Archived editorials by Kristine Ward

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Pope Francis and Protection

Your Help Needed

March 20, 2013

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) appreciates Pope Francis emphasis on protection in the homily of his installation Mass.

But the word must become kinetic to solve and eradicate the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church by priests and nuns.

It must have the energy of action behind it to truly protect children and give the survivors the protection of justice.

Juxtaposed to the Pope’s installation homily are two news stories published yesterday that are disturbing.

Here are the links:

Given the gravity of this crisis to speak of protection and directly link the word to children in the inaugural Mass homily holds out hope and not to act on these words would border on cruelty not on tenderness.

That means removals and resignations not only of predator priests and nuns but Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Curia and Chancery personnel who aided and abetted criminals and obstructed justice favoring the predator over the child.

Criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph must be replaced.

Documents in Argentina and throughout the universal Church must be released.

Catholics can and should find their way to all of the virtues of St. Francis. While it’s nice to have a Pope lead them there, it’s possible to get there without one.

That’s not the case when it comes to setting, demanding and acting on the standards of justice for survivors and protection for children involving the removal of predator priests and nuns, Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals and Curial officials who have either abused or aided and abetted those who have.

For that you need a Pope.

Cardinals spoke frequently publicly before the conclave about how the Church realized the scourge of the sexual abuse crisis and a new pope must act regarding it.

If Pope Francis doesn’t act decisively regarding the crisis of sexual abuse by priests and nuns these public pronouncements by Cardinals will become a sham and a shill for getting over and through the time of massive media attention focused on the Church with the veneer of public relations but no real firm purpose of justice, amendment, or the protection of children.

We implore all of our readers but particularly those who live in dioceses headed by Cardinal electors to be in contact with those elector Cardinals regarding the hypocrisy of talking one game before an election and accepting words alone as accountability and responsibility after an election and the fading of television lights and newsprint.

We urge all of our readers to make your position known by contact with the Cardinal electors. Contact your Bishop and making your voice heard. Bishops’ contact information is available at

If you think contacting hierarchs is a waste of time, or even if you don’t, write a Letter to the Editor of your local paper and the largest circulation newspaper in your State.

Two popes before Francis offered words.

Words alone, pretty or plain, will be no substitute for action.

We wait now for action from this new pope.

But not with patience for the wait so far in this crisis for the Church to act decisively to cleanse itself and set up a new path has taken far too long.

Survivors and their families must not be set up and used in the crucible of media glare only to be cast off again in an era of good feeling.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an all volunteer organization of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill supporting survivors of sexual abuse and working to educate society about sexual abuse and to bring about effective legislative reforms. NSAC News is a daily free online news briefing on the scandal distributed online Monday through Friday. To subscribe email Steve Sheehan:

A Papacy’s First Steps: Where Will They Lead?

March 18, 2013

We hope Dublin’s Archbishop  Diarmuid Martin had some good St. Patrick Day’s inside tracking information stronger than wishful thinking and style changes to back up his Sunday declaration that Pope Francis will “clearly address” the issue of sexual abuse.

Cardinal Bernard Law’s presence at St. Mary Major Basilica during Pope Francis’s first public outing after the conclave is troubling to say the least.

It’s hard to imagine that Law’s baggage wasn’t known to the Argentinian who is now Pope. A Pope, it appears in these early days, for whom style may be a conveyance of substance.

Law’s presence in the Basilica and the new pontiff’s greeting of him was an insult of hippopotamus proportions particularly for one conscious of what appearance can convey.

This slap to survivors should have outweighed any perceived or real slight to an “emeritus” archpriest of the basilica.

Not to mention that Law should have had enough sense to step aside and stay away knowing the message that his presence would send.

The first days are muddled as well by South African Cardinal Wilfred Napier’s insistence that pedophilia is not a “criminal condition” but a psychological illness.

In doing this Napier is arguing strongly against punishment for pedophiles.

This path leads to the same old hiding spot, the refusal to see where the responsibility is — with the adult not the child.

Tomorrow, Pope Francis – who is just as much Pope today as he will be tomorrow – will be in St. Peter’s Square and “installed” or “inaugurated” or whatever beginning word you’d like to tag on the proceedings. Then, all that’s left is the hard work.

NSAC believes that the hard work includes the removal of Bishop Robert Finn as head of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph along with the removal of any and all Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who are complicit in the cover-up of predators, as well as the clear, distinct direction to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that the backlog of hundreds upon hundreds of cases of credibly accused priests be cleared with all deliberative speed, and the new Secretary of State be a man of strong spine who does not believe that criminals should be protected no matter what country they live in, work in or were transferred to in order to escape their crimes.

After that Pope Francis should release all documents related to the crisis.

Then he should set about finding the survivors, all of them , with a sound, real dedication and a clarion call to Catholics to search for, seek out and find the survivors – because it is only through the courage of the survivors and the documents that the truth is and will be known.

Hand in hand with searching for the survivors must be the wide spread publication by all available means through dioceses and parishes of the knowledge of predator priests and nuns, including where they have been and where they are now.

It will be painful but to repair and rebuild the Church it must be done.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)


March 13, 2013

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) urgently calls on Pope Francis to act forcefully for justice for the survivors of sexual abuse by priests and nuns.

The Church walks in a moment of great hope.

The Church must walk through great pain to get to its fullness.

Words alone, whether they are pretty or plain, will not get the job done.

First, without hesitation, the new pope must remove criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

In the midst of celebration it must be remembered that to truly cleanse and heal the process will be painful and it needs to be extensive.

Removals and resignations of hierarchs complicit in covering up crimes must be done. That means Pope Francis must take action against Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who have covered up crimes and aided criminal activity.

