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November 14, 2012

Deaf, Dumb and Blind

A star is rising in the East.

That would be Australia where Prime Minister Julie Gillard announced this week a royal commission would investigate sexual abuse and the institutional response to it.

She said the royal commission, the highest level of investigation in Australia, was not targeting any one church but you’d have to be deaf, dumb, blind and dead not to realize the trigger for this monumental action was the series of revelations regarding pedophile priests in the Catholic Church.

In making the announcement, the prime minister, Ms Gillard said: “There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil. I believe in these circumstances that it is appropriate for there to be a national response through a royal commission.”

Senior Police Office Peter Fox said in a letter to the New South Wales state Premier Barry O’Farrell, “I can testify from my own experience that the church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the Church.”

Predictably, the ranking prelate in Australia, Cardinal George Pell said the Church had already acknowledged its “shame”, the extent of abuse by priests had been “exaggerated” by the media and by the “percentages” the number of child preying priests in the Church would prove that priests of the Roman Catholic Church would not be the only culprits among the members of the churches, charities and schools to be investigated.

First, great credit goes to the bravery of the victims who have come forward. Without them it’s unimaginable that this day would have dawned.

How harrowing will be the truth the commission will uncover time will inform us but there are allegations in the State of Victoria that the abuse in institutions there included gang rapes, beating and unreported deaths.

Thankfully no deadline has been placed on the commission’s work.

We sharply contrast this development in Australia along with the deaf, dumb and blind act now on stage at the United States Conference of Bishops’ meeting in Baltimore.

That would be deaf, dumb and blind to the presence of criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Finn is convicted of not reporting, as a mandatory reporter in Missouri, suspicion or knowledge of the child pornography activities of his priest Father Shawn Ratigan.

Not one bishop has raised a public comment, let alone placed a resolution before the USCCB to remove Bishop Finn from the premises, bar him from any future meeting of the USCCB, call for his resignation or lobby Pope Benedict to replace him.

The creator of the petition, which has garnered nearly 109,000 signatures from rank and file Catholics, Jeff Weis of Kansas City, was scheduled to try and deliver the petition yesterday at the location where the bishops are meeting.

We salute Mr. Weis for creating the petition, working to have knowledge of it spread, and for taking the time off from work to travel to Baltimore to place it as close to the bishops’ faces as he could get it.

We suspect that was the length of a hotel lobby and a hotel ballroom away from the men who could if they wanted to take the honorable course and fraternally correct their brother bishop and then the giant loophole in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that opens an enormous escape hatch for bishops.

What bishops need is the courage of victims.

—- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC), KristineWard@hotmail.com

October 29, 2012

Full Stop?

The Pope’s butler has begun serving an 18 month sentence which will consist of being in a small cell in the Vatican police headquarters “during the day.” No mention of where he’ll be at night.

The Vatican statement about the verdict said, “it puts a full stop to the end of a sad affair which has had very painful consequences.”

Here’s the link: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=16043

Interesting phrase the Vatican Secretariat of State chose for the statement – “full stop”.

When is the Vatican scheduling a “full stop” on the sexual predators among its clergy and nuns and the bishops, diocesan job holders, cardinals, curial officials, and popes who covered up the abuse?

The roadmap to that full stop should begin in Kansas City, Missouri where the criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn remains in office – and then continue on a world wide arc to Australia where the truth is being uncovered by a government inquiry, then careen back to Ireland, Belgium, and Canada before circling the United States again as victims have to battle and re-battle their way through the bankruptcy settlement in Milwaukee.

The consequences of the loss of papers from any Pope’s desk cannot in any way rise to the magnitude of what survivors, their families and the families of those who committed suicide live with day in and day out as the result of the gut wrenching horrors of the stealing of normal childhoods and the savage ripping at the ability to live normal, regular or extraordinary lives.

In the Vatileaks case, the full stop is really more of a slamming the lid on Vatican intrigue where the battling factions had to have agreed that it got a bit too public and pulled back – but not before throwing the butler to the lions to appease the crowd.

The full stop day for the largest crisis in the Church in 500 years will only come when the Vatican is inclined to put its muscle, its trials, its verdicts, its removals, and its imprisonments where its Scriptures are.

So far, it appears to be trying on the name WeaklingCity.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC, KristineWard@hotmail.com

October 19, 2012

The Boy Scout Files

The Boy Scouts of America, on order of the Oregon Supreme Court, yesterday released over 15,000 pages of files detailing child sexual abuse by scoutmasters and other volunteers from 1959 through 1985.

The pattern that is revealed is the same as that within the Roman Catholic Church and at PennState.

Our question is: will the response be the same or will there finally be an uprising of men and women of goodwill that will protect children and provide access to justice for survivors?

Don’t children matter?

If members of a religious organization that was proclaimed a moral pillar of the planet can’t lead in this fight to protect the innocent, guard the vulnerable and say and mean enough is enough can society in general?

We applaud and join in Road to Recovery’s call for a federal investigation into the criminality of the acts by adults who were in positions of trust in the Boy Scouts.

We applaud and join in Professor Marci Hamilton’s call for a renewed examination of statutes of limitations through the country regarding sexual abuse of children and their extension to provide protection and justice.

We applaud and support SNAP’s direct words, “The simple truth is that lofty words by Scout executives are merely that: words. We encourage Scouting families to hold out for real change, not superficial public relations moves. When it comes to kids’ safety, we urge Scouting families to be skeptical, not trusting, and vigilant, not complacent. “

Opportunity has knocked again – thanks to the courage of Kerry Lewis and five other survivors who brought legal action.

Can we match their courage this time and grab at opportunity holding on for dear life and actually getting the change that children deserve?

Or once again will there be a few days of interest while the news stories run and complacency will, at least in conversation, take a short vacation but then quickly comes home and unpack?

Exercise is needed, necessary and important to our lives the experts tell us.

Well, let’s get off our duffs and make sure children are protected.

How many more reports are we waiting for?

You can find us at our webblog:

NationalSurvivorAdvocatesCoalition.wordpress.com

Road to Recovery’s at: road-to-recovery.org

SNAP’s at : snapnetwork.org

Please connect.

Children are depending on it.

The child being targeted today, the child suffering in tormented silence today, the child considering ending his or her life today because of sexual abuse could be your son or daughter, your grandson or granddaughter, your niece, nephew, or the kid next door.

Don’t they mean something to you?

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC, KristineWard@hotmail.com

October 18, 2012

It’s a Puzzlement

There has been a growing number of news stories in recent days about the Vatican naming a coadjutor bishop for the Diocese of Armagh in the Republic of Ireland –a bella figura approach to packing the Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady off into retirement for his role in the sexual abuse scandal.

Here’s a link to one of those stories: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/head-of-catholic-church-in-ireland-brady-to-be-replaced-in-wake-of-abuse-scandal-16224378.html

There have been no news stories about the possibility of the Vatican removing Robert Finn, the criminally convicted Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Missouri.

It’s a puzzlement.

There was news last week that Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of a bishop in Chile, Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez of Iquique, following the allegation that the bishop had sexually abused a minor.

There were no news stories last week that Bishop Finn had tendered a resignation for the Vatican to accept.

It’s a puzzlement.

