April 13, 2005

Sex Abuse Victims Target Fugitive Priests

April 13, 2005 [Associated Press]

Church Officials Asked To Help Extradite Accused Priests

VATICAN CITY -- American victims of clergy sex abuse urged church officials Wednesday to help extradite accused priests who fled to their religious orders in Rome or to foreign countries to escape punishment.

Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said religious leaders have a moral obligation to help prosecutors in these cases, so children are not at risk.

"The place where these men should be is almost anywhere except Rome," said Blaine, speaking at a news conference in a hotel near St. Peter's Square. "This is not about punishment. This is merely about prevention."

The Dallas Morning News reported last year that some religious orders were sheltering accused priests in Rome. They include clergymen who had been criminally charged in the United States or who had admitted molesting young people years before and now face additional claims.

The newspaper also found evidence of several priests accused of abuse in one country who then moved to another, where they were working in Roman Catholic churches or ministries.

Supervisors of the accused clergy in Rome told the Dallas paper they were not trying to help the men escape punishment, but wanted to give them a place to live and work away from children.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has declined to comment on the presence in Rome this week of the Survivors Network, which claims 5,600 members and has been pressing church leaders to acknowledge the scope of abuse in their dioceses for more than a decade.

On Monday, Blaine and another victim went to St. Peter's Square to protest the decision by the cardinals to ask Cardinal Bernard Law to lead an important Mass in St. Peter's Basilica mourning Pope John Paul II.

Law resigned as archbishop of Boston in December 2002 when unsealed court records revealed he had moved predatory priests among church assignments without notifying parishioners. He has apologized for his wrongdoing. The pope last year appointed Law archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, a ceremonial but highly visible post.

Some Catholics said protests around the time of the pope's death were inappropriate - and questioned whether anyone in the Vatican was even listening. The cardinals eligible to vote in the conclave have stopped giving media interviews. The election is set to begin Monday.

Marco Politi, a papal biographer and Vatican expert, said the Italian public was generally sympathetic to victims and did not resent their presence.

"I think that these two representatives of SNAP made a very dignified appearance," Politi said. "They were speaking with very great dignity about the sorrow and pain of the victims. They underlined that they didn't want to interfere in the inner life of the church in the conclave. They didn't ask Cardinal Law not to participate in the conclave, but they stressed that he himself should have refused to celebrate the Mass."

Politi also said there were many signs that cardinals understood the depth of the abuse problem, despite accusations of Vatican indifference from some Americans.

Last month, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of John Paul's closest aides whose name is mentioned as a possible candidate for pope, denounced "filth" in the church, "even among those ... in the priesthood," during the Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum.

Vatican officials also agreed two years ago to change church law for the United States so bishops had broader power to keep accused priests out of parishes. Those changes are now under Vatican review.

Posted by Nancy at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

Sex Abuse Victims To Name Predator Priests In/Near Rome

US-Based Group Upset About Molesters Moving
They Urge Church Officials To Warn Catholics, Tourists

WHAT
At a news conference, clergy molestation victims will
- name and discuss several accused sexually abusive clerics who live and work in and around the Vatican, and
- publicly urge Catholic officials to warn parishioners and the public about these men

WHEN
Wednesday, April 13, 2:30 p.m. (Rome time)

WHERE
Inside or outside the Hotel Michaelangelo, Via della Stazione di S.Pietro (near the Vatican) in Rome

WHO
Two US women who were sexually molested by priests and are leaders of the largest American support group for sexual abuse victims - SNAP - the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (a Chicago-based self-help organization of 5,000+ members)

WHY
Two award-winning US journalists have identified and written extensively about several diocesan and religious order clerics who are from other countries but now work and/or live in and/or near the Vatican, despite facing credible allegations of sexual abuse. Some face multiple accusations and even civil litigation or criminal prosecution.

Posted by Nancy at 01:45 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2005

Sex Abuse Victims To Leaflet Outside Mass in Rome

April 10, 2005 [SNAP Press Release]

MEDIA ADVISORY ABOUT SNAP ACTIVITIES IN ROME

Sex Abuse Victims To Leaflet Outside Mass in Rome

US-Based Group Upset About Cardinal Law's Prominent Role

They Urge Cardinals To Speak Up For Victims

More SNAP Members Will Head To Vatican Later This Week

WHAT:

At a sidewalk news conference, clergy molestation victims will hold a news conference and

-- publicly urge Catholic Cardinals to insist that Cardinal Bernard Law be replaced in all services for the Pope,

-- speak out against the Vatican's hurtful decision to give Law high profile honors during a time when wounded Catholics are trying to focus on the Pope's life and death, and

-- urge anyone who was sexually assaulted by clergy to come forward and get help.


