuerl:
We urge you to forbid a controversial church official who clearly endorses law-breaking and irresponsible behavior from leading a mass in your archdiocese this weekend.
You know all of the disturbing facts about Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a former Vatican official who is coming here in just a few days:
Giving him the honor of leading this mass is problematic in two ways. First, it rewards wrong-doing, and that in turn encourages future wrong-doing. Second, it rubs salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of millions of hurting Catholics and thousands of hurting victims.
- He thanked and congratulated a French bishop, in a letter he wrote in 2001, for hiding a sexually abusive priest.
- He allegedly was authorized to send that same letter to bishops across the globe.
- He defended his 2001 letter just days ago at a conference in Spain, arguing that the French bishop couldn't tell police about a predator priest because he learned about the crimes in the confessional. The French bishop himself, however, contradicted this claim, admitting that the priest admitted his crimes in a normal conversation, which is not a privileged communication according to church rules.
- He now claims, without providing any evidence, that he wrote the letter endorsing the French bishop with the approval of the late Pope John Paul II.
- He has expressed no remorse for his letter or his deceptive comments.
- He has made similarly hurtful comments about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups in the recent past.
- It should go without saying that Castrillon-Hoyos' words and deeds are very hurtful to clergy abuse victims, Catholics, and anyone who cares about kids.
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"I congratulate you for not denouncing (a convicted, rapist priest) to the civil administration." -- Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos
According to a SNAP national press release issued earlier this morning, on April 24, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in northwest Washington, Castrillon Hoyes is scheduled lead a “Solemn Pontifical Mass” at the shrine’s high altar. The mass is considered an historic event since it will be the first of its kind since the Basilica was founded. The shrine is considered “America’s Catholic Church” and is the largest church in North America.
Castrillon Hoyos proudly claimed that his praise of the felon bishop Pierre Pican of the Bayeux-Lisieux, convicted of withholding evidence about a convicted priest rapist in his diocese, was approved by previous pope Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II in a letter the cardinal was instructed by JPII to send to all French bishops.
Later today, SNAP will conduct a news conference via teleconference protesting the high mass by Hoyos.
Read the full press release on the SNAP National Website ...;
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"Last month media reports claimed that in 1980, Pope Benedict, as Archbishop of Munich, had mishandled the case of paedophile priest Fr Peter Hullermann. The priest was moved to Munich for “therapy” in 1980 after abusing a boy. The psychiatrist dealing with his case warned he was not to be allowed work with children.
Hullermann was reassigned to parish duties in Munich within weeks of arriving there. The priest reoffended and in June 1986 he was convicted of the sexual abuse of other minors and given an 18-month suspended sentence. When this emerged last month, Gruber assumed total responsibility, thus seeming to absolve Pope Benedict."
In a press release issued today, SNAP President Barbara Blaine responded concerning the reports of the letter from Gruber that he was coerced:
"This is a very serious and troubling allegation which directly implicates top Catholic officials in very recent deceit. An independent investigation is needed to get to the bottom of this. If even now high ranking church staffers are lying to protect one another from criticism, that bodes ill for any real internal church reform." -- SNAP National President Barbara Blaine, earlier today.
Read the stories:
In the German publication Der Speigel ...
In the German publication The Local ...
In the Irish publication Irish Times ...
Read SNAP's full response ...
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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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"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."
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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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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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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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"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.
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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.
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"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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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, ChronicleHerald.ca
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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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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"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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"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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