At the Synod on the New Evangelization which opened last week at the Vatican, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, made a vague reference to the sexual abuse scandal in his opening remarks as the relator, the conductor, if you will, for the Synod and when asked at a press conference if the church would address the scandal as a major nexus point that has alienated Catholics, the Cardinal clothed himself in vagueness again saying, “The church is always called to reflect on herself. Every member of the church is called to ask, ‘Am I living out the faith to the fullest?'”

Here’s the link:

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1204225.htm

Bishop Brian J. Dunn of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, did speak out at the Synod telling his brother bishops point blank that any new evangelization must address the scandal.

The link: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1204314.htm

After the Synod fathers heard Bishop Dunn’s appeal, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, said at a press conference that “ The church is not afraid to admit its own mistakes.”

Hold on to your hats. Think he was speaking about the crisis?

Nope.

He was speaking about the late fifteenth century, early sixteenth century Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI of medieval and television fame.

As the church in Milwaukee fights tooth and nail in and after the collapse of bankruptcy settlement talks, most likely among other things to keep the record of the Dolan years in regard to the handling of sexual abuse under lock and key, Dolan comes clean to the world about a five centuries dead pope’s lovers. Not only did he have one lover, Dolan informs us, but he had many. Hadn’t you been wondering?

The jokes abounded but the Cardinal who is scheduled to preside over the Al Smith Dinner with both US Presidential candidates in attendance on Thursday evening in New York, couldn’t get himself to the gravitas of his Canadian brother bishop’s call to match up reality with new evangelization.

Here’s the link: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/homepage/the-vatican/detail/articolo/18950/

It’s a puzzlement

Then again, maybe not.

To borrow another line from the “King and I” it’s “ Et cetera, Et cetera, Et cetera.”

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), KristineWard@hotmail.com

October 10, 2012

Editorial

The Sentencing of Jerry Sandusky

Yesterday helped.

The sentencing of former PennState assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and its accompanying media coverage sharpen the focus of the criminality of sexual abuse and its consequences for society at large.

Nothing returns a sexual abuse victim’s normal childhood and for their testimonies about what was so viciously and cruelly taken from them, the survivors of Jerry Sandusky deserves everyone’s gratitude for their courage.

Justice has been served but no one should believe that this solves the problem of sexual abuse in sports – or in the Roman Catholic Church and other denominations – or in the Boy Scouts. Secretive, powerful, hero worship laden organizations are fertile ground for perpetrators.

Children are protected only when strong, clear messages, like the Sandusky sentence, are sent. Then and only then will those who have been raped and sodomized feel that there will be more comfort than censure from the world if they do find the strength to come forward.

The sentencing, coincidentally but appropriately, set in the midst of the college football season is a time for all of us to resolve once again to protect children and provide access to justice for all victims of child sexual abuse – no matter the age when they make public, in small or large forums, the burdens and scars they bear.

That means in Pennsylvania and throughout the country statutes of limitations must be extended and windows must be offered for access to justice for those for whom the current statutes have passed.

That means the major opponents of this kind of legislation, Roman Catholic bishops, should use their throne chairs to sit these battles out instead of coming out swinging with every bit of ammunition in their arsenals and then some.

The Sandusky sentencing should place in clear relief the cowardly duck, deflect and dodge that continues to be the business as usual approach for the Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph Robert Finn – and his silent and impotent brother bishops, including Pope Benedict.

Criminally convicted Bishop Finn, who failed in his civilly mandated duty to report suspicion or knowledge of child pornography by one of his priests, remains in office.

His brother bishops are silent about it.

His Pope does nothing.

Had the Church acted more forcefully to shield the children and not the perpetrators in the Boston eruption of the scandal it is possible that some of the Sandusky victims could have been spared their lifelong horrors.

There is consequence when institutions do right and when institutions do wrong.

One day of justice does not the right world make.

But one day of justice lightens the darkness.

— Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair, KristineWard@hotmail.com

Teenage boys seduced priests who abused them in Father Benedict Groeschel’s opinion. He gave that opinion in an interview with the National Catholic Register. http://abcnews.go.com/US/catholic-priest-rev-benedict-groeschel-defends-child-sex/story?id=17114892

Even when the newspaper questioned his comments, he went to say that it was “an understandable thing.”

The facts remain: teenage boys are teenage boys, priests are adults – or at least they should be.

That’s not the approach Groeschel is taking. He’s positing an out for priests who sexually abuse minors.

The sad part of this is that there are many Catholics who will grab onto this reasoning and run with it because Father Groeschel said it. Groeschel is the director of the Office of Spiritual Development of the New York Archdiocese and the host of a weekly show on the television network EWTN. In addition, he has a doctorate in psychology.

This kind of thinking is what survivors are up against and it’s terrible.

Catholics: please juxtapose this thinking against the chest barrel roar of hierarchs who insist that the Roman Catholic Church is leading in the fight against the sexual abuse of children.

We have to ask how anyone who not only thinks this way but publicly speaks this way is qualified to remain the director of the Office of Spiritual Development of the Archdiocese of New York.

Between conventions, we hope Cardinal Timothy Dolan addresses this issue with firmness and the removal of Father Groeschel from this post in the Archdiocese. Disassociation by the Archdiocese of New York from Groeschel’s remarks is far from enough.

Enough is enough.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

August 7, 2012

Editorial

Sisters: Open the Doors

We know the 900 Sister leaders representing 320 religious communities at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) have a full plate for their meetings that begin today in St. Louis.

We don’t think anything on the plate should keep the Sisters from opening the door to the survivors that will be outside the hotel where they are meeting.

The Sisters are made of strong stuff. Plenty of Catholics have attested to that in the public discussions in both the religious and secular news media regarding the Vatican and the Sisters, before, during and after the recent Nuns Bus Tour, as well as in multitudes of private conversations.

We are not saying that the support is not justified.

We are saying that the Sisters, to date, have chosen the Bishops’ route for the most part in dealing with sexual abuse by their members: silence and lawyering up.

We are also saying that we heartily encourage the Sisters to view the terrain of the way they have been treated by Bishops and the Vatican to see the common ground they share with survivors. The prism of pain can have redemptive value.

Yes, there are individual Sisters who have and continue to stand with the survivors but they are few in number compared to the whole.

The survivors are not kicking the Sisters while they are down. The survivors have been outside of the LCWR meetings for eight years seeking an open door to address this leadership group about the sexual abuse by their members of the communities they represent.

If the Sisters are pressed for time at this meeting, we’d like to be the first to suggest that the time already scheduled on their collective agenda to discuss the Sisters educating the public on human trafficking be re-directed to allow the survivors to speak.

The discussion of this issue should not be an either or for Catholics: either you support the Sisters without question or you don’t. The sexual abuse of children entrusted to the care of adults, most especially adults in positions of respect and religious authority, is an issue that cannot be judged as less important, unspoken or put in a wait for the proper time column because the Sisters are under fire.

Indeed, by the very fact that they are under fire comes the possibility of the phoenix moment.

The opportunity for reaching out, comforting the afflicted, caring for the vulnerable, seeking the lost, magnifying the cry for justice, walking with those who suffer, righting wrongs, resurrection, redemption, honesty, and firm purpose of amendment.

The very things many Catholics believed they learned from the Sisters by both word and deed.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308

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The Sanctions

July 24, 2012

The NCAA decision is in on Penn State.

In money, the fine is tallied at $60 million compounded by the four year loss of bowl game revenue, plus the penalties of a four year ban on any post season play, significant loss of scholarships, and a five year probation and the stripping of 12 years of wins off of Joe Paterno’s record.