The victims are upset that church leaders stand silently by while Vatican officials rub salt into the wounds of already suffering victims and their families by giving Law such honors.


WHEN:

TODAY, Monday, April 11, 3:00 p.m. (Rome time)

WHERE:

Just outside the entrance to St. Peter's Square in Rome


WHO:

Two US women who were sexually molested by priests and are leaders of the largest American support group for sexual abuse victims - SNAP - the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a Chicago-based self-help organization of 5,000+ members


WHY:

Vatican officials have chosen, and Cardinals have apparently approved, ousted U.S. Cardinal Bernard Law to lead a special mass this evening, Monday, April 11th, in Rome to mourn the Pope's death. Law resigned as Boston's Cardinal in 2002 and was sent to Rome to live after being exposed for covering up thousands of sex crimes by his clergy in Boston.

SNAP members are upset that church officials essentially ratified Law's actions by allowing him this position of honor and prominence. Law publicly rubs salt into the wounds of thousands of victims and Catholics.

Despite horrific sex crimes and cover ups by Catholic clergy, many victims and troubled Catholics have held onto their faith and are sad about the pope's passing. They deserve a chance to focus on Pope's life and mourn his passing without the horrific distraction Law has become.

The group believes that Law's prominence in Rome is bringing more pain to already suffering victims and more sadness to already embarrassed Catholics. The group wants American Cardinals and other bishops to find the courage to break the code of silence in their church hierarchy, speak out on behalf of children raped in the church, and insist that Law be replaced and/or given no such honors in the future.

SNAP also plans to try and speak with Vatican officials this week in Rome and stress that the next Pope should be more pro-active, effective and compassionate in dealing with the world-wide sex abuse crisis.

SNAP is the USA's largest support group for people victimized by clergy.

CONTACT:

In Rome:
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP founder and president (in Rome) 312 399 4747

Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP outreach director (Grand Hotel Tiberio at Via Lattanzio 51)


In the US:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director (314) 566 9790 cell
Mark Serrano of Washington DC, SNAP national board member (571) 223 0042 work
Peter Isely of Milwaukee, SNAP national board member (414) 429 7259 cell
Mary Grant of Long Beach CA, SNAP western regional director (626) 419 2930
Mary Guentner of Milwaukee, SNAP Wisconsin coordinator (414) 418 3191 cell

Posted by Nancy at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

SNAP's Leaflet for Cardinal Law's Mass

Please Help Us Heal the Wounded and Protect the Vulnerable

WHO ARE WE?

We are men and women who were sexually abused by Catholic clergy and are trying to recover from the trauma and prevent others from being hurt. We belong to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a confidential, independent support group for victims.


WHY ARE WE HERE?

Catholics across the globe deserve the opportunity to reflect on the life of and mourn the passing of John Paul II without the embarrassing, painful site of Cardinal Law, the "poster child" of complicit bishops.

Clergy sex abuse victims and their loved ones (especially the hundreds in the Boston Archdiocese) deserve to heal from their deep wounds without seeing Cardinal Bernard Law in a high profile position of honor and prominence in Rome.

We are deeply concerned about Law's hurtful actions. On Monday, the disgraced ex-head of the Boston Archdiocese will lead a special mass in honor of the deceased Pope.

At best, this is insensitive, at a time when millions of Catholics are trying to focus on the Pope's life and death. At worst, it rubs salt into already very deep wounds of caring Catholics and suffering victims.

We have formally asked the American Cardinals to intervene with Vatican officials to stop Law's involvement. We encourage Cardinals to find the courage to break the code of silence in their church hierarchy, speak out on behalf of children raped in the church, and insist that Law be replaced.

(If you are not familiar with Cardinal Law's cover up of cleregy sex crimes, please see http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/extras/coverups_archive.htm )

Please know that Massachusetts' top law enforcement official, the Attorney General, has said:

Cardinal Law bears "ultimate responsibility" for the "staggering" child sex abuse scandal.

The scandal is "due to an institutional acceptance of abuse and a massive and pervasive failure of leadership" by Cardinal Law. (Nearly 250 priests in his archdiocese stand accused of sex crimes.)

"The church cared more about itself than it did about kids.")


WHAT DO WE WANT?

--- Cardinal Law should step aside at this solemn moment and allow Catholics to grieve the loss of the Holy Father without the embarrassing, painful site of Cardinal Law, the "poster child" of complicit bishops.

