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 devastating verdict against the Catholic Church," an editorial in the Dallas Morning News says that the case "involved sex abuse of minors by (a man} whose horrific crimes, to a great degree, were facilitated by an institutional failure to protect vulnerable children."
The case in Philadelphia "represents the first time that a senior official of the Catholic Church was held responsible for the abuse carried out by priests under his supervision."
"... Lynn was like many church administrators in that he knew the histories of abusive priests and yet did nothing to prevent them from preying on children."
"The significance of the verdict in Philadelphia, however, does not end with Lynn’s conviction. Evidence produced in the case offers indisputable proof that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, an ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church and the head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese from 1988 to 2003, was equally guilty of endangering children. ..."
The significance of this cannot be overstated, says the News.
"While Lynn was the only church administrator on trial, the evidence on which he was convicted left no doubt that the hierarchy, beginning with Bevilacqua, was greatly to blame for what happened.
"Lynn’s conviction sent a clear message: Church administrators now know they will be held accountable for their actions. Bevilacqua himself may have been spared the ultimate judgment, but his legacy as an American prelate is forever tainted by his monumental failure."-- Editorial, Dallas Morning News 27 June 2012
Read the full editorial in the Dallas Morning News ...
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VATICAN CITY — The sexual abuse scandal has tarnished the image of the priest and contributed to a crisis of priestly vocations in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Monday (June 25), while also faulting a widespread “secularized mentality” and parents’ ambition for their children, which leaves “little space to the possibility of a call to a special vocation.”
(A lack of priest careers, the Vatican, said is a result of "a widespread secularized mentality" and parents' ambition for their children." -- The Washington Post quoting a Vatican news release Monday, 25 June 2012.
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"Lynn was a smart, able manager who at any time could have called the police, warned parishes, or threatened to blow the whistle," McKiernan said. "He was not a helpless good guy. The only helpless people in this ongoing catastrophe were the children, the many hundreds of boys and girls who were sodomized and terrorized by the men Lynn managed."
Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org.
Read the story in ABC News ...
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Lynn is the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. to be convicted of coverup and child endangerment on charges related to sexual abuse by priests. In the landmark case, prosecutors said Lynn reassigned pedophile priests in Philadelphia while covering up allegations of sexual abuse.
Lynn faces up to seven years in prison on the endangerment conviction. He was denied bail and will remain in custody while awaiting a sentencing hearing Aug. 13.
Barbara Dorris, victims outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the day’s decision “long overdue.”
“This day—and the relief, vindication and healing it gives clergy sex abuse victims—is long overdue. The guilty verdict sends a strong and clear message that shielding and enabling predator priests is a heinous crime that threatens families, communities and children, and must be punished as such,” she said in a statement released minutes after the verdict was announced.
“It is also the criminal justice system's "shot across the bow," sending a clear signal to all institutions: “Protect kids, oust predators or go to jail,” Dorris said.
Read the full story in the LA Times ...
Read the item in the National Catholic Reporter ...
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Referring to the public relations “debacle” resulting from the Vatican crackdown on American nuns, Rome’s censoring of another nun’s theological writings, the USCCB’s investigation of the Girl Scouts, and the bishops’ pact against the Obama administration, Boston high priest Sean O'Malley’s solution proposed that the US bishops hire out better PR.
"The problem is a lack of substantive reform, not a lack of professional spin-meisters. If bishops would listen more often and take more decisive action – especially in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases – they wouldn’t have to worry about public relations." -- David Clohessy, SNAP Director
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It can take many years to come to terms with abuse and to be able to talk about it, much less pursue legal action.
However, under most current law, victims of childhood sexual abuse have only a short time after they reach adulthood, or after they first realize, as an adult, that they had been abused – to seek justice from the institution where the abuse occurred.
Clearly, state statutes of limitations favor the abuser over the abused.
However, in New Jersey yesterday, it was reported that the State Judiciary Assembly voted to lift the state’s 2 year limit on the rights of victims to bring civil suits against the churches, schools and other organizations that failed to protect the children in their care.
The bill, if finally passed, would lift the time limit on lawsuits against alleged abusers as well as the institutions that employ them, and establish a two-year window for anyone to refile a suit that was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.