Clearing the backlog of hundreds upon hundreds of cases of priests credibly accused that are bottlenecked in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith must be a priority. These men are on paid vacations and the vacations are paid for by the Catholic faithful.

The new pope is a Jesuit and the Jesuits order has been revealed to be one of the leading religious orders in terms of abuse cases. The new pope must see the damage to the Church and to the society at large from the crimes of the members of his order and those in his order who covered them up.

Words of judgment, condemnation and animosity toward victims and their families must end.

Nothing should be done to in any way that further harms the survivors.

A concentrated, real effort led by this new pope but done by the whole Church must be inaugurated to find and honor all the survivors of sexual abuse by priests and nuns.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, NSAC

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an all volunteer organization of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill supporting survivors of sexual abuse and working to educate society about sexual abuse and to bring about effective legislative reforms. NSAC News is a daily free online news briefing on the scandal distributed online Monday through Friday. To subscribe email Steve Sheehan:

March 12, 2013

Before the Smoke, the Mirrors

Before we get to the smoking moment that heralds the one man standing on a balcony and the cascading cavalcade of comment about him begins, we think this small of space of time should be reserved for mirrors.

The mirrors that 115 men looked into this morning.

One hundred and fifteen faces of men ranging in age from 55 to 80 were reflected back to Cardinal electors as day broke across the EternalCity.

As they looked into their own eyes, we wonder if there was honesty in the moment.

If there had been, we think the circle of them concelebrating in St. Peter’s Basilica would be smaller than it was and the number of them chanting the Litany of the Saints and entering into the Sistine Chapel today would be less, considerably less than 115.

The larger circle would have formed without Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Cardinal Bernard Law.

The smaller group entering into the Sistine would be minus Cardinal Roger Mahony, Cardinal Sean Brady, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Domeninco Calcagno.

These and others, for indeed there are others, should have self selected out of the high solemnity of the public acts of leaders of a Church that regards itself as a moral pillar of the planet.

If the electors had shown the courage to leave their chairs empty as witness of the wounds they had inflicted on the Church for which they are now choosing a leader half the battle of the rising from the ashes of scandal and crisis would be won.

Perhaps in the end of a true and honest evaluation of themselves reflected back to them by their mirrors, only one of them would have been worthy and he would simply have walked down the great aisle of the largest Church in Christendom and knelt humbly before his God.

And the Church would at this moment be on the road to resurrection.

Perhaps all of them would have been honest enough to have stayed in the quarters in which they confronted their own reflections having been overcome by the reality of the weight of scandal that bears down on the Church.

Then with honesty as a foundation for responsibility and accountability we would be at this hour moving to a profound moment for the world.

Alas, we are not.

Our thoughts turn to the survivors and their families for whom these days rip open afresh the deep, agonizing gouges of rape and sodomy suffered at the hands of men and women draped in the trappings of holiness and protected by the power that sits in the rarified secrecy of the Sistine Chapel.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition,

One Eyed Men as Kings

March 6, 2013  

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

We sincerely hope this is not what’s happening in the view of the world’s Cardinals as they read interviews by the Cardinals from the United States and speak with them over coffee, meals and in reception lines during these days.

Because a vast amount of news print and broadcast minutes were brought to bear on the sexual abuse scandal in the United States, the country’s Cardinals should not be seen as experts on the protection of children or justice for the survivors. Neither should Ireland’s Primate Sean Brady nor Australia’s Cardinal George Pell.

For that, we sincerely hope the Cardinals and especially the man who emerges as Pope know that accountability will come only from hard Church examination from experts across a number of critical fields: legal, psychological, medical, sociological, educational, and financial.

Cardinals, it appears from the dribbling in approach that some of them have engineered to delay the setting of a date for the conclave, do know how to strategize.

The world will be watching to see if they willing to put that skill to use for the true benefit of the protection of children and justice for those raped and sodomized by priests and nuns to  address the largest crisis in the Church in the past 500 years.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC) ,

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an all volunteer organization of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill supporting survivors of sexual abuse and working to educate society about sexual abuse and to bring about effective legislative reforms. NSAC News is a daily free online news briefing on the scandal distributed online Monday through Friday. To subscribe email Steve Sheehan:

What’s Missing?

 March 5, 2013

We find it interesting that Cardinal Francis George of Chicago seems to know how to discuss sexual abuse before a conclave but he quickly loses an interest for the topic after one.

Our readers may recall that before the 2005 conclave Cardinal George made sure the world knew that he had taken up the subject with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and had extracted a promise from the Cardinal-contender that he would do something about it if he emerged from the conclave a pope.

As the Cardinals gathered  Monday for their first official meeting before the conclave Cardinal George was at it again.

Here’s a link to the story:

We call our readers attention to this particular understatement by Cardinal George “They (the victims) have been abused by a Catholic priest and sometimes by a Catholic bishop and sometimes the abuse has not been addressed as it should have been by Catholic bishops,” George said. “That is a terrible wound on the body of the church.”

Both Cardinal George and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York – in these pre-voting interviews — are quick to describe the rape and sodomy of children by priests and nuns as “sin.”

The rape and sodomy of children is criminal activity.

The cover-up by bishops, cardinals and popes is criminal activity.

What’s missing in these interviews is calling a spade a spade.

Also, pay careful attention to how the crisis is framed. It’s the sins of  perpetrator priests and what they did.

Indeed what perpetrator priests did needs to be laid on the table in this pre-voting days right alongside what bishops and cardinals and popes did.

How will Cardinals do that while they sitting beside Cardinal Roger Mahony, Cardinal Sean Brady, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and Cardinal Godfried Daneels?

Only a real come to Jesus talk can get them to an honest to God examination of the crisis that results in removals, resignations, and convictions among their own ranks.

What are the odds they are going there?