--- Cardinals and bishops across the world should try and stop Cardinal Law's insensitive actions, or at least publicly speak out on behalf of those so severely, repeatedly and needlessly hurt on his watch in Boston.

--- The next Pope should forthrightly, compassionately, and effectively take prompt steps to safeguard the vulnerable and heal the wounded.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

--- Plead with any church official you know to intervene to try to convince Law to step aside.

--- Pray for the once trusting men, women, and children across the globe who have been harmed by abusive clergy and complicit church leaders.

--- Ask Catholics you know if they have been sexually abused. Be as supportive as possible if they acknowledge they have been hurt. Urge them to report the crimes to civil and criminal authorities. Help them find counseling. Tell them about our support group: SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Our web site is: www.SNAPnetwork.org

For more information: 312 399 4747, 314 566 9790 (US) or 1 877 SNAP HEALS

Posted by Nancy at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 09, 2005

Sex Abuse Victims Head To Rome

April 9, 2005 [SNAP - SurvivorsNetwork.org]

SNAP Is Upset Boston's Cardinal Will Say Special Mass For Pope

US Cardinals Should Try To Stop "Rubbing Salt Into Deep Wounds," Group Says

Several leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including a Chicago woman who is the group's founder, will head to Rome on Sunday, in part to protest Cardinal Bernard Law's prominent position in ceremonies surrounding the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

Barbara Blaine leaves town tomorrow afternoon, first to Milan, then to the Vatican. She plans to stay at least a week. Blaine and two other clergy sex abuse victims will also try to speak with Cardinals about factors they feel are important in choosing the next Pope.

Yesterday, SNAP sent letters to the American Cardinals who are now in Rome, expressing concern over Law's activities. On Monday, the disgraced ex-head of the Boston Archdiocese will lead a special mass in honor of the deceased Pope.

"This is hurtful decision, giving Law high profile honors during a time when thousands of Catholics are trying to focus on the Pope’s life and death, not on Law's horrific track record on child sexual abuse," said Dorris.

At a Los Angeles news conference yesterday, SNAP member delivered a letter to Cardinal Mahony's office, formally asking he and other church officials to intervene with Vatican bureaucrats and stop Law's involvement. A similar letter was sent by e mail or fax to the other ten American church leaders in Rome.

"It just rub salt into the already deep wounds of caring Catholics and suffering victims," said David Clohessy, SNAP national director.

The group believes that Law’s prominence in Rome is bringing more pain to already suffering victims and more sadness to already embarrassed Catholics. The group wants the American Cardinals to "find the courage to break the code of silence in their church hierarchy, speak out on behalf of children raped in the church, and insist that Law be replaced."


SNAP is the nation's largest support group for people victimized by clergy.

A copy of SNAP's letter to the Cardinals is below:

April 8, 2005

Dear Cardinal Mahony:

Many times we've stood outside your cathedral, publicly urging you to help heal the hundreds of wounded men and women who are suffering because of abusive clergy of the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

Today, we will stand outside your cathedral again, this time urging you to help heal the hundreds of wounded men and women who are suffering because of abusive clergy of the Boston Archdiocese, and indeed, the whole country.

We will also urge you to help heal the wounds of hundreds of thousands of Catholics who are frustrated and embarrassed by the insensitivity of church officials - both in Rome and in the US - and who deserve, at this historic moment, some escape from the "poster child" of complicit bishops, Cardinal Bernard Law.

Cardinal Mahony, you are the "dean" of the American Catholic cardinals, representing the largest archdiocese in America. In that role, and in your role as a shepherd, a pastor and a priest, we emphatically urge you to do what's right - and speak out against Cardinal Law's shameless self-aggrandizing.

It's been reported that Law is scheduled to say special mass for the Pope this Monday. And last Sunday, he gave an extensive interview to ABC news about the Pope, while steadfastly refusing to comment on the horrific church sex abuse crisis in which he played such a key role.

From our perspective, Law is exploiting this sad time for his own selfish rehabilitation attempt. Out of sensitivity and respect for those families who continue to suffer because of his cover ups, and in a spirit of genuine contrition, Law should avoid the public limelight.

Law should have the courtesy, decency, and humility to step aside voluntarily, out of deference to the well-being of clergy sex abuse victims, their loved ones, and the laity in the US.

If he genuinely wants to honor the Pope, he should avoid causing distractions to the solemn ceremonies and recluse himself from any other public role in the days and weeks again.

But the issue really isn't his behavior. It's the stunning and inexcusable silence by Law's brother prelates.

