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.
"Innocent children were violated"; "church leadership failed"; "bonds of trust" were "ruptured" says Boston archbishopIn spite of an apologetic self-indictment issued Saturday, Sean O'Malley, archbishop of the diocese of Boston gave a phone number to a violated parish, and urged new victims to call him up.
SNAP strongly urges any and all victim survivors of clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic church, or any other religious or secular group, to CALL THE AUTHORITIES FIRST, NOT THE CHURCH. Then call supporters and advocates for victims of abuse. They will provide you with resources for the kinds of spiritual, emotional and legal care you need.
O'Malley's apology-by-proxy, read by a subordinate to a group of about 50 parishioners in a Boston area Catholic church Saturday night, apologized for the Dec. 11 tongue-lashing from the pulpit by the priest-in-charge, Stanislaw Kempa.
The verbal abuse was hurled at three young men, now in their 30s, who are accusing the late Rev. Czeslaw "Father Chet" Szymanski of sexually abusing them in the parish when they were children.
The first order of business -- always -- in incidents of suspected abuse of children or vulnerable adults by clergy is do everything possible to have the suspects removed from access to potential other victims.
The recent history of the Roman Catholic church, including Saturday's admission of failure to respond appropriately by O'Malley, emphasizes the fact that those abused by priests should NOT call the church first for help. Call the police. Protect the innocent. That is the first order of business, not calling in more priests.
Attorney Carmen Durso, who represents the three men, first announced the abuse allegations at a press conference on Dec. 9.
Kempa tongue-lashed the young men who are making the allegations in front of his congregation during Mass two days later, blasting them during a tirade/sermon, calling them "cowards," and claiming that the accusations "were not credible."
"The clerical antagonism and apparent indifference toward victims of sexual abuse, even when faced with substantial evidence, is one of the principal reasons why it remains so difficult for victims to come forward," Durso said.
It bears repeating that SNAP strongly urges any and all victim survivors of clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic church, or any other religious or secular group, to CALL THE AUTHORITIES FIRST, NOT THE CHURCH.
Then call supporters and advocates for victims of abuse. They will provide you with resources for the kinds of spiritual, emotional and legal care you may need.
SNAP DFW can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Catholic educator who raped Haitian children and threatened prosecutors scheduled for sentencing in CT TuesdayNEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Federal prosecutors in Connecticut say a man who sexually abused children at a school in Haiti he founded also threatened to kill a prosecutor.
Authorities cited the alleged threat in court papers Thursday as they argued Douglas Perlitz of Eagle, Colo., should be sent to prison for more than 19 years when he is sentenced next week.
Perlitz ran the Project Pierre Toussaint school, and dispensed very little help that came without strings attached. He built a charity, and used it to rake in donations from well-intending and unsuspecting supporters to feed what he craved: forcible sex with some of the poorest, most downtrodden and vulnerable children in the world.
Perlitz will be sentenced Tuesday in the court of United States District Judge the Honorable Janet Bond Arternon on Tuesday.
Read the story in the Washington Post ...
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Vatican uses immunity to thwart probe of sex abuse charges; accuses Ireland of disrespect, secret communique saysIn another stunning display of the pope calling the kettle black, the Vatican, in secret communiques published Saturday in the British news outlet The Guardian, tried to stiff-arm an Irish fact-finding probe into sexual exploitation and abuse by priests and subsequent bishop cover-up, and instead accuses Ireland of failure to respect the sovereignty of the Holy See.
One of Ireland's most prominent campaigners against the Catholic Church's cover-up of child abuse, Andrew Madden, said one of the leaked documents offered more evidence that the Vatican was concerned only about protecting itself, not about admitting the truth.
'Self-interest ruled the day when their priests were raping children.' -- Andrew Madden, former altar boy raped by a Dublin priest.
"The only issue for the Vatican has been the supposed 'failure' of the Irish government to protect the Vatican from intrusive questions. Self-interest ruled the day when their priests were raping children," said Madden, a former altar boy who was molested by a Dublin priest. In 1995 Madden became the first person in Ireland to go public with a lawsuit against the church, opening the floodgates for hundreds of lawsuits.
Read the full AP story on Earthlink's International News site ...
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New 'clueless' cleric boss Dolan takes over American RC bishops; vows no changes saying, 'It's not like we're in a crisis.'"My major priority," New York's Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan said at his election last week as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, "would be to continue with all vigor I can muster what's already in place. It's not like we're in a crisis."
Timothy Dolan's job is to put the best face on the reactionary hierarchy's slow motion act of self-destruction. The surest sign of this crisis is the jovial conviction that there is no crisis. -- Catholic author James Carroll
Mincing no words in his response, Catholic journalist and author James Carroll commented on Dolan and his 'no-crisis' crack, beginning with a simple question:
"Hello? The Catholic Church not in a crisis? The moral authority of the Roman Catholic hierarchy is at its lowest ebb since the Inquisition."
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Pope ignores diseased children in ignorant new statement on contraception; still blames spread of AIDS on male prostitutesThe utter moral bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Church looms more ominously than ever today in the latest unimaginably ignorant statements of the pope on the use of condoms.
Totally ignoring an entire generation of diseased children of infected parents -- a phenomenon for which, in 3rd world countries, the dark-ages mentality of the patriarchal sexual ideology of Catholicism is directly implicated -- the German pope finally admitted that condoms contribute to inhibiting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
But he did so in a peculiarly homophobic remark suggesting that male prostitutes might act more responsibly by using condoms.