There is and will continue to be debate over whether the penalty is harsh enough, too harsh or not within the NCAA’s purview to levy.

But we believe it is important to say that this event may, and we emphasize may, in cautiously optimistic terms be looked back upon as the end of the beginning – the beginning of an igniting of a societal serious, real life, widespread effort at effectively coming to terms with the sexual abuse of children and the recognition of the inherent spawning grounds for it in institutions where immense power can reside unchecked and unchallenged.

The fact that this turn of events has as its pivot point in a state educational institution further damningly indicts the Catholic Church which took and continues to take a premeditated pass on the handling of the very same abuses: rape and sodomy of children by its appointed and anointed.

The Greek tragedy of Penn State is that this was the very program whose canopy was the slogan “Success with Honor.”

The NCAA has mandated that the $60 million fine go to an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse.

We raise our voice loudly here to call upon the NCAA to follow through on this mandate.

$60 million can be frittered away as easily in some circles as a $1 bill in most circles.

The assisting of victims in Pennsylvania can begin with the money to combat the muscled arm of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (aka the bishops) in the fight to pass the statute of limitations legislation.

The full force and influence of the universities of the Big Ten should be called into this arena to drive a symposium seeking the utmost in excellence both for prevention of child sexual abuse and assistance for victims.

This is not accomplished by writing a mandate.

This is accomplished by serious, dedicated, wide circle of disciplines cooperation – and strong and effective oversight.

We raise our voice loudly to call upon the NCAA to look seriously at – not in benign neglect or lack of reports look away from – the other Big Ten schools.

The Sandusky case is not a phenomenon of Penn State.

As with the Archdiocese of Boston, there was nothing in the baked beans or the waters of the Charles River in Boston that made it unique from other dioceses in regard to the sexual abuse of children, so in the Big Ten, the culture does not exist solely at a large university in a small college town in the middle of the state.

Penn State, it must be said, accepted the Freeh Report and has accepted the NCAA sanctions.

The Bishops of the Catholic Church got rid of the messengers who brought them and their Church the truth: the first National Review Board that had the guts to get in the bishops’ faces with grit, were unceremoniously shown the door and replaced with wave upon wave of intentional mediocrity.

The NCAA mandated Penn State accept the appointment of an Athletics Integrity Monitor.

Where do Catholics go to get an Integrity Monitor?

— Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, Chair, Kristineward@hotmail.com

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July 13, 2012

Editorial

Freeh-ed

There are days when the avalanche is made not of snow but of clay feet.

Such was the day Thursday when Louis Freeh and his law firm, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP, delivered their independent report of the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State. [ Freeh Press Release ] Freeh Report

The 267 page report was the result of an eight month independent investigation and it was delivered a month to the day that former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of the sexual abuse of children.

In it, our readers will find the top leadership at Penn State: the legendary and nearly god-like Joe Paterno, university president, Graham Spanier, both of whom were fired when the scandal broke, and the two vice presidents who face criminal charges, – all as Freeh describes it “had a callous and shocking disregard for child victims.”

Beyond that, the report says, by their lack of action against Sandusky and by allowing empowered him to abuse children.

The similarities between what happened at Penn State and what happened in the Catholic Church are identical twins.

The report reveals:

  • the desire to avoid bad publicity
  • the failure to make inquiries
  • a president who discouraged dissent and discussion
  • a lack of awareness of child abuse policies and whistleblower policies and protections
  • the decision by Paterno, Spanier, Curley and Schmitz (the two vice presidents) to allow Sandusky to retire, not as a suspected child abuser but as a valued member of Penn State football with continuing ties and continuing access to its facilities
  • a culture of reverence for the football program that is ingrained at all levels of the campus community

With all that, still there is the clear, sharp, outstanding fact that when faced with the scandal breaking into public knowledge because of tenacious news media reporting and a grand jury, Penn State fired Paterno and Spanier.

That separates in a damning way the Catholic Church from Penn State.

Beyond that, it must be said, Penn State, unlike the Catholic Church, commissioned an independent investigation.

The Church’s mitered leaders, make no mistake about it, will take to pulpits and house organ newspapers along with their high priced spin patrol and will point to Penn State as “it’s happens everywhere, therefore get off our backs” language while coming nearly crippled in reaching to collectively pat their own backs.

There should not be one iota of slippage from the heat that needs to be kept on this institution which has a huge sign out that it is a moral pillar of the plant.

This institution, the Roman Catholic Church, proclaims to be pro-life. Let it begin to show us how it will be pro-life in its protection of children from the horrors of sexual predators in its ranks.

Let it begin to show us how it will be the breakout counter cultural leader shunning against all odds, and at all personal costs, the protection of its own when its own commits criminal acts. Let it begin with Bishop Robert Finn in the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.

Let it show us this by being the first to drop its opposition and lead the fight for the passage of the bills in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would protect children and provide access to justice for survivors of sexual abuse.

The pressure must be kept on at Penn State and not be allowed to fade with the Summer’s end and the desire to “put it behind us.” Nothing gets puts behind a victim. We must all remember the life long damage that child sexual abuse produces. The pressure must be kept on by those who love this university the most. Those for whom the alma mater’s phrase, “let no act of ours bring shame” must resonant with full throttle now.

Those who remain in the pews of the Roman Catholic Church, along with those who remain in the bleachers of Beaver Stadium must stand now with integrity or pull the mask of cowardice down across their faces.

Clay can be fired into a pottery of beauty.

Let that beauty be the protection of children.

If we are all not Freeh-ed, if we all do not stand and take collective responsibility for what has happened in our religious institutions and in our universities, then we are nothing but tinkling brass and clanging cymbals, out only for a pleasant community experience that’s a prelude to Sunday morning breakfast or a shouting good time on an Autumn afternoon.

Surely we’ve been educated and catechized for higher things.

— Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, Chair, Kristineward@hotmail.com

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July 3, 2012

Editorial

Simple Human Decency

These days at the Vatican are about like the last days of a US Supreme Court session, lots of things come tumbling out in rapid succession.

In the Vatican’s dash to head for the hills, literally, for cooler weather, the announcement was made of the new head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He is Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller. He is German. He is the Bishop of Regensburg in Bavaria. He is the editor of the 16 volume work in progress “Complete Works of Joseph Ratzinger. He’s had, according to news reports, a long standing friendship with Gustavo Guttierez, the Peruvian Dominican who is the founder of the Liberation Theology movement.

But we think the most significant thing about him is that when he had the chance to protect children and deal directly and forthrightly with a parish and everyone else, he chose to reinstate a priest, Peter Kramer, in 2004 after Kramer’s conviction in 2000 for sexual abuse.

This is the ranking Vatican official who will be dealings with sexual abuse cases.

We believe his actions when he faced the decision about how to handle an abuser should clearly be in the forefront of how the whole Church looks at this appointment.

We ask our readers, all Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to juxtapose the Church’s statements – in the persons of the Pope, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, heads of Bishops Conferences, and heads of the National Review Board, — against reality.

This specific reality of a Bishop- who automatically became an Archbishop with today’s announcement – lets us know that within the last eight (8) years – not decades, years, — the protection of the priest perpetrator trumped the protection of children. This doesn’t even appear to be any evidence of a skirmish, let alone of struggle, of conscience.

