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.
BBC News and the American Paulist Catholic news outlet CathNewsUSA report that in March, 2010 the Vatican announced that a 20-strong commission will report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Inquisition) on claims that the Virgin Mary appears on a daily basis in a town in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
It is said she speaks in Croatian, uttering the words: “I’ve come because there are many true believers here. I wish to be with you to convert and reconcile the whole world.”
The Roman Church, under the Polish and German papacies, has long debated the credibility of the sightings. So the timing of this commission must give any mature observer of world events pause.
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Like all UN member states signing the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vatican is required by international law to submit regular reports on its efforts to safeguard child rights.
But the Vatican has ignored repeated UN requests to file the report for years.
In 2009, a Vatican official announced to a UN assembly that the long-delinquent report was being "finalized as we speak."
Not so. The head of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child told the Associated Press just this month (July, 2010) that:
"... the UN required Vatican report "is now almost 13 years overdue."
"A LEGALLY BINDING INSTRUMENT"
According to the UNICEF website Unite for Children, filing the report is a legally binding, international responsibility:
""The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights too." Unite for Children, UNICEF
Read 'Vatican breaks UN treaty on children's safety; SNAP responds' on the SNAP national website ...
Download the 16 page executive summary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child from the UNICEF website ...
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"This case should remind all sex abuse victims that even the most high profile, widely-respected and cunning child molesting cleric can sometimes be prosecuted and kept away from kids if only we are brave, patient and persistent." -- SNAP founder Barbara Blaine
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"The church still believes in its own intrinsic holiness despite all evidence to the contrary...
"The casuistic document
"There is no moral awakening here. The cruelty and indecency of child abuse once more inspires tactical contrition. All the penitence of the church is grudging and reactive. Church leaders are merely as penitent as they need to be to protect the institution. " -- Maureen Dowd, NY Times Published July 16, 2010
- did not issue a zero-tolerance policy to defrock priests after they are found guilty of pedophilia;
- it did not order bishops to report every instance of abuse to the police;
- it did not set up sanctions on bishops who sweep abuse under the rectory rug;
- it did not eliminate the statute of limitations for abused children;
- it did not tell bishops to stop lobbying legislatures to prevent child-abuse laws from being toughened.
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"The main problem with the Vatican's latest attempt at damage control is that they continue to deny the fundamental issue: the nature of the clericalized monarchical structure of the institutional church and its role in the systematic dismantling of the reality of church as People of God."
"The norms list several canonical crimes that are subject to the CDF. There is a serious gap in this list: failure to properly and responsibly respond to reports of sex abuse by clerics. This would obviously nail the majority of U.S. bishops, both retired and active. This crime is just as devastating as the sex abuse itself because it obviously enables continued rape and molestation of innocent children and adults. The bishops' systemic practice of cover-up and dishonesty, which should be a crime, is also a gross insult to all lay persons and not just victims and their families."
"The cloak of secrecy hasn't been removed. (The Vatican spokesman) claims that secrecy is maintained "in order to safeguard the dignity of all the people involved." This of course, is a lame excuse for the Vatican's obsession with image."
"The eighth revision is a potential for disaster. This one gives the local bishops the power to proceed judicially against people whom they suspect of heresy, apostasy or schism. The potential for misuse of this norm and the consequent denial of due process and the right of free expression to people the bishops decide don't think like them is terrifying."
[Tom Doyle is a priest, canon lawyer, addictions therapist and long-time supporter of justice and compassion for clergy sex abuse survivors.]
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"Lacking in both the Dallas Norms governing the American church and Cardinal Levada’s announcement of changes in the church’s universal laws was any mention of the fate of bishops who, by ignoring the reported sexual abuse of children by their priests, allow them to victimize yet other children.
"The Dallas Norms effectively shifted the burden of the abuse crisis from the bishops who ignored the abuse to the priests who perpetrated it. The universal norms announced by Cardinal Levada ignore the problem entirely." -- National Catholic Reporter
"This truly is the elephant in the sanctuary.
