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.
“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
"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
- Read about Benedict's "apology" in the NYTimes ...
- Read SNAP Director David Clohessy's response ...
- Read SNAP President Barbara Blaine's response ...
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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.
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"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
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"An ecclesiastical environment which allowed such aberrant behaviour can no longer be tolerated." -- Pat Powers, Auxiliary Bishop, Australia April 23, 2010.
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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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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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"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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"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
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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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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.
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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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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"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.
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"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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"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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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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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.
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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.
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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."
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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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