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.
A specific instance is the West African nation of Sierra Leone, where there is no electricity or piped water, and where the Roman Catholic Church twice reassigned the American pedophile priest, James Tully.
The Associated Press reports that a 40-year-old schoolteacher now charges that priest Tully abused him and others, giving palm wine to his teenage victims to make them more susceptible to his advances.
The teacher told The Associated Press that Tully abused him and other boys repeatedly during his first stint in Sierra Leone, from 1979 to 1985. After a conviction in the U.S. for giving minors alcohol and groping them, the church sent Tully back to Sierra Leone for a second stint from 1994 to 1998.
Tully's story is an example of how the church transferred abusive priests from country to country, in a scandal now emerging worldwide. But it also shows the deep reluctance to come out against a Catholic priest in many parts of Africa.
Catholic Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg cautioned this month that the scandals in the church were not particular to the United States and Europe.
"It simply means that the misbehaviour of priests in Africa has not been exposed to the same glare of the media as in other parts of the world," Tlhagale said.
Read the AP Story in the Winnipeg Free Press ...
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Levada struggled, during the questioning, to recall why he had further chosen not to alert parishioners of these priests.
"But an examination of his record, pieced together from interviews and a review of thousands of pages of court documents, show that he generally followed the prevailing practice of the church hierarchy, often giving accused priests the benefit of the doubt and being reluctant to remove them from ministry." -- NY Times, 06 May 2010.
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For years, Maciel had cultivated these powerful allies among the cardinals, through gifts and cash donations. This is according to reporting by Jason Berry in the National Catholic Reporter. Mr. Berry is co-author of a book about (Maciel's) order and helped break the story of the priest’s abuses.
"Chief among these allies was the former Vatican secretary of state and, by office, the most powerful man next to Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, now the dean of the College of Cardinals and an outspoken defender of Benedict."
"Until Pope Benedict confronts Sodano’s role in the cover-up of Maciel, I don’t see how he can move beyond the crisis that has engulfed his papacy,” Mr. Berry said.
Read "Abuse case ... Vatican politics" in today's NY Times ...
Read "Money paved the way for Maciel's influence in the Vatican" by Jason Berry in NPROnline ...
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"With just two or three carefully orchestrated sentences over a few days, Benedict leaves the impression that he's doing something about an intractable, decades-old crisis. ...
Keep in mind that the pope is the CEO of a global monarchy with a very troubling track record when it comes to the safety of kids." -- SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy 02 May 2010
Read the entire article by SNAP's David Clohessy in the Charleston, SC Post & Courier ...
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"A central, sad truth runs through the story that has been unraveling for the past 25 years: When the community most needed its leaders to act as pastors they chose instead to act as princes, ignoring the problem all around them while employing every means available to spare the realm." -- National Catholic Reporter
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The pope appointed a personal delegate to run the neo-conservative band of Roman priests, refusing to disband Maciel's group, well known for providing the church with more priests and money. The Legionaries of Christ, is a hugely wealthy Mexican order founded by criminal paedophile, Maciel. The group exerted major influence in the Vatican during the reign of John Paul II.
The Vatican statement was unequivocal in its tough denunciation of Maciel's personal crimes and deception, but it placed the blame almost entirely on him, making no mention of any complicity on the part of Vatican officials.
Those officials had held up Maciel as a model for the faithful and implied that most of the Legionaries' members were kept in the dark about their leader's crimes.
"In announcing the papal takeover, the Vatican excoriated Maciel for creating a 'system of power' built on silence, deceit and obedience that enabled him to lead a double life "devoid of any scruples and authentic sense of religion" and allowed him to abuse young boys unchecked.
"'By pushing away and casting doubt upon all those who questioned his behavior, and the false belief that he wasn't doing harm to the good of the Legion, he created around him a defense mechanism that made him unassailable for a long period, making it difficult to know his true life,'" the Vatican said."
Read the AP story on the scapegoating of Maciel in the Washington Post ...
Read SNAP director David Clohessy's response ...
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Bernt Eidsvig, Müller's successor, is refusing to break confidentiality, as Norway's Roman Catholic priest sex abuse scandal escalates.