Vatican officials should prevail upon Law to stop rubbing salt into the already deep wounds of the American church and the hundreds of men and women whose faith has been stolen and whose pain is still crippling because of Law's abusive clerics. They should never have chosen him and they should now ask his to step aside.

Bishops and cardinals across the globe, especially in America, should also forcefully speak out now on behalf of the wounded, and insist that Law put the memory of

John Paul II and the needs of Catholics and clergy abuse victims above his own self-aggrandizement.

It's especially fitting and important that American bishops and cardinals show some spine and some principles now, and speak out.

And among all the American bishops and cardinals, you should lead the way. In 2002, you told the LA Times, when asked about the pressure on Cardinal Law to resign, “I don't know how I could face people. I don't know how I could walk down the main aisle of the church myself comfortably, interiorly, if I had been [guilty] of grave neglect."

On Monday night, Law will again "walk down the aisle," this time in a more exalted setting, in Rome He will act as if thousands have been magically healed or that the sex abuse cover-up never happened.

Sadly, no church leader has tried to stop this or denounce this. It is time for you and your fellow American cardinals to step up to the plate, and find the courage (as so many brave victims have done) to confront wrongdoing. The code of silence with which church officials shelter even the most egregious among themselves must be broken.

This is about preventing more preventable pain, not about punishing a man who has already caused or helped cause hundreds of shattered lives. We seek these things out of compassion for the victims of rape and sodomy by clergy, not out of anger toward the hierarchy.

Cardinal Law is correct when he says this is the time to "focus" on Pope John Paul II. Thousands of caring Catholics and wounded victims, however, find it hard to keep that focus when Law is apparently using the Pope's passing to try and rehabilitate himself much like Richard Nixon did after Watergate.

You can try to stop this hurtful move. You can speak out against it, regardless of whether anyone eventually listens. We implore you to do both.


David Clohessy
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915

Barbara Blaine
President, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
PO Box 6416
Chicago IL 60680
312 399 4747

Barbara Dorris
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
6245 Westminster
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688

Mary Grant
Western Regional Director, SNAP
Long Beach CA
(626) 419-2930 cell

Posted by Nancy at 06:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2005

Gingerbread House recognizes Child Abuse Prevention Month

April 3, 2005

Over 140 new cases of Child Abuse were reported to the Gingerbread House children's advocacy center last year. "Children in our community are being victimized and robbed of their childhood," said John Wyckoff, agency executive director. "We have an obligation as a community to recognize and deal with this perpetuating cycle of abuse." This is one reason that the Gingerbread House children's advocacy center is joining in the recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

The number of reported child abuse cases is only increasing as 92 cases have been seen at the Gingerbread House through the first half of the fiscal year 2004-2005 for the center.

The Gingerbread House which conducts forensic interviews of the child victims of sexual and/or serious physical abuse. Of these 92 cases, 80 involved sexual abuse and 12 involved serious physical abuse. Last year Gingerbread House interviewed a total of 132 cases.

Gingerbread House children's advocacy center is joining in the recognition of April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.

Gingerbread House has multi-disciplinary team members including representatives from Child Protective Services, every law enforcement agency in Ellis County and the Ellis County and District Attorney's Office. This team provides a coordinated effort in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases.

Utilizing a child-friendly environment for the child victims and their non-offending family members, the Gingerbread House has a trained interviewer on staff to talk with the child as team members watch via a closed-circuit video setup. This prevents further trauma to the child by reducing the number of times the child must tell his or her story.

"Try to imagine being a 6-year-old female child having to tell your story of how you were sexually assault and how you had trusted this person," Wyckoff said. "And because of this coordinated team effort and the support we provide to these children and their families, imagine this same child asking as she leaves the Gingerbread House, 'Can I come back next week and play again?'

By bringing this team of professionals together the center is able to minimize the number of times children must tell their story. The center's goal is to break the cycle of abuse one child at a time.

During Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month (April), the Gingerbread House will hold its annual open house from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at its offices, 820 Ferris Ave., Suite 230 in effort to intensify public awareness of the growing concern about child abuse.

The Gingerbread House opened its doors in December 1999. And the Gingerbread House expects to purchase land soon on which to construct its own facility - which will further continue its mission.

Their goal is to be in their own building in 2006 and will be starting a capital campaign in the near future towards that goal.

Gingerbread House is one of 59 centers throughout the state. Each center is a member of Children's Advocacy Centers of Texas, a nonprofit, state association that promotes and supports the development of local centers.

You can contact Gingerbread House at (972) 937-1870

Posted by Nancy at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)