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an all volunteer organziation of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill supporting survivors of sexual abuse and working to educate society about sexual abuse and to bring about effective legislative reforms. NSAC News is a daily free online news briefing on the scandal distributed online Monday through Friday. To susbscribe email Steve Sheehan:

March 1, 2013 

Why is the Vatican Briefing on the Pope Emeritus?

 We have a simple question for the Vatican today: why is it briefing the news media on what Pope Emeritus Benedict did after 8 PM last night and what he’s going to do today?

 The Vatican has felt some compuction to let the world  know that the Pope Emeritus watched television, slept, said a rosary – and brought a heavy tome of a theology book with him from his previous palace.

The Benedict XVI papacy is over – and the Pope Emeritus said he was withdrawing.

The Vatican should leave it where the Pope Emeritus left it right before he turned from the window of the Castle Gandolfo balcony and slipped from view –“Thank you and good night.”

That should have sufficed for “Amen” in the vernacular of the place.

Public relations reports on him should have been shut down.

But, make no mistake, the Vatican isn’t briefing without the Pope Emeritus’ knowledge and agreement.

This should give us all an insight to the Pope Emeritus’ idea of what his “retirement” will be.

Our bet: more involved than not. Not only with controlling his image but with the doings at the Vatican.

Our suggestion: If the Vatican needs something to do beyond planning for and  holding a conclave, installing a new pope, and Holy Week ceremonies, it can begin preparing for its appearance before a United Nations Committee to explain its record on the protection of children from sexual violence  and safeguarding them the well-being and dignity.

Our suggestion to reporters: If the Vatican continues to brief on the Pope Emeritus reporters may want to ask what he thinks about his loss of absolute immunity as a head of state and the potential for sexual abuse victims to sue him.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, NSAC,

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an all volunteer organziation of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill supporting survivors of sexual abuse and working to educate society about sexual abuse and to bring about effective legislative reforms. NSAC News is a daily free online news briefing on the scandal distributed online Monday through Friday. To susbscribe email Steve Sheehan:


February 28, 2013

Our hope is slim and sliding rapidly away but hope’s DNA is resilience and therefore we will hover over it until the hour strikes when hope is slain and an abdicating pontiff punts the largest crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in the last 500 years into the Vacant See.

In the waning hours of his papacy, we hope that Pope Benedict XVI removes criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn as head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph, MO, lifts the seal of secrecy from the documents that Vatican knows detail the crisis, and removes from the priesthood all of the priests who are credibly accused whose cases have been sitting for years within the protection of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

In the name of all that is good and holy we hope that Pope Benedict,  who can express his own sense of desolation adrift from a Lord he felt was sleeping, understands what those raped and sodomized by priests and nuns live with each day.

We hope he knows that they are burdened, scarred and haunted by depression, loss, confusion, anger and the void of being held back from the gate of spiritual solace by the memories of the desecration of their young bodies by priests and nuns.

While he still commands the full power of the papacy, we hope that Pope Benedict XVI uses it to be the Vicar of Christ’s healing through the power of truth.

By virtue of heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where the cases of clergy sexual abuse became centralized under his direction and by being the Supreme Pontiff, this man has more knowledge than anyone in the Church about the vastness and the cruelty of this scandal.

The tremendous power of the papacy is his until the clock strikes 8 PM today in Rome. We hope that as the hours and then minutes tick by and the last of this and the last of that continues to be counted off that he will reach for a pen and with the stroke of it start the Church’s journey to the unveiling of truth.

As it was in the beginning of his papacy when he said, “ The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me … “ so let it be at the end of his papacy that Pope Benedict acts so that the  world can see what resurrection is.

We hope that Pope Benedict does not abdicate what he could do on the last day.

He has the power to throw a Hail Mary pass of truth and justice into the Vacant See.  We hope he knows that.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC),

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an all volunteer organziation of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill supporting survivors of sexual abuse and working to educate society about sexual abuse and to bring about effective legislative reforms. NSAC News is a daily free online news briefing on the scandal distributed online Monday through Friday. To susbscribe email Steve Sheehan:


 February 27, 2013

Cardinal Levada: enough is never enough

We read with interest the following quote from Cardinal William Levada who will be an elector in the coming conclave.

‘There are some victims groups for whom enough is never enough, so we have to do our jobs as best we see it,’ said Levada, 76, who spoke with reporters from a Menlo Park seminary as he prepared for his trip to the Vatican for the papal conclave.

The dig at survivors is obvious, of course, from this man who was entrusted with care of souls in a California diocese before being promoted to Pope Benedict’s previous position as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where the clergy sexual abuse cases were sent.

We have to wonder what Cardinal Levada’s reaction would be if Catholics who sat in the pews where he preached or in the audience at dinners where he spoke simply said to themselves following the homily instructions, “enough goodness, sacrifice, fasting, almsgiving, or prayer will never be enough – why try it?”

Cardinal Darmaatadja: the eyes have had it

Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja, of Jakarta, Indonesia, who at 78 could have been an elector in the conclave, said in an interview with the Rome-based AsiaNews agency that his health and particularly the “progressive deterioration” of his eyesight led to his decision not to travel to Rome.

Best anyone publicly knows at this point, the handicap that is causing  Cardinal Darmaatmadja’s to be shut out from the conclave is physical not moral.

If his brother Cardinals and the abdicating Pope, whose presence on Twitter was inaugurated with fanfare, could not be moved to modernly transport him into the conclave via Skype it is terribly sad that they were not moved to pity enough to enlist an over age 80 sighted Cardinal to go to the conclave to assist his brother with his “sacred duty.”

The Report: for the chosen one’s eyes only but not for the choosers

The Vatican announcement regarding who will see the results of a three Cardinal commission to investigate the huge leak of confidential information from the Vatican, in fact, from the Pope’s desk says the report will remain secret.