What would cause this man to act differently when he assumes high office?

Nothing, short of a road to Damascus experience – which in his line of work is still possible.

But short of that, we believe it is incumbent upon the supporters of survivors, not to go gently into the good night of this appointment and thereby giving silent approval, or implicit resignation that resistant is futile, or worse, impolite in the face of papal appointment.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith affects the whole Church. The person who heads it is significant to the whole Church.

We believe one of the concentrated groups of people who should speak out loudly, intelligently, with wisdom but also with indignation are the nuns.

This man is the mountain unto whom they current cause is lashed.

If not for the purest of motives – those of the unbending staking of the ground that all innocent and vulnerable life must be protected including unknowing children and their parents upon whom is forced a sexual predator as a leader — then at least for the enlightened self interest one of taking the offensive against the newest sheriff in town.

Besides the nuns themselves, we believe their supporters, — those along the roadsides and in the lecture halls, the community rooms, and the small personal gatherings of the Nuns on The Bus Tour – should be in the thick of this, too.

For indeed, the Pope can act decisively and swiftly against any bishop when he puts his mind to it.

Case in point, the unceremonious removal that was also part of the great Summer leavetaking at the Vatican.

Robert Bezak, Archbishop of Trnava, Slovakia, was removed from his position. No reason given.

The same thing should happen to bishops who reinstate convicted priest perpetrators.

Simple human decency should be the wording under the calligraphy of reason.

— Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, Chair, Kristineward@hotmail.com

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June 29, 2012

Editorial

Freedom to Do What?

As the Catholic hierarchy calls its faithful followers in the United States to get down on their collective knees in prayer for the preservation of religious liberty, we believe the hierarchy owes its adherents a clear explanation as to why it allows convicted felons to retain the ranking of priest.

Monsignor William Lynn was convicted last Friday in Philadelphia on the felony charge of endangering children.

Father Gerald Robinson was convicted in Toledo, Ohio in 2006 of the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl.

It was left to the survivors once again to raise the issue of justice, of a seamless garment of words matching actions, of simple reason.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote to Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia yesterday urging him to begin laicization proceedings against Lynn. SNAP letter

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s statement released after the guilty verdict made no mention of removing Lynn from the priesthood. So far, nothing more has been forthcoming from the Archbishop regarding Monsignor Lynn’s status.

This is the language the Catholic hierarchy is using to rally the faithful in the current campaign called the “Fortnight of Freedom”:

“As Catholics we are constantly called to live out our faith in our daily lives. In our charities, we comfort the sick, feed the hungry, care for the poor, and protect life. In the marketplace, our values guide us. We strive everywhere to practice what we preach.

Across America, our right to live out our faith is being threatened – from Washington forcing Catholic institutions to provide services that contradict our beliefs, to state governments prohibiting our charities from serving the most vulnerable. And around the world, it’s even worse – Catholics face persecution and even death for their witness.

These rights are fundamental. They belong to each and every human being. We cannot let them be trampled. We cannot remain silent.

The Church’s values, however, are not guiding it in the case of either Monsignor Lynn or Father Robinson – and the Church is remaining silent to its members and the world when it does not revoke the privilege of priesthood when the essence of priesthood is violated.

Apologists for the Bishops who have not moved to file for laicization for either of these priests — or given any indication they will or should — will come up with tortured explanations of how the canon law does not speak to these circumstances.

Please. – What good is a Church’s law, and what honor does it deserve, when it cannot speak to decency and common sense and quite simply to the Savior’s values of ‘to whom much is given, much is expected.”

In the current case of Monsignor Lynn and his priesthood status, we believe the decision reflects more against the looming case of Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City, MO than any language in the canon law.

Archbishop Chaput should begin laicization proceedings against Monsignor Lynn without delay and Toledo’s Bishop Blair should do the same in regard to Father Robinson – with a huge apology to his people about his six (6) years of lapsed conscience.

Catholics in the pews bear responsibility for the words and actions of the Church in the public square matching up. This is an issue of critical credibility to all Catholics — no matter how they label themselves or how they are labeled by others.

If there is not enough spine in Catholics to ask, let alone demand, that hierarchs take laicization actions against convicted felons, when the fireworks of the Fortnight of Freedom fade on the Fourth of July and Catholics are sized up by their fellow citizens, the question that will prevail is: in the name of religion, liberty to do what?

— Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

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Special Edition
June 23, 2012

Editorial

The Summer of Our Discontent

We arrive on this beginning of Summer Friday at a critical nexus for survivors of sexual abuse.

First, our thoughts go to the brave, dignified, and courageous survivors who testified and who have spoken out in interviews in the Penn State former coach Jerry Sandusky case which has gone to the jury amidst a report that an adopted son of Sandusky was willing to testify for the prosecution.

After nearly two weeks of deliberations, the jury in the Philadelphia case of Monsignor William Lynn, returned a verdict of endangerment of children.

Juxtaposed to these two major cases is the downbeat of dueling campaigns: the Bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom” and the Nuns Bus Tour.

Playing out against these backdrops this weekend and next in baskets in parishes across the depth and breadth of the United State is the Peter Pence collection.

Far from being the start of a lighthearted, breezy, relaxing season this days are fraught with minefields of emotional peaks and valleys for survivors and their families as well as all Catholics – in the pew or not.

In the midst of what may at times seem like cacophony we ask NSAC readers and all whom they may influence, knowing or unknowingly, to consider and re-consider what’s actually happening in these days.

The Bishops’ campaign of a Fortnight for Freedom carries, we believe an irony akin to the torturer’s rack for survivors of sexual abuse and their families, and the families of those who committed suicide.

What the Bishops are trying to drive home is that they are riding white horses for a fundamental right in the United States: freedom to practice religion without interference.

But this fundamental and primal right of being able to enjoy the comfort and connection of religious and spiritual belief, passed down and cherished in family and community life, sanctifying life stages in and through it, and the desire to hand it on with reverence to the next generation is exactly what perpetrator priests and cover-up hierarchy and abusing religious sisters and cover-up leaders of their congregations violently stole and steal from innocent children – even into adulthood – by rape and sodomy and cover-up.

We believe this should not go unsaid in a 14 day hoopla and counter hoopla of prayer, rallies, petition and fireworks of the verbal kind.

In the same vein, even though we know in this current climate of sides formed up with religious sisters versus the Vatican that many see only black and white, we believe that the inconvenient truth of abuse by religious sisters and cover-up by leaders of congregations who lawyer up just as Bishops did and do has remain as part of the religion in the public square discussion in these days as well as fundamentally part of the debate among Catholics.

There is opportunity today for the sisters, as there has always been and remains for Bishops to dig down into the real grit of what Catholicism is and to do the right thing, act justly and indeed walk humbly with their God.

Money talks in the Catholic Church in good and unfortunately evil ways.

We urge Catholics to talk loudly through the Peter Pence collection by putting an empty envelope in the collection basket with a written message that the money that would have been given to the Pope for use at his discretion has been given to survivor organizations.

We know that there are major campaigns afoot to redirect the money to the sisters to send the Vatican a message but we reiterate our urging: redirect the money to survivor organizations.

We urge this because we strongly believe that no real reform can come to the Church by leapfrogging over the issue of sexual abuse in the vain hope that gains in some other area of reform will be the silver bullet, the magic opening of a door, an unnoticed side door entry into the halls of power, or the real solution to the protection of children and justice for the survivors.

