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.

Pope's apology to victims: The Devil made us do it, as thousands of priests gather in Rome to celebrate themselves 
Implying that a world without priests is a world without God, the pope punctuated his long-awaited "apology" to the victims of priest rape and child abuse by blaming it on 'the enemy,' catholic jargon for the devil.
“It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the ‘enemy,’” Benedict XVI said. “He would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world.” - Pope Benedict XVI

"The term "the enemy" is a traditional Catholic way of referring to the Devil." -- National Catholic Reporter

SNAP responds:
"Tonight, the Pope passed up a perfect chance to:
  • announce bold steps that actually safeguard children,
  • urge thousands of priests to call police if they see or suspect or learn of child sex crimes, and
  • acknowledge and thank the few, brave whistleblower priests like Fr. Thomas Doyle, Fr. James Scahill and others who have found the strength, courage and compassion to expose their corrupt, predatory colleagues and supervisors." -- David Clohessy, SNAP Executive Director

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Decades of Victims attend "Year of the Priest" in Rome, say lip servant pope must do more than "apologize"  
Victim of sexual abuse by a priest, Joelle Casteix , member of U.S.-based Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), holds a banner during a news conference in downtown Rome June 8, 2010. -- Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

(Reuters) - Victims of sexual abuse by priests Tuesday demanded Pope Benedict take concrete steps to discipline clerics who have molested children, saying a public apology they expect this week from the pope will not be enough.
Read the full Reuters News story ...

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SNAP director says focus of cardinal's trip to Ireland obscures real problem: a secretive, self-serving hierarchy 
"Focusing on the laity, especially regarding mass attendance and confession, more than "misses the boat." The problem has been and remains a rigid, secretive, self-serving all-male monarchy that consistently puts its own comfort and reputation above the safety and well-being of its flock." -- David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP

Read the story and SNAP news release from June 7 ...

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Clerical abuse shows Catholic church needs nothing less than total reform, says Australian Catholic bishop 
Calling the current crisis facing the Catholic Church arising out of sexual abuse "arguably the most serious challenge the Church has faced since the Reformation in the 16th century," an Australian bishop insists that a total systemic reform of Church structures is needed.
"An ecclesiastical environment which allowed such aberrant behaviour can no longer be tolerated." -- Pat Powers, Auxiliary Bishop, Australia April 23, 2010.

Read the entire article in the Australian Jesuit magazine Eureka Street ...

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Church pressure contributes to defeat of NY Child Victims Act for 5th consecutive year; SNAP director responds 
On Wednesday, all seven Republicans on the Codes Committee and two of the nine Democrats voted no on the state's proposed Child Victims Act, which would have allowed greater flexibility to victims of childhood sexual abuse in civil suits against their abusers.

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx and Westchester (was) one of the Democrats who opposed the measure, which had been vigorously opposed by Catholic officials.

The other Democrat who voted no was Senator Neil D. Breslin of Albany. Senator Shirley L. Huntley, a Democrat from Queens, voted “no recommendation.”

“I think (recent public awareness of the child abuse by Roman Catholic priests scandal) actually did increase public support, but that does not always translate into legislative remedy,” said David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Mr. Clohessy said the vote ended efforts this year in three states to pass laws suspending the statute of limitations for a limited period in sex abuse cases. Similar bills have already been defeated in Arizona and Wisconsin.

California and Delaware are the only states to have adopted such legislation, though similar laws have been proposed in about 15 states since 2002, he said.

Read the story in the NYTimes ...

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Catholic officials oppose NY Child Victims Act to prevent child abuse, expose sex abusers; Senate votes today 
Later today, the NY Senate Codes Committee is expected to vote on a bill that would help prevent child sex crimes, expose child sex abusers and help those who have already been molested get justice, healing and closure.

The proposal, called the Child Victims Act, would open a one year ‘window’ to allow those under 54 years old who were sexually assaulted as children to file civil lawsuits against both the predator and any employers/supervisors who ignored or concealed the crimes. It is fiercely opposed by some Catholic and Orthodox Jewish officials.

Read the SNAP statement on the national website ...

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Innocent nun excommunicated as bishops continue to deny cover up of child abuse by priests 
As Roman priests worldwide scramble to evade prosecution for rape and the abuse of innocent children, and the Vatican's well-paid American lawyer prepares the pope's defense against charges of global complicity in these horrible crimes against humanity, an innocent catholic sister is rejected by the Catholic hierarchy for allowing an abortion to save a mother's life.
"The official church position would mandate that the correct solution would be to let both the mother and the child die." -- Lisa Sowle Cahill, Catholic theologian, Boston College, NPR, All Things Considered, May 19, 2010

Read the full story on the NPR website ...

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Why being pope means never having to say you're sorry: Time Magazine cover story Trial of Benedict XVI 
"The crisis facing the church is deeply complicated by the fact that in 1980, as Archbishop of Munich, the future Benedict XVI appears to have mismanaged the assignment of an accused pedophile priest under his charge." -- Time Magazine cover story May 2010

Read more in the current Time Magazine cover story ...:

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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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