Chief among those who argued to continue limiting the rights of their child victims was the Roman Catholic Church, as is typically the case in disputes over statutes of limitations.
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In Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, a young girl has claimed that her spiritual adviser has been abusing her for 3 years. But instead of taking steps to protect the girl until the truth is fully revealed, her accused perpetrator has been embraced and defended as wrongly accused.
The girl has been called a slut and a troublemaker, her family threatened and spat at on the street.
The rallying around the accused perpetrator, who goes on trial this month, and the ostracizing of his accuser and her family reflects long-held beliefs in this insular community, which insists that problems should be dealt with from within and that elders have far more authority than the young.
“There are other people that claim misconduct and they can’t come out because they’re going to be re-victimized and ostracized by the community,” said a friend of the young accuser’s family who counsels troubled girls.“
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So writes David Gibson in the Wall Street Journal. Throughout the crisis of the sexual abuse of innocents by priests, as it unfolded over the last 10 years in both the US and the world,
"the bishops exempted themselves from accountability—even though records showed that feckless inaction by many bishops, or even deliberate malfeasance by some, had allowed abusers to claim so many victims." -- The Wall Street Journal, 07 June 2012.
Read the full article 'US Bishops still stonewall on sex abuse' in the Wall Street Journal of 07 June 2012
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Comment from the leader of the morally bankrupt Roman church in America, and former CEO of the Milwaukee diocese, to charges that he paid off pedophile priests in his employ to go away, is glaringly conspicuous in its absence, at least as of this posting.
In yet another case of ‘how outrageous does outrageous have to get’ Timothy Dolan, leader of the USCCB, while head priest in Milwaukee, gave pedophile priests on the diocese payroll ten grand to simply start the paperwork of getting lost and finding another job.
When the Vatican said ok to the ‘laicization’ of these men, Dolan gave them another ten grand, and extended their church-goer financed benefits as well. So says the NY Times and the Milwaukee Post.
Read the entire account of this latest moral depravity perpetrated on the faithful of Milwaukee in the links below.
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In the mid 1990's a pair of controversial state supreme court decisions fully immunized the church from any and all corporate liability for priest child molesters based on a controversial interpretation of the first amendment. It is a testament, therefore, to the courage and persistence of Todd and Troy Merryfield and their families who have doggedly pursued justice through a much more daunting path of filing their claim under the state’s fraud statutes.
Read the full story on the WTAQ News website ...
Read the statement by SNAP Midwest Director Peter Isley ...
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It isn’t until they deal with the emotional trauma of what happened to them that they then are ready to confront their abuser.
Unfortunately, our justice system is not set up to deal with this all-too-common occurrence.
Instead, there is a statute of limitations in place that only gives victims a certain amount of time to file a complaint, either civil or criminal.
If they come forward after that time period has expired, they are barred from going forward. We have seen this most prominently with accusations against priests in the Catholic Church.
This (statute of limitations) system not only does not allow victims to seek the justice they deserve, but it also protects the sexual abuser, whose identity otherwise might never become public. -- The Philadelphia Patriot-News, 20 May 2012.
In response to the Penn State coaching and the Catholic Church priest abuse scandals, an editorial in yesterday's Philadelphia Patriot-News calls for altering the state's statute of limitations on reporting sex crimes. The new state code would then favor the victims, for a change, and no longer the abusers.
The editorial calls on Pennsylvania to create a “window” or period of time when victims who are beyond the statute of limitations can come forward and file a suit against an abuser.
Other states, such as California, Delaware and most recently, Hawaii, have enacted such laws. When California opened a one-year window, 300 cases were opened.
Read the full editorial in Sunday's Philadelphia Patriot-News ...
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They cared about money, they cared about the business of the church, not the flock and not the parishioners." -- Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, Courtroom 304 Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center.
The mountain of evidence pointed to a long-standing culture in the hierarchy - and at times the ranks below - that chose secrecy over transparency and the welfare of the institution over victims.
"It was all about the good of Mother Church," Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said in arguments to the judge Thursday. "They cared about money, they cared about the business of the church, not the flock and not the parishioners."
Read the full story in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer ...
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