There is no substitute, no end run, no parallel ramming of the Vatican walls for the protection of children and justice for the survivors no matter who their perpetrators are or have been: men or women in positions of authority in the Church and the ranking personnel who built, fortified and continue to prop up the walls of protection.

Peter’s Pence has been and continues to be much, much more that a little pack of pennies dispensed in charity.

There can be power in a punch to Peter’s Pence.

But there has to be conviction about where ground zero really is.

—- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition NSAC, Kristineward@hotmail.com

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http://www.americancatholic.org/samo/Feature.aspx?articleid=95&IssueID=37

Survivors Speak

By Rachel Zawila

It’s the summer of 2002. Ginny Hoehne is sitting in a hotel lobby in Charleston, South Carolina, her family milling about nearby, waiting for the police. Having their car stolen was not on the vacation itinerary.

Now all they can do is wait. And watch the hotel TV, which airs a meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops in Dallas regarding the Church’s sex-abuse scandal. Ever since the Boston Globe published its expansive investigative report into the matter in January, the media coverage has been seemingly nonstop. By now for most people, a passing glance would suffice, but Hoehne’s eyes remain fixed on the screen.

Hope Come and Gone

Hoehne’s son David was twelve when he was sexually assaulted by his parish priest in the early 1980s. Their house was just across the parking lot from the church in Fort Loramie, Ohio, and the family shared a neighborly rapport with the priests. “Unfortunately, our son was taken advantage of because of that,” she says.

She and her husband, Larry, didn’t learn of the abuse until more than a decade later, however, when David came to them in 1995. Their son’s secret then became their own, as David begged his parents to stay silent. “He was just so emotionally fragile that there wasn’t too much we could do,” Hoehne recalls.

In March 2002, David was ready to go public. He wrote a letter to then-Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and the district attorney, outlining what had happened. The priest admitted to the abuse and was permanently removed from ministry, according to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Three months later, the Hoehnes watched as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Dallas Charter, as it is commonly referred to, provides guidelines and instructions for bishops to follow in cases of clergy sex abuse of minors. And for the moment, Hoehne was filled with hope that “these men actually meant what they said.”

The feeling was fleeting. After a meeting with Archbishop Pilarczyk in July, which Hoehne described as “standoffish and cold,” the Supreme Court of Ohio struck down David’s case against the archdiocese for having prior knowledge, citing he had filed the suit outside of the state’s statute of limitations. All hope was gone.

Burden Released

Peter Isely was also watching the Charter meeting unfold, not on TV, but from the sidewalk outside the bishops’ Dallas hotel. Like the Hoehnes, he had a vested interest: He, too, is a survivor.

Growing up in a devout Catholic family, Isely envisioned maybe becoming a priest himself. While at St. Lawrence, a seminary high school in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, he was assaulted by a priest from age thirteen to seventeen. Like David Hoehne, it took him more than a decade to publicly acknowledge it.

And publicly he did. After reading an opinion piece by Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in November 1992, in which the archbishop stated too much attention was being given to a priest sex-abuse case, Isely could stay silent no longer. His open-letter response to Archbishop Weakland ran on page 1 of the newspaper the following Sunday. In it, he shared his story, calling on the need for correction not only of offending priests, but also of the entire culture that allows such abuse to occur.

Since then, Isely has remained in the public eye. A cofounder of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), he now serves as its Midwest director in Milwaukee. Isely can be seen around the country, joining in protests, giving speeches, and meeting with bishops, cardinals, and priests. He did all three in Dallas, and like the Hoehnes, he was initially hopeful at what he saw.

“When we went into Dallas, those of us who were survivors and all of us who have worked on this saw it as an unprecedented opportunity,” he says.

Although the Boston Globe report brought the clergy sex-abuse crisis into the limelight, many laypeople and those of the Church were aware of the situation before 2002. “This had really been twenty-five years of struggling with this,” Isely says. “So by the time the meeting happened, I thought that there’s so much information coming out now about the abuse. . . . [It was] a huge relief as a survivor, because it’s no longer depending on you and your story and your witness and testimony. It no longer matters if someone believes you or not, because now these are the words of the bishops and the officials themselves,” he says of the Charter. “That was an enormous relief for a lot of us and an enormous validation.”

Memories Reclaimed

Janet Clark only gave a passing glance to the Dallas coverage. At the time, it held little meaning. Although she was sexually assaulted by a priest in Cedar Falls, Iowa, at age twenty, the only way she could survive that 1979 event was to forget.

The repressed memories didn’t return for twenty-seven years, until she began to write a novel, Blind Faith, in 2006, in which the main character was sexually abused by a priest and later became an abuser himself. As Clark wrote, she remembered, and “I finally got to the point where I wanted to know,” she says.

Clark pursued legal claims against the Archdiocese of Dubuque. Through the process, she discovered her perpetrator showed a pattern of abuse as he went in and out of treatment centers. Had she gone to the Church first, she believes she would have never known the truth. “The hierarchy knows all about these situations,” she says, but “they really don’t care.”

Actions Speak Louder

The Charter marked almost two decades of the Church’s acknowledgment of the abuse allegations (see sidebar). For many survivors, and their friends and family, however, it is not enough. Action needs to replace words, many say.

“The Charter is a weak document,” says Kristine Ward, chair of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition, based in Dayton, Ohio. “It needs more than pretty words. It should never have taken the white heat of media publicity to get any kind of action out of the bishops. They knew much, much earlier [than 2002], and in the privacy of their offices and their chapels they had plenty of time to address this situation. They should have been as horrified as Catholics were when they found out this was happening.”

One of the Charter’s most basic flaws, according to Ward, is its lack of accountability for bishops. “It includes no penalties for bishops who do not comply with it,” she says. Although the Charter mandates that all bishops report allegations of sex abuse in all instances, “there is nothing that talks about discipline” if they don’t.

External accountability was addressed in the Charter in the form of diocesan review boards and annual audits, but the bishops still hold too much power in these areas, say Ward and Isely. The auditors of each diocese are only able to work with information the bishop discloses to them, so “there is no way for the people on the audit committee to know if they are getting all of the information,” says Ward. “And that seems a bit disingenuous.”

Although the Charter called for each diocese to form a review board that required layperson participation, it did not provide guidelines for its particular setup. Therefore, each bishop establishes his board and its proceedings as he sees fit. He decides which cases the board will review and with what information. “That’s been the problem,” says Isely. “It actually reinforces the bishop’s authority in this regard to make this determination.”

Isely says with this authority, in some cases the bishops have simply retired offending priests rather than sending them through the review process. “They don’t let us know who they are,” he says of the perpetrators. “They’re removed from ministry, but we don’t know it.”

Timed Removal

The USCCB adopted a “zero tolerance” approach to abuse: any priest or deacon found guilty for one act of abuse is removed from ministry immediately. For Isely, this change in Church law represented a significant step forward. “That was an unprecedented and historic change,” he says. “It’s very hard to change any institution, much less the Roman Catholic Church, and yet the one group that has succeeded in some way in doing it is survivors. I think that’s an amazing testimony to their endurance and their love and concern for this not happening to any other children.”