This comes from a man, it might be recalled, whose personal, attending entourage was recently alleged to have been soliciting male prostitutes. (See story from Mar 5 ...)
Just how outrageous must this destructive, dictatorial regime become before intelligent catholics stop pumping it up with power by ignoring it, or even worse, by continuing to support it?
Read the unconscionable pontifications for yourself ...
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Road to Recovery - 2 priests do what Roman Catholic bishops pay out huge legal fees to avoid: helping survivorsSNAP in DFW is a place of emotional and moral support for survivors of clergy sexual and power abuse, and for their supporters. We come together (if we may borrow a line from the 12 step recovery programs) to share our experience (often horrendous and debilitating), strength (at first, minimal to none), and hope (again, at first, non-existent, but as time goes by and help comes, improving).
However, in spite of the enormous global need now coming to light for non-church support systems for survivors of clergy sexual and power exploitation and abuse, there are, as our British friends might say, "bloody few!"
That's why we're recommending today that you visit the "Road to Recovery" website.
Road to Recovery says of itself that it is the only non-profit organization in the United States that offers compassionate counseling and referral services to survivors of clergy sexual abuse."
Road to Recovery is a non-profit, charitable organization founded in 2005 to provide "emotional, psychological, financial, and spiritual assistance to survivors as they attempt to recover from the effects of having been sexually abused by members of the clergy."
The very ironic twist to this group is the fact that it was actually founded by two priests, one, himself, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse -- two men who, single-handedly, are attempting to do what the Roman Catholic Church pays out enormous legal fees to avoid doing: helping survivors of priest rape and abuse.
Check out their site, and their group. We hope it can be of help to you.
Go to the Road to Recovery website ...
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Catholic Child Welfare Society in England diocese liable for $12.8 million in damages to abuse victims; cannot appealA Catholic diocese in northeast England has been refused the right to appeal a court ruling that found it responsible for a $12.8 million compensation claim by victims of child sexual abuse, believed to be the largest award to abuse victims in English history.
The diocese was found liable in October for the claims of 158 former pupils who were abused at St. William's Community Home, in Market Weighton, near York, between 1960 and 1992.
Although Christian Brother James Carragher, now 74, who was principal at the home for more than 20 years, began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2004 for a long list of sex crimes against students, judges ruled that his order, the De La Salle Christian Brothers, which staffed the home, had no legal responsibility, leaving the Catholic Child Welfare Society of the diocese liable for the compensation claim.
Read the full story in the National Catholic Reporter ...
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You are not alone! 200 sexually abused men speak out on national TV; full video of the Friday's Oprah Winfrey showCaution: This program is extremely and disturbingly explicit.
However, our hope is that it encourages others abused, even years ago, to tell someone who genuinely understands and cares so that the long road toward healing this horrible rape of innocence and spirit can begin. It can and will -- you are not alone!
Watch episode 1 in its entirety here
Read Comments by Survivors at the Taping of the Oprah Show
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200 Abused Men Stand Up to Be Counted on 2 Day National TV Event; Urge Anyone Ever Abused to Get HelpOn Friday, Oprah Winfrey’s show will air the first part of a two part program about men who were abused, sexually and physically, when they were children.
It’s estimated by professionals that one in six men were abused in their youth. Some die from suicides or deaths related to alcohol or drug abuse.
That's a horrendous number that continues to grow to this day, and this is unacceptable.
With the lid coming off the Catholic Church's victims, this should tell other organizations that it's time to clean their own houses, and they should open up all files of perpetrators and contact victims that are kept hidden." -- SNAP Member Survivor Kevin Dratsch
The program will address all types of abuse, from domestic to professional to clergy.
Advanced promotion for the show describes it as, "A landmark Oprah Show event that's never been done before. Two hundred men courageously stand together to say they were all molested."
Watch the program trailer
Read SNAP Member Kevin Kratsch's letter in the Appleton, WI Post-Crescent ...
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Survivors Head for Reformation Day Gathering in Rome to Say 'Enough' to Sexual Abuse by Roman Catholic Priests
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60% of Chicago parishes employed publicly accused sexual predator priests, new SNAP supported study showsA study taking 5 years to complete by SNAP and two other survivors advocate groups has shown that nearly 60% of Roman Catholic parishes in Chicago employed priests who were publicly accused of child abuse and sexual predator behavior.
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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Belgium's highest court reverses lower court's return of seized church records on pedophilia; orders reseizureIn a reversal of a lower court's order to return truckloads of files on priest sexual abuse by Roman Catholic dioceses in Belgium, Belgium's highest court has ordered the files re-seized.
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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Can Restorative Justice work when religious sexual abuse perpetrators and their protecting leaders lack remorse?Restorative Justice is a concept in law that stresses the idea of promoting dialogue between victims and accused as opposed to a strict adversarial relationship based on abstract interpretations of legal code violations. To work best it requires goodwill on all sides.
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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SNAP survivors of priest rape come to Britain for pope trip, ask action, not lip service, to protect childrenAmericans 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
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 improvementIn 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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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 verifiedThe 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.
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Sexual theology of Roman Catholic Church in deep crisis, says priest/former-editor of Irish Bishops’ magazineThe 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.
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Survivors respond to pope's refusal to accept resignations of Irish bishops implicated in sexual abuse by priests scandalAndrew 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 churchDALLAS -- 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.
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