The announcement said: “The Holy Father has decided that the acts of this investigation, known only to himself, remain solely at the disposition of the new Pope.

So, the 115 men (as of today’s counting) who when they received red hats swore to be so faithful to the Church that they would shed their blood if necessary to protect her, will be entering into the most serious decision of their lives with mighty consequences for the Church without the information contained in the report.

Seems unfair at the very least that a Pope who says he won’t be involved in the next conclave has devised a bit of a hamstring for those who will, let alone the possibility of avoidable inadequacy by the chosen one who will read the report.

And, it appears, there has not been a peep from those who are being hamstrung.

Soles: oh, so important, but what about souls?

It seems it was impossible for the Vatican to keep the news briefing about life after the papacy to the mere basics of title and place.

Fashion, it seems, in the closing hours of this papacy has been on the minds of the Pope and the Vatican and nothing less than the details of the color of the soutane that will be worn capeless in retirement, the fisherman’s shoes and the fate of the ring would do.

Odd, it seems, since this was a retirement that was being billed as an out of sight one.

The Vatican felt it important to let the world know that Pope-emeritus Benedict will no longer look down at red shoes but will walk in Mexican crafted brown ones.

We hope with every step he takes in them he will think of the Mexican survivors of sexual abuse, particularly those victims of Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries, for whom the steps of daily life are painful and the fugitive perpetrator priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who walk free in Mexico.

We hope that leads him to remember all of the other victims of sexual abuse – and those children who are in harm’s way today – because he, who by virtue of heading the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith and inhabiting the papacy knew more than anyone else — abdicated long ago from using the tremendous power of the papacy to truly confront the crisis.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an all volunteer organziation of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill supporting survivors of sexual abuse and working to educate society about sexual abuse and to bring about effective legislative reforms. NSAC News is a daily free online news briefing on the scandal distributed online Monday through Friday. To susbscribe email Steve Sheehan:


February 26, 2013

This is an urgent, intense cri de coeur to priests and seminarians who have been abused by superiors or who know of priests, former priests and seminarians who have been abused by superiors to come forward – now.

We have learned in the 10 years since the Boston incarnation of the crisis what others who have labored in this field before us have long known: that there are patterns to abuse, to grooming, to the wrong use of authority, to the twisting of obeisance, the misuse of closing ranks.

We have learned that it is extremely rare that survivors emerge from totally unique circumstances.

The priests and former priest who took their cases to the papal nuncio in Scotland about the “inappropriate behavior” of Cardinal Keith O’Brien showed courage. Their acts of courage have borne fruit.

We believe they are not the only priests who have been abused within the system of seminarians, priests, and hierarchs.

It is the simple truth that when priests come forward they have impact disproportionate to their numbers.

We saw it in Boston 10 years ago. It was the letter signed by only 54 priests out of over 3,000 secular and religious order priests in the Archdiocese of Boston that was the hinge and deciding point for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law as the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston.

Over this weekend and culminating in Monday’s papal acceptance of Cardinal O’Brien’s tendered resignation and the Cardinal’s subsequent non-conclave attendance announcement we saw again the power of priests.

If you are a priest who has been or is being abused by a superior, a bishop, a cardinal, a seminarian who has been or is being abused by a superior, a bishop, a cardinal, a former priest who has been abused, a friend or family member or parishioner of any priest, seminarian or former priest who has been or who is being abused, please take considerable stock now on the impact you could have now upon the future of the Church.

We ask our readers who know priests, former priests and seminarians who have suffered abuse to contact them and ask them to consider coming forward now while offering their full support for what is indeed a difficult and hard decision.

We, at NSAC, know how much courage it takes to come forward. We honor it.

We also know there is no past tense to being a survivor. It is all present tense.

And it is understandable that you do not wish to come forward, to be known, to say publicly what you carry privately.

But if you have ever thought of revealing what happened or is happening to you, we ask you to go to the bedrock of why you became a seminarian, why you were ordained. We ask you to honor your own struggle, your own pain, your own deep down knowledge of what is right and what is wrong – not matter who does it, or who tries to explain it in the opposite, or who uses authority to squelch right while letting wrong run rampant.

We understand that make a promise to your bishop. We understand there are consequences to speaking out.

We ask you to consider and re-consider Who you are following.

For it is the Lord who is, who was and ever shall be, who said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

We ask you to search your heart and soul deeply for what to do now.

As the Church and with it a world so sorely in need of moral and spiritual leadership stands on the threshold of possible change – or at the threshold of more of the same — these days do carry a potency that is not found every day.

In this world, at this time, priests stand in singular, special circumstances.

It is the Truth that will set you free.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC),

 Tell Your Rep

 February 22, 2013

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issues a report recently that NSAC believes should not be overlooked.

The Church is quick to hum the tune that it’s the leader in reform where sexual abuse is concerned and the singing is aimed at pushing the inquirer past the blunt facts that few clerics or nuns have been prosecuted for sexual abuse and the hierarchs that covered up the criminal activity aiding and abetting its continuing are not sitting in jail cells.

The UN Report takes aim at the United States at the national level for going light on the investigation and criminal prosecution of clerics for sexual abuse. The report is a result of a five year review.

Here are links to several news stories about the report:

and we call your attention to SNAP Wisconsin’s statement on the international section of its website.

Be the first to let your US House of Representatives member and your US Senators, know about this report and your thoughts about it:

Here’s an easy link to contact your congressperson and senators.

Another Cardinal Speaks Out

The Times They Are A’ Changing?

 Cardinal Joseph Zen, who at age 81 is prohibited from participating in the conclave took the unusual step of criticizing the Vatican for appeasement of the Chinese government.

But it seems he has something to say to his brother Cardinals before their withdrawal into the Sistine Chapel.