Isely was encouraged by the step, but he says the Church now needs to lengthen its stride. Even though an offending priest or deacon is removed from ministry, according to canon law, he still remains a priest: once validly ordained, a priest’s ordination never becomes invalid. Isely has a problem with that. “Being removed from the public ministry is not sufficient in my mind,” he says. “If it’s confirmed it happened, you’re removed from the priesthood. Period.”

A priest or deacon’s removal from ministry, according to Church law, is valid only if a provable offense is brought to the attention of Church authorities before the victim’s twenty-eighth birthday. Anything from a victim after that age, and the Church’s statute of limitations applies, and the priest cannot be dismissed or judicially penalized for a provable offense. Further, each state has its own statute of limitations those who have been abused must abide by.

Ward, too, has a problem with that. “One of the main things that’s been learned in the crisis is how long it takes for a survivor to get to a place in his or her life where they will become public,” she says. “That can take until their forties, fifties . . . eighties. The length of time for which a survivor can come forward needs to be extended.”

Clark knows. It took her more than twenty years to come to terms with her abuse. “We need to get rid of the statute of limitations completely . . . for it often takes years for a child to feel safe enough to tell someone, and by then it’s too late to hold the offender accountable,” she says in her blog “Break the Silence.”

Ward emphasizes that this is not a financial matter. “There is a tendency to say it is all about money, and it is not,” she says. “Survivors are the first to tell you that they are the ones who went to bishops and said, ‘We just want this to stop; we don’t want this to happen to another child.’ But that didn’t stop it. And the only recourse then to make it public or to get the perpetrator’s name known so other children would be protected was to sue.”

Faith Betrayed

Fighting a public struggle is not the only battle survivors face. For many, an internal conflict of faith also wages on. Survivors “struggle mightily with their faith,” says Isely. “That’s a major element.”

For Clark, the abuse was too much for her Catholic faith to overcome. She now belongs to a Lutheran church in Rock Island, Illinois, with her husband. “The Church betrayed me,” she says. “I left my Catholic identity.”

David Hoehne also left the Catholic Church. Now living in Melbourne, Florida, he and his wife, Brenda, belong to a nondenominational church. “It’s very uplifting, and it’s where he needs to be now, with a joy-filled service,” says Ginny Hoehne, who herself remains in the faith. “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic,” she says, though she admits she doesn’t attend Mass regularly anymore. “I just can’t abide by the hypocrisy that is going on.”

And though she feels “the institution betrayed me, I am a more spiritual person now than I was back then,” she says. “It’s the institution, not the spirit of God, that I have let go of.”

“Even when victims are angry, you can hear their deep attachment to their spiritual homeland,” says Isely, including himself in the statement. “Many of us came from the most devout and loyal Catholic parents and families. That was given to me as a child before I even understood most of it. This truth was given to me, and I can’t betray it.”

Somehow, in this truth, Isely is able to commiserate with the bishops. “I think with the bishops, when I think the kindest about them, what they’re trying to do is that they are very concerned with altering anything within the structure and system, because they feel they might be altering the very mission and essence of what Christ left for them. And so it’s not just tinkering around with rules for them. I understand that. They’re trying to preserve a certain understanding and structuring of authority, which has resulted, I believe, in widespread and systematic abuse of children. They’re trying to preserve that, and yet deal with it, solve it. And that’s a really difficult thing to do.”

Conversation Started

Difficult, yes; impossible, no, says Hoehne, who thinks the Church needs to wipe the slate clean before change can occur. “They need to make a complete turnaround,” she says. “There’s going to have to be major changes and reconstruction. [They] keep putting icing on this cake, and the cake is getting moldier and moldier. [They’re] going to have to discard all of this and start anew. I really feel that is going to have to happen.”

Yet, according to Isely, “What we can do is try everything we can to create systems within the structure that is there right now. I still think reforms can go on—they have to—but there’s enough there now that came out of Dallas that I think you can see the results of the last ten years: how many priests have been arrested and convicted, how many of these documents have come out. There’s been enough within the Dallas Charter that has allowed for some extremely important things to occur.”

And it’s up to the laity to ensure things continue to occur, says Ward. “Catholics need to really come to grips with what has happened here,” she says. “They need to be vigilant. They need to have real accountability in their parishes and in their dioceses. And if they aren’t, they become complicit in what is happening and in the continued suffering of survivors. It’s through the courage of survivors that we know that this happened.”

“Take the blinders off, please,” says Clark. “Don’t have blind faith. Question authority. Speak the truth.”

“That’s what we need,” adds Hoehne: “thinking Catholics.”

The sex-abuse crisis is not over. Further investigations have revealed it is a worldwide problem, and the Church continues to meet and form measures to address the situation. “That we’re now talking about this as a global issue, that is a huge success,” says Isely; “that there’s a conversation about the Vatican and how authority is structured around this and what is happening. So at least that’s being talked about now; that’s where the conversation is. Even getting it there is something of a miracle.”

It’s been more than fifteen years in the making for Isely, but in many ways, he sees his work as only just beginning. “The conversations can’t stop. In fact, in many ways, they’re just getting started,” he says. “Change doesn’t come easily, or fast. But each conversation, each meeting is a step in the right direction.

“I’ll tell people I’ve been at this at least fifteen years, and we’ve made more progress in fifteen years than fifteen centuries. That’s true. Every year feels like a century. But at least we’re having the right conversation now.”

A conversation that likely won’t stop anytime soon.

A Charter Report Card

The Charter is a collection of four general promises to the public. Each promise includes specific actions for U.S. bishops to follow. An annual public report compiled from audits of each diocese documents their compliance with the promises, or lack thereof.

In her book Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002-2012, Kathleen L. McChesney, a former FBI executive who served as the first executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the U.S. bishops, grades the bishops on the effectiveness of their actions. Here is an excerpt:

Promise #1 To promote healing and reconciliation with victims/survivors of sexual abuse of minors Bishops’ Grade: B Many bishops have put forth substantial effort in terms of pastoral outreach, reporting allegations of abuse, establishing lay review boards, setting standards of ministerial behavior, and developing open and transparent means of communication, says McChesney. Others still need work.

Promise #2 To guarantee an effective response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors Bishops’ Grade: C+ According to McChesney, the bishops’ removal of priests has not beenas visible as it could be, though they have finally recognized that placing an allegation in the hands of a professional investigator is the best way to objectively examine a case.

Promise #3 To ensure the accountability of our procedures Bishops’ Grade: B To guide them on best practices and policies in preventing abuse, McChesney says the bishops wisely created the National Review Board and the Office of Child and Youth Protection (now the Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection), which oversees the annual Charter compliance audits of every diocese.

Promise #4 To protect the faithful in the future Bishops’ Grade: A The bishops have had the most success here, McChesney believes, through the creation of safe-environment programs, background evaluations, and procedures for transferring/relocating priests.

For the full report card, refer to Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002-2012 (see review; excerpted with permission).

The Church’s Response

The journey to the Dallas Charter was almost two decades long. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recognized the sexual-abuse crisis brewing in the 1980s. In 1984, it first focused on the issue by conducting research into the problem, which led some dioceses to develop policies on how to handle abuse cases. As new cases came to light, the bishops continued to discuss solutions. Action came in November 1992, when they recommended guidelines known as the “Five Action Principles.”

In June 1993, the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse was established to take proactive, consistent measures in addressing the problem. The committee issued a three-part public report, “Restoring Trust,” between November 1994 and 1996, in which it outlined treatment centers, addressed care and concern for victims, and provided research on various subjects related to abuse. The committee also provided educational opportunities for the bishops and researched ways for dealing with priest offenders.