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After the guilty plea, Tumbwe's rape victim took the witness stand to address Tumbwe in a victim impact statement, in which, in part, she said directly to her perpetrator:
"Mr. Tumbwe, not Rev. Dr. Tumbwe, not Rev. Dr. Prince Tumbwe - Nathaniel Tumbwe, how dare you think you can take advantage of a woman, especially a Christian woman?
"You caused me considerable damage and pain," she said. "Every Sunday, it's in my mind. You caused me to question the church and the faith community.
"How dare you, how dare you, how dare you ..."
The former minister-rapist will serve concurrent 15 year sentences for the charges. Upon release or parole, he will be deported by US authorities.
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According to the Roman church's own statistics, 23.7% of priest rape victims are between ages 14 and 18. SNAP suspects the number to be much higher. However, in light of that report, the Vatican's latest "major contribution" to "rigor and transparency" in dealing with its priests' criminal rape of children, actually makes this 23.7% of potential victims, i.e. the age group 14-18, to be more vulnerable to predator priests, not less.
Read 'The Politics of Statistics' from Commonweal magazine on the Bishops Accountablitly website ...
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Although the statement extends the Vatican-self-authored statute of limitations to 20 years, the Ratzinger administration has, in essence, increased the dangerous vulnerability of children between ages 14 and 18 by removing their protection from pornographic rape by priests.
According to the John Jay report of 2003, commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, 23.7% of priest rape victims are between ages 14 and 18. The Vatican's latest "major contribution" to "rigor and transparency" in dealing with its priests' criminal rape of children, renders that age group more vulnerable to predator priests, not less.
Read the two SNAP responses to Vatican "guidelines" rewording status quo ...
Read 'Vatican revises church law on sex abuse' on the NCROnline website ...
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"Mixing the two issues, even under the same legal umbrella, is a profoundly perverse proposition. Either these gentlemen are more ethically tone deaf than one can imagine, or they are sly beyond the dreams of foxes in an effort to redirect attention from the criminal behavior of clergy against children to their wrath over the ordination of women." -- Mary E. Hunt, PhD, Roman Catholic theologian, July 12, 2010
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This points out the extreme similarity between the case of admitted child rapist, Roman Polanski and the Roman church's long-standing history of evasion from the law, as seen clearly in the current global priest pedophile crisis.
"Polanski case about rape, not legal wrangling. Let's not forget that" -- Headline of article in LA Times, July 12, 2010
"This is a travesty. Our hearts go out to anyone who was hurt by Polanski and to the tens of thousands of sexual assault victims whose perpetrators escaped justice by political clout, shrewd maneuvering or by 'running out the clock' on the statute of limitations." -- SNAP President Barbara Blaine, July 12, 2010
Polanski was released yesterday from house arrest in Switzerland, where the Swiss government refuses to allow the confessed and convicted child rapist to be extradited to the US for sentencing.
The Roman church's 2000 year history of secrecy, and evasion of criminal prosecution for its crimes against children and against humanity in general, can be seen as saturated with such legalistic maneuvers in order to remain seemingly "holy,' except for its scapegoated, but still protected, priests rapists, and their protective bishops.
For a fuller insight, read the two articles linked below.
Read the commentary from yesterday's LA Times Blogs ...
Read SNAP President Barbara Blaine's response in the SNAP National Website yesterday ...
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"Levada (then archbishop of San Francisco, now Vatican chief inquisitor) reported to us on the SF Review Board that it was the opinion of the Inquisition (now the Vatican's CDF, then run by Ratzinger) that canon law should always supersede American law.
"Ratzinger and his allies in the curia were maneuvering to render all of the investigations of the Review Boards worthless before they even got started.
"Little did we then know that the hierarchy never had any intention of ever conducting independent and unvarnished investigations of sexual abuse by priests."