He charged that the Vatican has allowed Chinese government officials to exercise control over the Church in China.

Cardinal Zen says while he’s criticized Beijing in the past he refrained from criticism of the Vatican but now he believes Vatican officials “should take responsibility.”

Link to the story:

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

Cardinals Deposed

 February 21, 2013

It should be a jarring thing for Catholics in the pews and the society at large that two Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, Timothy Dolan and Roger Mahony, are being deposed regarding sexual abuse cases before their flights to Rome to participate in what is called their “sacred duty” to elect the next pope.

Quite a juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane.

Cardinal Dolan is being deposed regarding Milwaukee cases and Cardinal Mahony for a case involving a fugitive priest who fled to Mexico.

The fact that these depositions are taking place is eminently noteworthy:

  • they are rare instances in which hierarchs, particularly Cardinals are questioned under oath for what they did and didn’t do regarding sexual abuse by priests in their dioceses
  • they are strong and stark reminders that the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church cannot be swept away by frivolity, back slapping, joking demurring or casting one self’s as a scapegoat
  • their timing bears the whiff of vigilance against flight to a sovereign state

In the midst of the once and future pope gush and hoopla and buzz and betting, justice’s wheels are slowly turning.

It is a welcome sound and sight.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition,

Some Sharp Elbows Eminence-ly Showing

February 20, 2013

NSAC takes note of Cardinal elector Velasio De Paolis for publicly taking the position that while Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles can be part of the conclave he should not be.

This kind of sharp elbowing by a Cardinal is rarely seen in the media and is in his princely class edging up to the category of a glove slap duel challenge.

Here’s the link to USA Today’s story:

Cardinal De Paolis was part of the Vatican commission that reviewed the Legionnaires of Christ religious order in the wake of public revelations about its disgraced founder, Marcial Maciel.

His strong dropping of a conscience hint conclave embargo against Mahony, let us hope, is built on the insight he may have gain from that commission.

Cardinal De Paolis also said, “He (Mahony) could be advised not to take part only through a private intervention by someone with great authority.”

We strongly urge Cardinal De Paolis to speak to the “great authority” while he is participating in the Vatican Lenten retreat with him. Pope Benedict should bar Cardinal Mahony from the conclave.

NSAC called for Cardinal Mahony to be excluded from the conclave in its initial statement on Pope Benedict’s resignation on 2/11/13. Here’s the link to our statement:

You can sign the “Stay Home, Cardinal Mahony” petition at’s website.

Once again, if you think it’s not worth it, have you seen a Cardinal take the gloves off against another Cardinal before?

We call your attention to the comment by papabile Cardinal Peter Turkson equating sexual abuse to homosexuality and absolving his continent, yes, indeed the entire continent, of it because of the African culture condemns homosexuality.

Here’s the link to the story:

It would be terrific if a wonderland of a “culture” existed to protect children from sexual abuse but, for sure, the land of blinders does not.

The Pope is a citizen of the world, the head of a universal Church, and his intellect must lead him to knowledge.

Tthere is plenty of knowledge now, thanks to the courage of the survivors and their families, for those who seek to know the causes of this crisis and its cover up to have it – and indeed to use it to protect children, not perpetrators.

Keep the Survivors in Mind

 Newspapers, television, radio, and Internet are full of the papal resignation and coming conclave stories. It is difficult time for survivors even if they try to avoid it.

 There is an undercurrent that tugs at them. It is painful. Please keep them in mind.

Write letters to the editor. This a fertile time for educating society about the need to reform our laws to protect children.

We cannot honor the noble courage of the survivors in any better way than to do what they have been striving to do – nearly alone — for so many, many years — to make sure that what happened to them does not happen to one more child.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition,

The Conclave Has Begun

February 19, 2013
Before we actually find out who is behind door number one on the balcony of the largest Church in Christendom, the jockeying, the political skills and the last minute Pope Benedict activity shouldn’t be overlooked.
One can’t help but be struck by the political skills of the Italian cardinals.
One of them, Cardinal Giandranco Ravasi, is preaching the Lenten Retreat at the Vatican this week. That means he’s commanding the face to face attention of all the Curia cardinals. In addition, as the Lenten retreat preacher his statements will make their way into official and not so official postings on the Internet.
He’s commanding the attention of the Curia Cardinals, one of the larger voting blocs of Cardinal electors, on an unfettered and wide open stage that’s laid out with a day’s worth of time every day through Saturday.
Plenty of time for private rubbing of elbows, plenty of time for jotting a note to introduce him during a luncheon, dinner, reception next week to those whom a kingmaker Cardinal thinks he needs to meet, plenty of time waiting, albeit, begging to be used – complete with the complete texts of what he’s saying – courtesy of the papal print machine.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Cardinal Dolan is by his own admission, “waiting for instructions” about when the conclave will begin. Superpower or no superpower is there any reason not to understand why Americans are not serious contenders for the papacy?
The conclave, for all intents and purposes, has begun.
Those who aren’t on the ground in Rome will be playing catch up, second half ball.
The kingmakers are in session.
Money isn’t an object so why not have booked a flight, packed your bags and shown up Sunday night at 6 PM at the Vatican muscled your way in, — the element of surprise is always useful — or simply walked in among your brother Cardinals letting them to figure out what you might be up to — “retreating” or charging?
Pope Benedict’s activity was also in evidence as the “retreat” opened. He re-appointed four of the cardinals who have headed the Vatican Bank – no letting these decisions to his successor – and named a new cardinal to the overseer board of five. This is on top of his decision last week naming a new head of the Vatican Bank.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be?
While commentators continue to write and say that there will not be an papal audiences during the “retreat” Pope Benedict held an audience Monday evening with the Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti. He is a candidate for re-election in the Italian election that will take place on February 24-25 and his primary rival is former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who usually controls the media coverage because he owns most of the media outlets in the country and can afford to outspend his rivals by the bucket load. Berlusconi, much to his own displeasure is being overshadowed as a campaigner by the abdicating pope.
Let’s not forget that planned unusual 8 PM laying down of the papal keys of the kingdom. Four tantalizing, vacant hours left over on February 28 for what to happen in the legal, banking, criminal courts, and diplomatic worlds?
Here’s something the Pope could do before 8 PM on February 28: remove criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph.
If you haven’t already signed the petition regarding Bishop Finn, and sent it to everybody you know for their signatures, here’s the link:
Think it won’t make any difference?
Maybe you also thought a Pope wouldn’t resign in your lifetime.
— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

