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.
"Given the known scope of the abuse in the California dioceses, it is nearly unfathomable that, even now, the California bishops are lobbying against modest extensions of the statute of limitations and meaningful background investigations for those working closely with children on a regular basis" -- Victims advocate, attorney Marci Hamilton
Read full article: 'Catholic bishops lobby against legislation to protect children new=true'
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Robert Finn, religious superior of the Kansas City - St. Joseph diocese of the Roman church, will be compelled to face a jury of his peers to plead absolution from the criminal charges which he denies.
With the decision in the Missouri court Thursday, Finn becomes the first Roman hierarch to face criminal charges in the decades old Roman Catholic priest sexual abuse crisis.
- Judge orders Kansas City bishop to stand trial in abuse case
- Judge John Torrence's order
- KC bishop charged with failure to report child abuse
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In a case that represents a shift toward holding the Catholic Church hierarchy legally accountable for failing to warn parents or police about abusive priests, and under 5 years of county prosecutor supervision, the church that refuses women ministerial leadership roles, has accepted their court-watched leadership to avoid further prosecution, and is allowing the women to plan the protection of the diocese's innocents from abusive and pedophile priests.
The womens' plan, in its simple essence, is this.
When abuse is suspected,
1. Call the police;
2. Call an abuse hotline;
3. Call the church -- IN THAT ORDER.
"The diocese’s model for responding to abuse concerns has changed fundamentally. The initial response has been taken out of the hands of clergy" -- Carrie Cooper, leader of child protection efforts for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
We would suggest one change in the plan for our site's visitors and readers: if your own diocese is not under court insistence to comply, AND under leadership other than clergy, then the plan should be this:
- Call the police;
- Call an abuse hotline - period.
The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has, for over ten years, ignored SNAP's insistence that they do precisely that.
Now, out of one hand,
- The KC diocese lawyers attack SNAP -- with obvious approval from the USCCB;
- under criminal indictment, secular court supervision, and the leadership of women, the diocese starts protecting its children.
The result of this secular enforcement finally begins to put some parishioner donations -- and the actual protection of the innocent -- where only their priests', bishops' and pope's mouths have been in the past.
- Read the lead story in the Kansas City Star:
- Read the Associated Press story:
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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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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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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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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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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:
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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"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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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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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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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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