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.

Fact Sheet and Action Guide: Sexual Abuse of Women by Clergy 
"Sexual relations between clergy and congregation members is an abuse of power." So says the Fact Sheet and Action Guide: Sexual Abuse of Women by Clergy published by the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Moreover, the fact sheet reports that sexual abuse of female parishioners by clergy is an extremely prevalent problem.
A study by Dr. Pamela Cooper-White of The Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, estimates that more than 95% of clergy sexual abuse victims are women. ...

Most recent study, conducted by Baylor University researchers in 2008-2009, revealed that "one in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader" (source).

Get the facts, and what you can do about them on the NOW website: Fact Sheet and Action Guide ...

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For Someone Awakening to the Trauma of His or Her Past  
Dear Friends,

A fellow DFW SNAP member sent this to me today and I thought it was beautiful and worth sharing. It may touch you in some way as it touched me. I warn you, it may be a tear-jerker though.

Lisa Kendzior
For Someone Awakening to the Trauma of His or Her Past

For everything under the sun there is a time
This is the season of your awkward harvesting,
When pain takes you where you would rather not go,

Through the white curtain of yesterdays to a place
You had forgotten you knew from the inside out;
And a time when that bitter tree was planted.

That has grown always invisible beside you
And whose branches your awakened hands
Now long to disentangle from your heart.

You are coming to see how your looking often darkened
When you should have felt safe enough to fall toward love,
How deep down your eyes were always owned by something.

That faced them through a dark fester of thorns
Converting whoever came into a further figure of the wrong;
You could only see what touched you as already torn.

Now the act of seeing begins your work of mourning.
And your memory is ready to show you everything,
Having waited all these years for you to return and know.

Only you know where the casket of pain is interred.
You will have to scrape through all the layers of covering.
And according to your readiness, everything will open.

May you be blessed with a wise and compassionate guide
Who can accompany you through the fear and grief
Until your heart has wept its way to your true self.

As your tears fall over that wounded place,
May they wash away your hurt and free your heart.
May your forgiveness still the hunger of the wound.

So that for the first time you can walk away from that place,
Reunited with your banished heart, now healed and freed,
And feel the clear, free air bless your new face.

from: To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue, 2008.

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This Week in Quotes: Catholic priest, canon lawyer, survivors advocate makes poignant, personal statement 
My serious questioning started when I found myself on the inside looking out as the clergy sex abuse scandal started to unfold back in 1984 ... I saw first-hand the duplicity and institutionalized lying of the self-proclaimed “successors of the Apostles”... Thomas P. Doyle, priest, Catholic canon lawyer, and Survivors Advocate - 20 May 2010

Read Tom Doyle's new and very personal faith statement on his newly revised clergy abuse bibliography ...

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This Week in Quotes: Medieval monarchy model of church allows no accountability, says catholic theologian 
"As elite members of the last feudal system in the West and one of the last absolute monarchies in the world, we shouldn't be surprised if bishops, as princes of the realm, are answerable only to their sovereign, the bishop of Rome.

"If the hierarchy's royal accruements were simply vestiges of their medieval past, they might be harmless enough. But these episcopal conceits have forged a culture of privilege, secrecy, and exemption that is now exposed as a detriment to both their teaching and pastoral roles." -- Donald Cozzens, Jesuit university professor.

Read Cozzens' entire commentary on NCROnline ...

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This Week in Quotes: Boston Globe columnist says clergy abuse directly tied to "inhuman asexuality" of priests 
"Catholic scandal has laid bare an essential pathology that is unique to the culture of clericalism, and mandatory celibacy is essential to it. Immaturity, narcissism, misogyny, incapacity for intimacy, illusions about sexual morality — such all-too-common characteristics of today’s Catholic clergy are directly tied to the inhuman asexuality that is put before them as an ideal." -- Catholic author and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll - Boston Globe, May 16, 2010

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This Week in Quotes: Boston Herald columnist says Roman hierarchy responsive to its victims only if forced 
"For the Catholic hierarchy, again, has made it abundantly clear: They won’t stand up for children anywhere until somebody makes them." -- Boston Herald Columnist Margery Eagan -- Sunday, May 16, 2010

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Pope's defense: Official documents are no proof; bishops not on Vatican payroll; motives too complicated for courts 
The Vatican is detailing its defense against the first U.S. case to reach the stage of determining whether victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself for negligence for the failure of bishops to alert police or the public about Roman Catholic priests who molested children.

Apparently grasping for legal straws, the pope's high-powered US defense lawyer is expected to detail a strategy crafted to shield the pope and his bureaucracy in Rome from prosecution for negligence in protecting victims of rape and abuse by their underlings.

According to an AP report filed yesterday, the defense, in effect, says:
  • Official secret documents do not prove coverup;
  • Vatican is not responsible for actions by US bishops, who are not paid by Rome;
  • Pope/bishop relationship is too "complicated" for courts to use in legalities designed to protect victims of the Catholic priest system.

Read the entire AP report filed earlier today ...

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Narrow culture of clericalism in the church must be eliminated, says Ireland archbishop 
Diarmuid Martin, Ireland's archbishop, seems to have reassured some abuse victims by lashing out at the clerical caste system in the Roman church in Ireland this week.