Follow the Leader

February 14, 2013

 Now is the time for Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph to follow his leader and resign, renounce, and depart.

 This moment affords him a saving grace.

 Out of the ashes of a criminal conviction could be built a measure of redemption.

 Out of the failure to protect the child and not the perpetrator could come course correction.

 Out of the wandering in a personal desert, out of the stumbling block of the criminal conviction that trips up any reach to teach moral principle, out of the shroud of shrunken authority could come life – and life abundantly.

 This moment, this thin space before 8 PM February 28, if seized, can offer resurrection to a diocese, its people, and the office of bishop.

 The drama of a papal resignation, the questions that swirl around it, the building chorus of comment, chatter and clatter about who will emerge from a conclave in the white soutane on front façade of St. Peter’s is a tent of cover for a bishop clinging to the old ways.

 New ground has been plowed – whatever the reasons.

 It’s in the best interest of God’s people, those Bishop Finn was called to serve, – and it can have a ripple effect into the larger society — for him now to take a page from the Pope’s book and write finished on his years as head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph.

 And a page from an old book may help as well – it’s St. Paul who recommends “think anew.”

 Bishop Finn could begin a trend of truth. Out of a small Midwestern diocese could come the acceptance of responsibility and an opening to the restoration of trust.

 Bishop Finn need simply tell his Pope that he will not take no for an answer to his resignation letter.

 Bishop Finn can and should impress upon his leader, the man who placed him in his position, that he is following the Pope’s example to make way for those better suited to lead and that the future cannot be like the past.

 Bishop Finn can give up the façade that all is well.

 Now is the acceptable time.

 But time, alas, is finite.

 — Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC) 

February 4, 2013

Priests in “Good Standing”

Where are the priests in good standing who will stand in howling protest or gentle rebuke that they have been lumped in with the likes of Cardinal Roger Mahony and Archdiocese of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Curry?

Where are all the “good priests” as Catholics are want to talk about when they seek to turn away from the criminal sordidness of this largest scandal in the Church in the past 500 years?

Where are the Catholics who will stand and call them to account?

News reports, columnists, editorial writers, and bloggers have commented on the remarkableness of a hierarch publicly rebuking another hierarch.  Remarkable only for its rarity.

But that alone only points to how far the Church has strayed, how much wrong has been accepted as right, how much unwillingness there is to stand for righteousness – for the least of these.

Even in the back and forth between Gomez and Mahony Catholics should be ashamed. Two men, charged with moral and spiritual leadership chose not the face to face meeting and a public announcement standing side by side but the public blast – one by letter the other by blog.  And the Cardinal, in his blog, turns churlish to tell the world that in the past two years since Gomez came to town he hadn’t brought the matter up.

Where’s the leadership in this for two men raised to high office in the Church?  What’s being taught here by men charged with the office of teacher?

“Stripping” Cardinal Mahony of his public duties has no effect on his private and secret duty as a papal elector or on his seat at three Curia congregation tables.  Elector status and Curia insider status remain intact. So does the Cardinal’s residence, his paycheck, his expense account, his clothing, and his public relations ability to reach millions.

Some “stripping.”

The kabuki theater that is now taking place with Gomez’ letter and Mahony’s blog is the throwing of logs into the river to hold back the dam of indictment.

But if not legal indictment, will there at least be the indictment against those who continue to claim that the crisis is over, the Church is in the lead in reform, children are safe while the Los Angeles’ documents continue to reveal the truth, the criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph remains in office, and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee continues its stall tactics in the bankruptcy proceedings.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ statement said, Cardinal Mahony, as Archbishop Emeritus, and Bishop Curry, as Auxiliary Bishop, remain bishops in good standing in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with full rights to celebrate the Holy Sacraments of the Church and to minister to the faithful without restriction.” 

What is playing out in Los Angeles is not confined to Los Angeles. There is nothing in the Pacific sunsets or in the Hollywood air that has localized this problem anymore than the baked beans or the Charles River were the source of the problem in the scandal incarnation in Boston in 2002.

It is not hierarchs that have brought the truth to light. It is the victims who have had to and continue to have to fight tooth and nail for justice.

It is not hierarchs who lead the fight for the solution. There is no interest in Gomez’ letter or in Mahony’s blog to end the flight of fugitive predator priests for whom doors for flight were opened by hierarchs, to demand justice for survivors, to seek real solutions, to honor the abused.

There is in the Gomez’ letter characterization – it is “sad” and “evil.”

There is in Mahony’s blog excuse –nothing is Mahony’s social work education, he tells us, prepared him for dealing with sexual abuse. But it seems something prepared him for helping predator priests. Could that have been his seminary education?

There is tinkling brass and clanging cymbals.

Where are the priests in “good standing” who will stand to stop this music?

Where are the Catholics who will call them to account?

To ask again the question that has lingered through all the incarnations of the scandal: where is the outrage?

—– Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)


January 31, 2013

Convictions in Philadelphia

 The jury in Philadelphia convicted Rev. Charles Engelhardt and former teacher Bernard Shero on Wednesday.