Eidsvig says he won’t accept any request by authorities to see the confidential records concerning two recent cases, telling the news outlet Dagbladet he’ll shred the evidence if the Director of Public Prosecution asks. He also failed to alert police when he first heard about Müller’s crime.
Finn Wagle, former Bishop of Nidaros in Trondheim and head of the Bishops in the Norwegian Church, thinks the Catholic Church’s silence is a crime.
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In 1995 the victim's aunt reported the molestation of her 13 year old nephew by a priest under Leveda's jurisdiction in a letter sent to then archbishop of San Francisco Levada. Levada admitted that he never reported the abuse to police.
The Vatican's lawyer, citing that the pedophile priest was not caught a second time, said of Levada's handling of the report that "in this case, the old approach did work."
What did not "work," however, were the pleas of the victim's family for mercy from the church and justice from the law when the abuse was reported. Levada ignored her pleas, and left the priest in his job aa pastor of the SF Cathedral until 2002, when "police started to investigate."
"She begged Levada to "not let this man slip through the cracks ..."
The distraught aunt wrote Levada to say the priest, Milton Walsh, had molested her nephew in 1984 and complained that the priest was still pastor of St. Mary's Cathedral in 1995.
She begged Levada to "not let this man slip through the cracks," according to a copy of the Sept. 20, 1995, letter provided by the victim's attorney.
Read the entire story in the San Francisco Chronicle ...
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Pope Benedict XVI is a good man. He has served the Church long and well. It takes nothing away from his goodness to suggest that he should resign his office. Nine of his predecessors have resigned, most for the good of the Church. The clerical sex abuse crisis that now exposes a corrupt pattern and practice of a system has escaped and confused many good, brilliant people and left generations paralyzed. There is no need to point fingers."The monarchy that rules the church has outlived its service in the evangelization of peoples ..."
However, the Roman Catholic Church is in a period of Reformation as profound (and breathtaking) as any its history has ever recorded. The voluntary resignation of Pope Benedict XVI would be a gesture that would match the epic challenge that faces Catholicism today. Such leadership would break the pattern and practice that holds the church hostage to a past that no longer serves the Christian message. The monarchy that rules the church has outlived its service in the evangelization of peoples, an evangelization that Paul the apostle taught and that Pope John Paul II championed. The People of God, hierarchy included, are shackled by a secret system designed to control rather than free them. -- Richard Sipe, 4/26/2010
Explore the National Survivor Advocates Coalition Website ...
Explore the Richard Sipe Website ...
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"How do some of us stay in the Church? In grief, in sadness, with a resolve not to be shut out by those who say they are speaking in the name of the Father. We just don't believe them. The Church is not an institution; it is the people, people who are now wounded and scandalized, not only by the sexual crimes of priests, but more important, by the cover-up by those in power. In 1959 the election of Pope John XXIII was a surprise, a kind of miracle. It happened once. It could happen again. We wait, in stubborn hope, for the return of miracle. We want to make sure some of us are at home when it happens." -- Huffington Press commentator Mary C. Gordon
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"One in four German Catholics – more than six million faithful – is expected to leave the Church because of the recent scandals, particularly in the Catholic south of the country, a survey has claimed. The poll, in the Frankfurter Rundschau, said that in the historic Bavarian town of Bamberg some 1,400 people a month have been registering their decision to formally leave the Church – seven times the normal rate of 200. In the nearby city of Würzburg 1,233 per month are leaving, instead of the average of 407." -- The Tablet, 26 April 2010.
Read this and other news of the crisis in The Tablet today ...
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"Fr. Murphey may have stolen our bodies, but the archbishops, the cardinals and the popes stole our voices." -- Arthur Budzinski, deaf victim of Milwaukee abuse
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An article published Saturday in Forbes quotes the National Catholic Reporter as having characterized the Roman Church as suffering its "largest institutional crisis in centuries."
"The Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal has passed a media tipping point. Over the past three years it has accounted for 42% of all nightly network news coverage devoted to the pope and the church, according to data from The Tyndall Report." -- Forbes, 23 Apr 2010
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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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