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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.



SNAP survivors of priest rape come to Britain for pope trip, ask action, not lip service, to protect children 
Americans Therese Albrecht and SNAP president Barbara Blaine are in Britain representing fellow survivors of priest sexual abuse during the pope's current trip there. They want more openness about abuse in the Catholic Church.
"We are asking that the Pope and the Vatican establish a worldwide database with the names of all of the known and credibly-accused predator priests." -- SNAP President Barbara Blaine in Britain
Read the entire story on the Voice of America website ...

Watch VOA video of SNAP survivors interviewed in Britain:





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Human rights jurist claims immunity protecting pope from legal action in pedophile crisis needs moral improvement 
In a book set to be published in tandem with the popes visit to Britain, a leading British jurist has claimed that the diplomatic immunity model of international relations needs to be replaced by a more moral legal order, so that someday soon not even a pope will be above the law.

Read the article Should the Pope face charges? in the Canadian publication McLeans ...


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Priest sexual abuse cited by independent report to be linked to 13 suicides in Belgium 
According an Associate Press story filed today, an independent Belgian commission reported that hundreds of sex abuse victims have come forward in Belgium with harrowing accounts of molestation by Catholic clergy that reportedly led to at least 13 suicides and affected children as young as two.

Professor Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the commission, said the abuse in Belgium may have been even more rampant than the 200-page report suggests, because his panel's work was interrupted and all its files seized in a June 24 raid by Belgian judicial authorities who are conducting their own probe.
"Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist who has worked with trauma victims for 23 years, said nothing had prepared him for the stories of abuse that blighted the lives of victims. He called the report's findings "a body blow" to the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium." -- Raf Casert, Associated Press

Belgian church authorities said they would react on Monday to the report. The Vatican had no immediate comment.

Read the entire AP story on the MSNBC website ...


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Belgian Cardinal pressured victim to protect bishop with secrecy until he retired, says tapes released and verified 
The New York Times reported today that a Belgian cardinal, Godfried Danneels, pressed a sexual abuse victim to either accept a private apology or wait until a bishop accused of the victim's rape had retired before pressing charges, according to tapes recorded by the victim, and verified by the church as genuine.
"The cardinal warned the victim against trying to blackmail the church and suggested that he accept a private apology from the bishop and not drag 'his name through the mud.'

The victim responded, 'He has dragged my whole life through the mud, from 5 until 18 years old,” and asked, 'Why do you feel sorry for him and not for me?' "

The tapes, which church authorities have verified as accurate, are among the more revealing documents in the continuing scandal of sexual abuse by clerics and subsequent cover-ups by the church. And having a record of a cardinal entreating an abuse victim to keep his silence is another embarrassment for the Catholic Church, which continues to be much more protective of its abusive hierarchy than of its victims.

Read the full story in the New York Times today ...


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Irish abuse survivor 'shattered' by leadership of 'clerical culture' in abuse crisis considers option 'this is not the church for me' 
A survivor of clerical sexual abuse, well-known in Ireland, is considering quitting the Roman church following the pope's decision to keep two Dublin auxiliary archbishops implicated in the abuse scandal in office. Marie Collins has doggedly remained a Catholic in the hopes that the church will reform.

However, describing last week's revelation as the "final nail in the coffin" of her hope that the church would change as lead by the clerical culture, Collins said she has "really gone beyond the point I was at before".
"I have always said my Christianity is not in doubt. I am not disillusioned with my faith in God or Christ. But I am just at the point where I'm considering that I don't need to call myself a Catholic anymore, in a church where clerical power holds sway. My hope of reform coming from within the clerical church is gone." -- Marie Collins, Irish abuse survivor.

Read the full story in the Sunday's Irish publication the SundayTribune online ...


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Sexual theology of Roman Catholic Church in deep crisis, says priest/former-editor of Irish Bishops’ magazine 
The sexual theology of the Roman Catholic Church is in deep crisis. So says Kevin Hegarty, priest and former editor of the Irish Bishop's magazine Intercom.

The majority of Catholic couples were ignoring its teaching on contraception, while its teaching on homosexuality had, rightly he thought, attracted much criticism.

He also said the sexual scandals had dealt the church its worst blow in Ireland in living memory.
Read the entire report in today's Irish Times ...