Here is the link to the Associated Press story via ABC News:

There will be news stories, columns, and other editorials about these convictions but it is our desire that these words spoken by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams capture and hold center ground today.

“The victim in this case has shown exceptional courage,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “Not only did he have the strength to report his abuse, he had the tenacity to look his abusers in the eye and testify in front of complete strangers about the horrific details of his attacks. I hope this verdict will help him to continue with the long journey of healing that comes after such trauma.”

Indeed, without the courage of victims, truth is strangled.

Society is deeply indebted to them for tearing away the masks, the veils, the abusers’ sought after opaque personas.

The Church for its own sake should cherish and honor the victims.

The Alice in Wonderland world of continuing to honor those who hide, deflect, dodge and open doors and roads to safety for abusers while debasing and shunning victims must end.

The victims are the lamplights of justice.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC),

January 24, 2013

Catholics, Come Home to Naïveté or the Truth?

The Roman Catholic Church in the United States is spending a bucketload of Catholic cash on the Catholics Come Home advertising campaign currently running in a number of media markets.

The Church has also spent incredible amounts of Catholic cash on attorneys and public relations firm to suppress, hide, and delay making public what the Catholic hierarchy and their aides and chancery staffs did with their knowledge of sexual abuse of children and minors.

Now in Los Angeles comes the deluge.

The deluge of the documents that as part of the 2007 clergy sexual abuse victims’ $660 million settlement were to be made – and now are being made – public.

But not before the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press joined forces to bring pressure to bear for the agreement for the records to be made public. And not before the Archdiocese of Los Angeles tried a last minute desperate effort to Swiss cheese the documents of the names of those in authority. The ploy didn’t work thanks to a stand-up judge who simply asked the question: don’t Catholics have a right to know what happened in their Church?

Links to Los Angeles document stories:

As the deluge comes, we’ll repeat what we’ve said in this space before – the truth is in the documents.

But there is also danger in the deluge.

Danger that because there are so many documents and so much that was covered up Catholics will shield their eyes while swallowing and spouting the party line that the crisis is history and the Church leads in the protection of children.

We stand this day to say that we believe Catholics should come home – fighting mad, indignant, and with Gospel strengthened spines demanding that the Church rid itself of those who hid criminal actions and on the threshold of certain public exposure chose to clothe themselves as Cardinal Roger Mahony did in the costume of naïveté. Better to be seen as naïve than seen in prison garb.

The documents of the deluge are showing that Mahony and his top advisor discussed ways to hide the criminal activity of priests preying on children 15 years before the scandal was front page news.

The documents do not show that Mahony did anything to help the children who were preyed upon, to stop the abuse, find answers, seek justice or in any way reach for a better solution than open escape routes for abusers.

There is some hand wringing in Mahony’s notes but hand wringing is not what’s celebrated when people bow to kiss a Cardinal’s ring and jockey for position next to one at a dinner or reception, or write checks to His Eminence, or the reason that lavish celebrations take place at cathedrals when a new hierarch comes to town to “lead.”

Mahony does not indicate that he will do anything now, “sorry” as he is, to use his considerable contact list, his public voice, or his position which is still valuable to many who collect and use people of influence – to find the fugitives from justice for whom he opened the doors, or truly accept responsibility in truth for what he did nor challenge his Church or his Pope to come clean about what they did.

This is not religious leadership.

This is not good example.

This is not protecting the innocent, the weak and the vulnerable.

This is not defending life.

This is cowardice.

It is cowardice coupled with conceit and muscled with money.

Catholics should not stand for it believing in some naïve way that not to speak out against this kind of leader and his ilk is loyalty to God – rewardable with a celestial crown.

We stand this day in solidarity with SNAP’s call that every page of the documents must be examined by the district attorney to determine if criminal prosecutions can be brought against the Cardinal and his aides and any and all on his staff that concealed, diverted, deflected and aided and abetted criminals.

If criminal prosecutions cannot be brought because of statutes of limitations we believe it is incumbent upon the Los Angeles district attorney to tell the public who the unindicted conspirators are who slip the bonds of prosecution because of the statutes.

What can you do?


  • Read the documents.
  • Share them.
  • Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Send NSAC News and the links to the Los Angeles stories to just one Catholic today. One concerned citizen. One parent. One grandparent. One district attorney. One more tomorrow. Another on Friday. Ask for only one thing: that they read the documents. Second best, they read the news stories.
  • Support the survivor organizations: SNAP, Road to Recovery, us, the coalition in Pennsylvania testifying today to change the laws, – with money and time and solidarity. Silent admiration is one thing but it does not increase a movement. Protecting children requires strength and numbers.
  • Support Bishop Accountability ( These are dedicated small band of people who have faithfully been documenting the truth of this crisis.
  • Support John Wojnowski who is outside the Vatican Embassy day in and day out. Scrowl down this page to our editorial about John on what to do!

Without the courage and insistence of the survivors of the 2007 Los Angeles settlement, truth would be buried, hushed up and hustled away like an unseemly intruder. We applaud their steadfastness and their devotion to the truth and their desire that all who suffered be honored. It is not the Cardinal or the Pope or staff in a chancery who sought the light of day for the truth – it is the survivors.

For those who had childhoods stripped from them, for those whose lives bear each day the scourge of sexual abuse, for those families whose lives are seared with the brutality of the day to day struggle of the effects of sexual abuse, for them, please act today.

Nothing changes if the deluge of documents passes into an archive.

As far back as Aristotle, this wisdom has been with us: we are what we repeatedly do.

— Kristine Ward, NSAC, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC),

January 4, 2013

John Wojnowski

Sunday, January 6, brings us to the 11th anniversary of the breaking of the sexual abuse scandal in the United States in its Boston incarnation.