Building on the “Five Action Principles,” the Ad Hoc Committee drafted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and a companion document, Essential Norms, which the bishops hurriedly passed in June 2002 and sent to the Vatican for approval.

Touted by some as the Church’s comprehensive response to the sex-abuse crisis, it has received mixed reviews from others.

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June 15, 2012

Editorial

A Whole New Twist on Mad Men

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry at the news out of Atlanta that the Bishops of the United States are going to spend the hard earned money of United States Catholics for an image makeover and an “always available” spokesperson.

We’re not kidding, here are the links:

Reuters – “Bishops Plan PR Campaign to Soften Image” LINK

Los Angeles Times – “Perhaps We Need Help with PR, Say Catholic Bishops in the US,” LINK

Does anything say counter cultural better than having your very own public relations guy or gal?

We imagine the logo behind the Bishops’ eternally on call presence at a podium will be “In PR We Trust” superimposed on a cathedral cupola edged in lace, of course.

“ We need someone who is going to be able to strategize this better for us,” said Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in Long Island, N.Y.

Drum roll, please for the understatement of the decade.

We’d agree that an extreme makeover is needed for men who have a banner out declaring they are the top dog teachers and preachers on morality and spirituality who for decades have deep-sixed documents on child sexual abuse, chose perpetrating priests’ futures over children’s, buck all attempts at legislative advances for the protection of children and justice for survivors and their families, collectively look the other way when a Bishop is charged with non-reporting.

But a perpetual spokesperson with an email blast of talking points isn’t going to get them out of the hole they have dug for themselves.

The Bishops are moving from one cover-up to another.

Thinking the slick glossy glow of Madison Avenue will buff them up is akin to hippopotamuses thinking they can fly if they just pay enough money to the flight instructor.

In the pew Catholics aren’t off the hook here. They need to remember whose paying the bill for this new spitting of spin.

The USCCB isn’t financed by the tooth fairy, or Glenda the Good Witch or the Loch Ness Monster.

The USCCB’s money comes from an assessment, actually a tax on dioceses. Dioceses get their money from assessing, actually taxing, parishes. Parishes get their money from what Catholics put in the collection baskets and the booths at the festival stands or send by direct deposit to the parish’s account.

Our advice: turn off the spigot.

—- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), KristineWard@hotmail.com

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June 13, 2012

Editorial

REALITY

The 10 year anniversary look at the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops (USCCB) Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is on the agenda for the Bishops’ June meeting which opens today in Atlanta.

We anticipate the Bishops will look upon their creation and see little that needs changed and they will announce the little with pats on their backs about how they are leaders in the fight against child sexual abuse, how the crisis is behind us, and how wrong and petty their critics are.

We urge our readers to listen to the announcement made by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Vicar General on Sunday about the removal of a pastor and an investigation into a charge of sexual abuse.Here is the link to both the audio and written text: LINK

Disturbed as we are by this announcement, we believe it is closer to the reality of where the Church, its hierarchy, its priests and its lay people, really are in regard to this continuing crisis than what will be portrayed in the business meeting and press conference of the USCCB’s meeting.

As you will hear or read in this announcement, the Vicar General reads a letter from the Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki, about the removal of a pastor, Father John Schreiter, at the parish, St. John Neumann in Waukesha, WI, where the Vicar General said a Mass on Sunday. The pastor was removed because of an allegation of sexual abuse and an investigation is underway regarding the allegation.

The Vicar General should have stopped at the end of the Archbishop’s letter.

But he didn’t.

He went on to say:

“ I want to make sure that we are clear on a couple of things, number one that there are many things we don’t know, and so if you want to ask me a whole lot of questions… an investigation is just beginning.

Second thing, second thing, the John that I know is a very good, fun loving and dedicated priest, and I think that you want to pray for him, and think of him in those terms, during this very difficult time.

Third thing, people will say why now, why not wait, you know in our society there are policies, and in our society if an accusation come against a policeman, a coach, a teacher, anybody, they are immediately placed on administrative leave, we have to follow the policies of our society. If we don’t we will pay for it, we will pay in the court of public opinion, you know that the victims have lawyers and you know they are watching us. You watch television; you see the kinds of things they say about the church on the courthouse steps. You don’t want that kind of antic to take place against you, we don’t want that.

How impartial an investigation does any reasonable person think can be conducted in this Archdiocese given the approach and the attitude of the Vicar General?

Vicar Generals are far from ordinary rank and file priests. It is from the ranks of Vicars General that short lists are made for candidates for the hierarchy.

This Vicar General is no neophyte in the priesthood. He says during his remarks that he like the pastor that has been removed is in the processing of retiring.

This Vicar General was not asked for his view of the situation in an unguarded moment by a reporter or a parishioner passing him on the street or coming down the church steps. This Vicar General’s purpose was to be at this parish last Sunday to announce what had happened to the parish pastor. The Vicar General’s comments are intentional.

It seems apparent to our listening ears that he does not fear any reproach from his bishop about his comments. Since Sunday there have been no reports of rebuke or admonition from the Archbishop.

The Vicar General did not tell the parishioners the pastor being removed and investigated was also investigated for an allegation made in 2004. After an investigation by the archdiocese, the archdiocese determined the allegation was unsubstantiated and the priest was returned to ministry. At the very least, a truly independent review of both allegations should be conducted.

Given what we have seen of the reaction of many priests and a good many people in the pews during the last 10 years, we believe the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is not alone in his approach or his attitude.

That’s the heavy sadness of this anniversary.

Bush league has become major league in the Church in American and more’s the pity.

In 10 years, most of the Church in America has failed to take in, absorb and act on the truth that we know only through the courage of the survivors of rape and sodomy by priests, brothers, and religious sisters.

If we had, Catholics would be unrelenting proponents of changes in statutes of limitations, windows for access to justice for victims for whom the limitations have passed, Bishops would have been forced to resign by the sheer moral indignation of Catholics that they had been hoodwinked by men who covered up and perpetuated criminal activity of the vilest kind against their children and grandchildren, survivors would have welcomed into all parishes to tell their stories, to heal and be healed, documents would have been turned over to law enforcement so that truth would emerge no matter the cost and justice would prevail, the educational and medical institutions of the Church would have moved with all their might and mien to find the answers to change the society, to eradicate sexual abuse, to guard, protect, and cherish the least, the last, the lost, the innocent, the vulnerable, the children.

That’s Catholicism.

What will be ballyhooed in Atlanta will be public relations pap.

Pap that nonetheless will cost a pretty penny not just in dollars but in what it is extracting from the very heart, soul and spirit of the Roman Catholic Church while the survivors continue to be cast as the outsiders viewed as those who created and perpetuate the problem.

These who are our very own children.

— Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, NSAC KristineWard@hotmail.com

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Credibility

It’s an amazing statement that Cardinal Timothy Dolan fired up and lobbed out to reporters after Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Sunday before hopping a plane to Ireland.

“SNAP,” declared the Cardinal,” has no credibility whatsoever.”

If Cardinal Dolan had considered what he was saying he’d know the next thing he should say is not another ounce of effort should be put into getting depositions from SNAP’s leaders or getting SNAP records.

No credibility, nothing worth getting. Plenty of Catholic money saved.