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Survivors respond to pope's refusal to accept resignations of Irish bishops implicated in sexual abuse by priests scandal 
Andrew Madden, who was abused as an altar boy in Dublin, said he was "disappointed" by the pope's decision not to accept the auxiliary bishops' resignations. However, he said, "I am not surprised; I have long since given up hope of the Catholic Church getting its act together when it comes to child protection.

"The Catholic Church, right from the Vatican down, has refused to fully acknowledge this problem," Madden said.

Barbara Blaine, president and founder of the U.S. based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), issued a statement saying, "By rejecting the resignations of two complicit Irish bishops, the pope is rubbing more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of child sex abuse victims and millions of betrayed Catholics.
"By this move, the Pope has done irreparable damage to the already deeply damaged image of a selfish church hierarchy."-- SNAP president Barbara Blaine

"He's sending an alarming message to church employees across the globe: Even widespread documentation of the concealing of child sex crimes and the coddling of criminals won't cost you your job in the church," the statement said.

Read the article "Pope declines resignation of Dublin auxiliary bishops" including Madden's statement on the National Catholic Reporter website ...

Read the AP story and SNAP president Blaine's full statement on the SNAP national website ...


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SNAP confronts women religious leaders on behalf of those abused by nuns; 'come clean' as model for church 
DALLAS -- Standing in a 105 degree temperature outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Dallas, four members of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) held a press conference as heads of women religious communities were checking in inside the hotel lobby at the outset of the annual gathering for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

The SNAP assembly included Steve Theisen, Therese Albrecht, SNAP's National Director David Clohessy and SNAP DFW's Lisa Kendzior.

Clohessy said that the purpose for the conference was to send a message to the women religious leadership that it should do more to “come clean” about abusive nuns. He called for LCWR to develop a national abuse policy that could be a model for the bishops and for the entire world. Sadly, he said, efforts to work with LCWR have been rebuffed for the past six years.
Read the story in National Catholic Reporter online ...


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Largest organization of American Nuns to hold annual meeting in Dallas; SNAP DFW urges your presence and support 
Dear Friends,

I am writing to ask you to support a very important and rare event taking place next week in Dallas. The largest organization of American nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), is holding their annual conference next week at the Hyatt Regency on Reunion Blvd. in Dallas.
"I am suggesting that an hour or two of your time to stand with victims in this situation, may be the single most significant use of your time all year. " -- SNAPDFW facilitator Lisa Kendzior

SNAP is going to have a presence as the National Director, David Clohessy, and the gentleman who is responsible for bringing this issue to the forefrontand a survivor of sexual abuse at the hand of a nun, Steve Theisen of Iowa, are coming to Dallas.

We need survivors and supporters to stand with them on Tuesday, August 10th at 1:00 pm and Wednesday, August 11th at 11:00 am on the sidewalk outside the Hyatt Regency downtown.

The purpose is to handout leaflets urging the nuns to:

* let SNAP survivors who were molested by nuns speak to their national nuns conference in Dallas this week, and;
* launch an independent self survey to learn how widespread such sex crimes are

Unknown to many:

* the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) refused to join the Dallas Charter;
* the LCWR is a canonically approved membership organization for Catholic sisters in America; and
* are only held accountable to a far distant Vatican Office called The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

For 7 years, victims of nun sexual abuse have asked the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) for simple and inexpensive actions:

* Allow survivors to speak at National and Regional Conferences;
* Allow survivors to speak at member communities;
* Place a "To Report an Abuse" SNAP link on LCWR website;
* Ask member communities to do the same in their publications or on their website; and:
* Provide SNAP with contact numbers for communities' Victim Assistance Coordinators.

For 7 years the LCWR has refused.

The LCWR has more than 1500 members, who represent more than 90 percent of the 59,000 women religious in the United States.

Sadly, female sexual predators who are members of religious communities are capable of committing sexual abuse with terrifying exploitation but without the typical lack of suspicion.

Society's comfort level with intimate touching between women and children enables female abusers to initiate contact far easier without suspicion. The reality of a female practicing pedophilia is shocking but must not be ignored if we are to protect those that are most vulnerable.

This is going to be a big deal and I am suggesting that an hour or two of your time to stand with victims in this situation, may be the single most significant use of your time all year. I urge you to consider standing in solidarity with those who have suffered in this way. Your support would mean a great deal to them.