Irish Times reports that in many meetings with abuse victims and their supporters, mostly in private, Martin has earned a unique degree of trust. That may have been dented last February when, on his return from meeting the pope with the other Irish bishops in Rome, it was felt by the abused that his wings had been clipped.

But that may change after his recent remarks.
Read the entire story in the Irish Times ...

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Pope calls kettle black again, blaming Portugal's financial crisis on the country's need for "moral responsibility" 
In yet another mind-boggling display of the pope calling the kettle black, pope Ratzinger, quoting himself, blamed the people of Portugal -- who, as all papal hosts countries are required to do, are underwriting his current trip there to the tune of millions of dollars -- saying that the current fiscal woes of the small catholic country demonstrated their need for "moral responsibility."

In answering pre-screened questions from reporters, he also mentioned the church-threatening priest sexual abuse crisis, saying that the threat is due to sins "within" the church, failing yet again to admit in any way the sins "of" the church.

The comments appeared to repudiate the Vatican's initial response to the scandal, in which it blamed the media as well as pro-choice and pro-gay marriage advocates for mounting a campaign against the church and the pope in particular.

But the statements can easily be seen as merely more rhetoric, this time to say what the world seems to want to hear, rather than what the millions of catholic priesthood victims of power and sex abuse need to hear.
Read the full AP report from 11 May 2010 here ...

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Austrian cardinal attacks former Vatican No. 2; Roman hierarchy needs reform urgently: "days of coverup are over" 
Austria's Roman cardinal has said the former second-highest Vatican official blocked a probe into a sex abuse scandal that rocked the country's Catholic church 15 years ago.

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn also accused Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the retired Vatican secretary of state, of causing ''massive harm'' to victims when he dismissed claims of clerical abuse as ''petty gossip'' on Easter Sunday.

Schoenborn's recent comments to a select group of journalists were summarized by the Catholic news agency Kathpress.

Schoenborn also was quoted as saying that it was no secret the Curia was "in urgent need of reform."
Read the complete AP report in yesterday's New York Times ...

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Untold story of Roman Catholic hierarchy reassigning known pedophile priests to 3rd world, poverty striken nations 
There is a huge story, yet to be told, of the Roman Catholic Church's track record for reassigning known priest rapists and sexually abusive clerics to 3rd world, Catholic dominated nations, where victims have minimal to no resources for defending themselves.

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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New sex abuse charges force pope to finally boot German bishop who admitted to assault of children last month 
A German bishop, who admitted assaulting children, and who offered to resign last month, was finally taken off line by the pope when new charges against him of sexually abusing children emerged.
Read the story in today's Washington Post ...

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Vatican top cop on abuse admitted failing to notify police, parishioners; follows party line 
Vatican chief inquisitor, William Levada admitted to authorities in 2006 that he had failed to notify police of allegations of abuse by priests in his charge. But records reported today in the New York Times show he followed Vatican policy to protect suspected priest abusers, and to obfuscate, delay and generally ignore the welfare of both victims and their communities alike. Instead, the former archbishop of San Francisco, before taking Ratzinger's old Vatican job, allowed suspected pedophile priests to continue.

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.
Read "Cardinal has Mixed Record on Abuse Cases" in today's NYTimes ...

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Vatican's chief of cardinals one of Maciel's "powerful protectors in the Roman Curia," says NY Times and NCR 
According to an article in today's NY Times, Vatican scapegoat, and priest-rapist Marcial Maciel had powerful protectors in the Roman Curia.

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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Pope opts for a few "carefully orchestrated" words over safety of children, says SNAP's Clohessy 
"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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NCR Editorial spotlights abuse of power, ignoring of victims by Roman hierarchy 
In an editorial published Friday, the National Catholic Reporter calls attention to "ongoing problem that, at its core, has to do with power and authority and how it is used in the church."
"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
Read the full editorial in NCROnline ...

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Vatican verbally assaults, scapegoats one of its own in words that ring of self-indictment; SNAP responds 
A seemingly indignant pope vitiated the former czar of the Legionaries of Christ, priest Marcial Maciel, using words that could be applied to the Vatican itself.

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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Norwegian bishop and child abuser sent to Rome, is "sheltered by nuns;" superior threatens to shred evidence 
A Norwegian bishop, Georg Müller, who resigned last summer after confessing to having sexually molested an underage boy, has been transferred to Rome where Norwegian news outlet The Foreigner reports that he "is being sheltered by nuns."

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.
Read the story in English in the Norwegian news ...

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Vatican chief inquisitor ignored pleas from victim's family of child abuse while archbishop of San Francisco 
The Vatican's high-powered American lawyer says Vatican Inquisitor/boss William Levada handled a case of child molestation "properly by the era's norms."

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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Papal monarchy has outlived its service to evangelization, say advocates of sexual abuse survivors 
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.[1] 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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Florida legislature passes bill to eliminate statute of limitations 
The Florida legislature has sent a bill for the governor's signature that would lift statutes of limitations for pursuing criminal or civil sexual abuse cases in which victims are younger than 16 at the time of the abuse.
Read the AP story in the Miami Herald ...
Read SNAP response ...

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