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.
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The study, conducted jointly by Voice of the Faithful, African American Advocates for Victims of Clergy and Sexual Abuse and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), looked at assignments made between 1917 and 2009 of priests accused of abuse. The researchers spent five years combing through data for the report--and they believe the number of unreported cases of abuse could make that percentage even larger.
SNAP president Barbara Blaine told the Huffington Post Monday that while she believes nearly every Chicago-land parish has been affected, the study showed that "poor parishes and minority parishes have a disproportionately high percentage of problem priests."
Blaine said further that the Chicago Archdiocese has consistently under-reported cases of abuse, and that SNAP encourages victims of abuse to reach out to advocacy groups--not to the church.
"SNAP encourages victims of abuse to reach out to advocacy groups -- not to the church."-- SNAP president Barbara Blaine
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The raids on June 24, conducted as a Vatican ambassador was meeting with church leaders, opened the eyes of the world to the scale of the scandal within the Belgian Catholic Church, but the church and retired archbishop, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, demanded that the material seized be declared out of bounds.
Lower courts, having found that the June police raid was illegal, ordered prosecutors to return all files to the Belgian bishops and the independent commission they had created to handle sex-abuse complaints. But the top court has now said that abuse victims should have had the opportunity to present their views before the case was decided.
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The pope has spoken of "sin within the Church" but victims would like to see action, not mere lip service - action demonstrating the Church's sincerity in making things right.
An article on www.beliefnet.com suggests that building the path toward greater justice and healing guided by the parameters of Restorative Justice seems like it might be an idea worth trying.
However, the only credible comment to the article says,
Restorative Justice is a good thing. However, it necessitates a certain level or moral development in the perpetrator. He must be able to empathize with his victim. He must seek restoration because of empathy, not just because he got caught. It is not clear that today's religious leaders have a developed enough moral fiber to participate in restorative justice. ...
Frankly, I do not see any bishops of any ilk rushing to repair the survivors of clergy sex abuse. Neither do I see said bishops acting to embrace survivors as Christ.
Read more: On the BeliefNet website ...
Read more: Wikipedia article on Restorative Justice ...
Then you make the call.
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"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
Watch VOA video of SNAP survivors interviewed in Britain:
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Read the article Should the Pope face charges? in the Canadian publication McLeans ...
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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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"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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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.
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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.
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"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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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.
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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.
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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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