It’s the day the first news story ran in the series that would ultimately net the Boston Globe a Pulitzer Prize.

It is, as we have sadly learned and re-learned through this decade plus one, not the beginning of the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. Those roots go very, very depth and strength very, very long into the Church’s history.

The movement of response to this crisis which ballooned considerably with the Boston explosion of news that rippled throughout the country and now throughout the world, has produced heroes and villains.

Many of the heroes and heroines are unsung. Many of the villains remain unknown.

john wojnowski_1 - Copy - CopyToday, approaching the Boston anniversary, NSAC salutes, applauds and stands in solidarity in spirit with one of the staunchest and most unsung of the heroes: John Wojnowski.

John, who is a victim of sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic priest, has been outside of the Vatican Embassy to the United States, the Apostolic Nunciature, every day for 14 years. Here’s there today. He will be there tomorrow. No matter the weather. No matter the day. No mater the holiday. No matter the year.

John’s story is heartbreaking but his courage is fierce.

His life could have been so much different but he has taken the shattered pieces of it and built a place to stand for justice. He will not be silenced. He is a witness in his very flesh and bone for the vulnerable, the weak, and the innocent.

His lonely but determined and undaunted vigil recently was invaded by an ugly episode in this ugly scandal.

He was spat upon by an aide to the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States.  Tata 053 - Copy - Copy - Copy

He took his grievance to the Secret Service agent posted across the street from the nunicature at the country’s residence for the Vice President.

The Secret Service and has opened an investigation.

First and foremost, we believe it must be said, no matter what the private opinions, thoughts and attitudes of a diplomatic aide are – and particularly one who is a priest – there is no justification for spitting – of all things – on a person with a sign who is outside the diplomatic building of the power that lays claims to moral leadership on the planet.

Let us remember that this diplomatic aide is representing a Church that preaches respect for life – cradle to grave.

We value our NSAC News readers. We believe in your endurance, your perseverance and your support for the survivors of sexual abuse by priests and nuns.

So, on this eve of another major anniversary in this long, long, long crisis, we ask you for action.

First, let John know he is not alone. You can read about him and what propels his longstanding solo vigilance outside the embassy and reach him through the Minnesota SNAP page set up to receive comments for him. Here’s the link.

Second, make your stand known to his boss, the nuncio. The Pope appointed this man to represent the Roman Catholic Church within the temporal order of business among countries. This man is the Church’s representative to the United States. He is not a passing stranger. He’s a man whose been given a position of trust and influence.  He holds considerable sway over who is appointed a bishop in this country and how the affairs of the Church are conducted here. He’s a conduit between this country and the Vatican.

As an American or refugee or asylee seeking to become an American citizen, let him know what you think about the conduct of his diplomatic aide and his conduct as a nuncio in not publicly responding to it.

Here’s his contact information:

Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano
Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington D.C. 20008 United States
Phone: 202-333-7121
Fax  202-337-4036
Email: (if you reach a rejection on this email address, call and ask for the workable one). 

Third, make this a local issue. Take it up with the Victim Assistance Co-ordinator in your diocese.

Not in a meek, “thought you might be interested in this” email with a link.

No, with a real intent to find out if the Victim Assistance Coordinator in your diocese, believes that it’s okay for a Vatican diplomatic aide to behave in this manner while the Church touts that it’s leading the way in handling sexual abuse in this country.

Don’t take a lukewarm brush-off response that Victim Assistance Co-ordinators are not involved in this matter.

Of course, they are.

The Vatican’s global attitude is the role model and the gold standard for how the issue is handled locally.

So think globally, live locally doesn’t just apply to food – it’s imminently applicable in the situation of a universal church.

Here’s the link to locate your diocese’s Victim Assistance Co-ordinator:

For too long the Church has succeeded in this battle by a divide and conquer approach that runs many gamuts and gauntlets.

One of the tactical divide and conquer approaches is the dealing in one media market when an abuser is charged, named, sued, removed or laicized when the diocese or archdiocese’s territory spans a number of markets. Only in the largest of the dioceses does the media market reach all of the members of the archdiocese.

That also aids and abets the news about what happened on the nuncio’s lawn: it’s a Washington story. Not on your life. It’s a world story. This is a universal Church.

One of the most often used divide and conquer tactics is the way dioceses cocoon themselves when they want the outside world to go away and open themselves up in full butterfly fashion when they want to: Catholic universally some days, and other days, — such as in the criminally convicted Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri situation – not so much.

We know the continuing crisis carries a weariness.

We know as the calendar turns once again there is a weight to it.

We know it is difficult to read the continuing flow of stories in NSAC News Monday through Friday and those chronicled everyday on the Abuse Tracker. We know that a depression can set in with the constant drip of this coverage.

But we also know that John  Wojnowski, his vigil – and his face upon which the spittle of a priest ran — calls us to more.

If the Vatican Ambassador and your diocese’s Victim’s Assistance Coordinator tell you that the scandal is history, the Church is leading in the reform, and everything would be hunky dory if victims and their advocates would just shut up and sit down please ask them if they read NSAC News and/or the Abuse Tracker?

When you find out they don’t, let them know how to subscribe to NSAC News and find the Abuse Tracker so they can better converse with you on the topic.

Let them know they can’t have a real conversation with you until you know you are talking with people who have knowledge – broad and open minded knowledge, — not edited knowledge that serves to protect the diocese and re-victimize survivors and their families and the families of those who committed suicide. Victim Assistance Co-ordinators should search everywhere for the truth.

In tribute to John Wojnowski, we begin this new year with the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and we challenge our readers with them:

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” -Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

Welcome to 2013.

The day, the hour, the year is upon us. Let us seize the days for they will not come again.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, NSAC


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