"One of the architects of the so-called "Dallas Charter," the Rev. Gregory Ingels, [canon lawyer and former SF chancellor for Levada] himself eventually indicted by a Marin County grand jury for the rape and sodomy of adolescents, predicted to me personally that canonical charges against him would never stand because of the prescriptions in canon law regarding statute of limitations and the majority age of males and females.
"My recollection of Levada's report of his consultations at the Inquisition was that the curia was not too pleased with the "zero tolerance" approach either adopted by American bishops at their Dallas meetings.
Face it, with Ratzinger running the show at the Inquisition, and now as pope, there was never any intention to deal forthrightly with the abuse scandal on the part of the Vatican hierarchy."
James A. Jenkins, PhD; former chair of the San Francisco (Archdiocesan) Review Board.
-- Newsletter for the National Survivors Advocacy Coalition, 08 July 2010 ...
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The Vatican and the Jeyapaul Case
from the Bishops Accountability website
In 2004, Catholic priest Jeyapaul Joseph Palanivel was accepted by the U.S. Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota for parish work. The arrangement had been proposed for Jeyapaul, as the priest is usually known, by his home diocese of Ootacamund in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India.
Jeyapaul was in Crookston for less than a year, but in that brief time, he is accused of sexually abusing two female minors, is suspected of abusing at least one other girl, and is now the subject of a police investigation and a civil suit. Jeyapaul is also accused of taking money from the Crookston diocese.
Crookston bishop Victor Balke wrote repeatedly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, urging it to take the Jeyapaul case, and even appealed to the office in person.
Yet as of April 5, 2010, over five years after he allegedly committed the crimes, Jeyapaul is a senior official in the Diocese of Ootacamund, with the schools as one of his portfolios, and the CDF has ignored the case.
The link, below, the Bishop Accountability Web page on the case provides documents that were obtained by counsel for the plaintiff in the civil suit, Jane Doe 121 v. the Diocese of Crookston.
"The documents show the Vatican allowing a priest to remain in ministry, though the CDF has long possessed strong evidence that he is credibly accused."-- Bishops Accountability website, July, 2010.
At a time when the role of the Vatican bureaucracy in abuse cases is coming under increased scrutiny, the Jeyapaul documents show the Vatican allowing a priest to remain in ministry, though the CDF has long possessed strong evidence that he is credibly accused. At a time when foreign priests are being used to patch a U.S. priest shortage, the Jeyapaul documents cast doubt on the formation of such priests, and on the system's ability to monitor and discipline them effectively.
Below is a link to the timeline of the Jeyapaul case with links to dozens of documents. The paper trail of neglect by Cardinal Levada at the CDF is contained in five documents: Bishop Balke's original 2005 request, the CDF's inadequate response, and then Balke's increasingly urgent letters, as the case worsened in his own diocese: see the letters he wrote in November 2006, December 2006, and March 2007.
Follow the document trail and read "Vatican, CDF, and Cardinal Levada's involvement from 2005 to the present in sexual abuse allegations against Father Joseph Jeyapaul" on the Bishop Acccountability website ...
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Celestine V assumed the papacy in 1294 at age 85 and resigned five months later, saying he was not up to the task.
Read the story on Earthink's International News website ...
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According to a comprehensive, in-depth article on the failures of Ratzinger's office in the sexual abuse scandal, published in yesterday's NYTimes, church documents and interviews with canon lawyers and bishops cast a 2001 secret meeting and the future pope’s track record in a new and less flattering light.
The Vatican took action only after bishops from English-speaking nations became so concerned about resistance from top church officials that the Vatican convened the secret meeting to hear their complaints.
"And the policy that resulted from that meeting, in contrast to the way it has been described by the Vatican, was not a sharp break with past practices. It was mainly a belated reaffirmation of longstanding church procedures that at least one bishop attending the meeting argued had been ignored for too long, according to church documents and interviews." -- NYTimes, 02 July 2010.
Read the entire article 'Church Office Failed to Act on Abuse Scandal' in yesterday's NYTimes ... Read SNAP's complete response to the Times article on the SNAP national website ...