Lisa


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Ratzinger papacy investigates again: this time, Medjugorjan Blessed Virgin 'sightings' targeted by inquisitors 
Adding the mystics of Medjugorje to his potential heretic hit-list -- along with gay seminarians and "uppity" women in genuine ministries -- the German pope has cranked up the smoke and mirrors intended to further enshroud the sexual perversion crisis of the imploding Roman priesthood and its hierarchy, exacerbated by the pope himself and his own secretive, blame-throwing, ideologically absolutist regime.

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.
Read the story in the BBC report 'Vatican investigates Bosnia "apparition" of Virgin Mary' ...
Read the CathNewsUSA story 'Vatican announces Medjugorje investigation' ...


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Vatican 13 years delinquent in submitting legally required UN report on 'Rights of the Child' 
On 20 November 2009, the global community celebrated the 20th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the unique document that sets international standards for the care, treatment and protection of all individuals below age 18.

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

LINKS
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 ...
For more on the CRC, visit Unite for Children on the UNICEF website ...


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Convicted Mother Teresa spiritual advisor used status to prey on unsuspecting families and children; SNAP responds 
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled to keep Fr. Donald McGuire behind bars. McGuire is an unrepentant, narcissistic, serial child predator who used his status as a Jesuit and Mother Teresa’s spiritual adviser to prey on unsuspecting families and kids.
"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
Read SNAP founder and president Barbara Blaine's full statement on the SNAP national website ...


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'Rome fiddles, We Burn' - NYTimes Columnist Marueen Dowd comments on latest Vatican priest sex crime rules  
"The church still believes in its own intrinsic holiness despite all evidence to the contrary...

"The casuistic document
  • 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.
"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
Read the entire column "Rome Fiddles, We Burn" on the NYTimes website ...


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Canonist and survivors' advocate Thomas Doyle speaks out on new Roman rules for handling sex abuse by priests 
"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.]
Read Tom Doyle's entire article "The Vatican's new norms" on the NCR website ...


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Catholic news outlet calls Vatican refusal to implicate bishops in sexual crime coverup 'the elephant in the sanctuary' 
"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.

"This truly is the elephant in the sanctuary.

"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
Read the full article on the NCROnline website ...


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Mega-church elder pleads guilty to rape of church member, and to pending charge of spreading HIV ...  
[Dallas, TX] Nathaniel Tumbwe, a self-proclaimed "reverend, doctor and prince" pleaded guilty Friday to raping a church member while still an elder in the Dallas mega-church Potter's House. Tumbwe also pleaded guilty to a pending charge of transmitting HIV to another women. A third victim was prepared to testify to having also been unknowingly infected with HIV by the former churchman.
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.
Read the story in yesterdays Dallas Morning News ...
Read SNAP outreach director Barbara Dorris' statement, issued prior to the outcome of the trial ...


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Vatican reduces protection for 23.7% of potential victims of priest child rape; claims 'major contribution' 
Although the recently released rewording of Vatican status quo on the priest rape crisis extends the Vatican's 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 already flimsy Roman hierarchy protection from pornographic rape by priests.

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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Vatican tweaks statute; defines "child" as under 14; groups women priests, priest rapists; remains unaccountable 
In yet another grossly insensitive attempt to manipulate public opinion in its favor and against its own victims, the Vatican has produced a woefully inadequate rewrite of its long standing status quo in regards to the protection of child victims of priest and priesthood rape. SNAP's response is that "the church's approach needs 'massive overhaul, not mere tweaking."

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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Roman Catholic theologian says Vatican intends to equate women’s ordination with priest pedophilia 
A "magisterial" document (i.e. a divinely sanctioned, self-proclaimed "infallible" teaching by the Roman hierarchy) to be released later this summer by the Vatican is reported to include the ordination of women in the same category as sexual abuse by priests.
"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
Read Hunt's entire article published Monday on the Religion Dispatches Magazine website ...


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Roman church, Roman Polanski use similar tactics to evade justice for sexual abuse of minors, says SNAP leader 
Many in SNAP are victims of perpetrators who, even when convicted or who admit guilt, escape justice anyway by what SNAP President Barbara Blaine calls, "political clout, shrewd maneuvering or by 'running out the clock' on the statute of limitations.'

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, Ratzinger never intended acting on US abuse crisis, says former chair of SF Review Board 
"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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