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That may sound like an exaggeration, but the court's decision that the Vatican does not have legal immunity in a claim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest could have far-reaching ramifications for the church.
"But the real issue in the case has been immunity. The Vatican attempted to invoke the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) of 1976, under which foreign states cannot be sued. The supreme court refused to allow this." -- The Guardian, July 1, 2010
Britain's news outlet The Guardian reported yesterday of one lawyer calling the Supreme Court decision comparable to the fall of the Berlin wall.
Read the entire article 'Without its immunity, can the Vatican survive?' in yesterday's UK Guardian ...
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“Today’s action by the Justices is an answer to the prayers of literally thousands of survivors of sexual abuse who finally have a real shot at obtaining justice, and the truth, about the complicity of Vatican leaders in covering up the criminal acts of Catholic priests against innocent children." -- Plaintiff attorney, victim advocate Jeff Anderson
Read the full news release on the SNAP Great Plains website ...
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"Catholics have no elections, recall procedures, or impeachment processes that allow them to replace those in authority. Withholding donations is the best way for a disenfranchised laity to send, with one voice, a message to church officials in the only language they understand--MONEY!
We urge Catholics to re-direct their Peter's Pence collection donation
on June 27 to a non-church charity of their choice.
The bishops have squandered our trust. We need to send them a strong message. We urge all Catholics to Send the Bishops a Message by withholding cash, check, and credit card donations on designated 'Withholding Sundays.'" -- Send the bishops a me$$age website.
Join the movement! Stop the outrage!
Visit the 'Send the bishops a me$$age" website NOW ...
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Speaking of the church hierarchy, of which he is a high ranking member, Mahony said,
"I believed ... in our ability to treat and monitor (the pedophile priest) effectively."
The archdiocese attempted unsuccessfully to have a judge seal the document from public view.
KTLA, Los Angeles, reports today that according to church documents, the priest, Michael Baker, told Mahony in 1986 at a priests' retreat that he had molested two young boys from 1978 to 1985. Mahony did not notify police and sent Baker to a residential facility that treated priests for sexual abuse problems.
In the years that followed, Baker was assigned to nine parishes but was barred from having one-on-one contact with minors. He violated those restrictions three times, according to church personnel file summaries previously released by the archdiocese.
Baker was not removed from the priesthood until 2000, after two men filed a lawsuit alleging he sexually molested them between 1984 and 1999. He is currently serving 10 years in prison for abusing children.
Responding for SNAP to Mahony's excuse for not reporting Baker to police because the children had already left the country, Barbara Blaine, President of SNAP, said:
"This is among the most absurd excuses we've ever heard a bishop make - that he refused to call police because an admitted predator claimed the victims had left the country. The legal status of children who are molested is irrevelant and it's shameful that Mahony would claim otherwise.
If, in fact, Fr. Baker's victims had left the US, Mahony's duty to call police was even greater, since the chances that the kids themselves would contact law enforcement was virtually nil."
Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times ...
Read the story on the KTLA website ...
Read SNAP President Barbara Blaine's response ...
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"No entity can effectively police itself, least of all an ancient, rigid, secretive, all-male monarchy with a widely-documented track record with predatory employees and complicit supervisors." -- SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy
Read Clohessy's complete article in Monday CNN news ...
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Law resigned as Boston’s archbishop in 2003 following the clergy sex abuse crisis. Area Catholics said he knew of sexual misconduct and covered it up.
Law was transferred to Rome after his resignation where the last eight years he has been the archbishop emeritus of Boston and archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.
Members of National Survivor Advocates Coalition, Speak Truth To Power and People of Conscience picketed outside the Cathedral Sunday while a special mass to honor couples celebrating their gold and silver wedding anniversaries was going on.
Protesters said they wanted to remind church goers that there was something wrong about Cardinal Law being allowed to maintain his position with the Vatican.
Read more on the SNAP Great Plains website ...
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