In the slap against SNAP, the organization that lifted the veil on Cardinal Dolan’s Milwaukee tactics, New York’s top prelate told reporters on Sunday that the reports of his Milwaukee voluntary laicization incentive payments were “groundless and scurrilous.”

Groundless? Here is the link to the 3/7/03 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council minutes:

Link: Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council Minutes.pdf

The minutes include this paragraph:
“Currently unassignable priests are receiving full salaries and are budgeted under the Vicar for Clergy. There is a proposal to reduce their benefit to be the same as the current pension benefit, $1,250 per month and also offer $20,000 for laicization ($10,000 at the start and $10,000 at the completion of the process). Also, they remain on our health insurance until they find other employment. The final effect of all this is not known at this time and it may be awash with the current budget.”

Scurrilous? When the leader of an archdiocese who is charged with being the moral and spiritual beacon contemplates and then executes a plan to use money as an incentive to speed up the process of getting rid of perpetrator priests without a scintilla’s worth of effort to call the police, that is insulting, scandalous, and outrageous behavior on an Archbishop’s part. Scurrilous, indeed.

What we hope Catholics in the pews are not being hoodwinked by is that Dolan’s carrot laicization filing solution centers on dealing with clerics who raped and sodomized children by methods involving the Church’s process only not the US justice system. To know whether Catholics are being hoodwinked or not will involve those in the pews declaring themselves. For those who bought or are still buying “this is all in the past” mantra, we repeat the date of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council minutes: 3/7/2003.

The minutes don’t reflect any caveats, such as, applying for laicization when the judicial process has taken it course. No need to consider the justice system, no one was calling the police. No police investigation was ever intended. No way to safeguard children was ever part of the equation of the exit strategy of the bank account bounce.

Dolan’s come to Ireland for the Eucharistic Congress (June 10-17) that Pope Benedict wisely decided not to attend.

Those who bear the daily burden of the result of rape and sodomy magnified by its perpetration by those who claimed a divine kinship as “alter Christus” will not be silenced here. Indeed if justice is denied to them the very stones of the Burren should cry out.

A transatlantic crossing will not wash away the Milwaukee revelations for Dolan.

He might well bear in mind the old Irish proverb: “There is no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking.”

Upon his return stateside, the June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops looms. Dolan’s the man on the lead horse for the USCCB. Those who line up behind him should carefully consider what’s likely to be spattered upon them.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

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Justice Can Rise Up

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
Seamus Heaney,”The Cure at Troy”

Life is hard here. Here in Northern Ireland. This is the land of Derry and Belfast. These are the cities of the datelines of the decades of the most recent “troubles.”

The peace is still nascent here.

As the Olympic Torch moves through a five (5) day relay across this part of the United Kingdom there is determination that the days will not be marred by violence or incident.

This is country that still lives intimately with heaviness and hardship. It cannot be hidden. It embosses the faces of the local residents even as they play hide and seek with it in the lifting of a Saturday night pint of Guinness to the rhythms of the fiddle.

We take pause in asking more of these people.

But ask we must for the government of Northern Ireland is on the verge of announcing an inquiry into sexual abuse in Northern Ireland.

Inquiry yes.

But not a vapid whitewash.

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) stands up and shouts for an inquiry with teeth and spine.

This means an inquiry constituted and vested with the power to call hierarchs, the authorities at the De La Salle boys home in County Down, and any and all in positions of knowledge and authority to testify.

This means an inquiry with subpoena power for documents.

Short of that, the government of Northern Ireland should save the paper to make the announcement, the electricity to turn on the computer to compose the document, and the ink to sign it.

God knows the people of Northern Ireland have been through hell in the troubles.

To wound them again cannot be done without recognizing the highest gravity of this matter.

Recognize it we do.

Only the will and drive to get to the truth and stop not one millimeter short of it will be acceptable.

God knows what the children in Northern Ireland have suffered by being raped and sodomized and having their innocence stripped from them in the ugliest and most soul searing of ways.

It is beyond time that the rest of the world knew the facts of it.

Inquiry yes.

But not for accommodation, for show, for placating.

Inquiry for truth alone.

—- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

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Atlantic Seepage

Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.
Seamus Heaney, the “Bogland”

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) stands on the sod of Ireland to bear witness to the incredible courage of the children raped, sodomized, and demeaned from whom childhood was cruelly and crudely ripped asunder by molesting priests and nuns in Irish parishes, schools and orphanages.

When we lived in the void of unknowing before the survivors’ truth penetrated our consciousness, Seamus Heaney’s portrait of Ireland’s bogs might have simply been stunning poetry.

Not today.

Today they are heavy with Irish melancholy that moans without ceasing for deliverance from the fraud of self-preservation over genuine leadership for justice and the protection of children.

We speak of two prelates – one on each side of the Atlantic, — two Irishmen — the Cardinal Primate of All Ireland, Sean Brady and the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, former Archbishop of Milwaukee, and current president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Timothy Dolan.

Atlantic seepage indeed.

Cardinal Brady, who has chosen the pedantic response to the rape and sodomy of children, speaks most vigorously not for justice for children robbed of childhood by the vilest of crimes but to defend his own position.

A recent BBC This World documentary revealed that Cardinal Brady when he was a priest and teacher was part of an investigation on behalf of his bishop into charges of sexual abuse by Brendan Smyth, whom the world would later come to know as the most prolific of the known Ireland clerical pedophiles.

Brady, the BBC documentary revealed, when he gained knowledge of Smyth took no action inform parents or parishioners. He says he thought his superiors would.

He has characterized his role in the investigation of Smyth as a note taker.

He defends his action by saying, “In 1975 no State or Church guidelines existed in the Republic of Ireland to assist those responding to an allegation of abuse against a minor.” (The investigation took place in 1975).

And this man holds the highest clerical office in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. His defense is that he was bereft of a pamphlet of guidelines for how to act when a child body is torn apart by rape, when a child’s psyche is battered harder than the Atlantic’s waves pound Skellig Michael, when a child is seared by sodomy?

Guidelines? How about the Scriptures?

In his famine of principles, could ethics and morality at least have been served up in side dish portions?

NSAC calls on Cardinal Brady to discard the fig leaf of face saving in a two year hide behind a almost certainly to be appointed coadjutor bishop for a safe steerage into a mandatory retirement age resignation.

To resign is the least Cardinal Brady can do.

The least he can do to honor the courage of Helen McGonigle, who became a victim of Brendan Smyth, at the age of 6 in Rhode Ireland – and for her sister, also victimized who committed suicide.

We have touched this scarred and wounded earth, called Ireland, in an act of reverence for Helen McGonigle’s courage and in her sister’s memory – for them and for all of the victims of the horrors of Smyth who traveled the world, courtesy of perpetrator transfer travels.

On the other side of the Atlantic comes word today that the United States’ newest Cardinal, while he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, invented a payoff system for priest perpetrators who voluntarily agreed to laicization to the tune of $20,000.

We call our readers’ attention to the Minutes of the March 7, 2003 Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council Meeting.

Here is the link: Archdiocese of Milwaukee Finance Council Minutes.pdf

The minutes include this paragraph:

“Currently unassignable priests are receiving full salaries and are budgeted under the Vicar for Clergy. There is a proposal to reduce their benefit to be the same as the current pension benefit, $1,250 per month and also offer $20,000 for laicization ($10,000 at the start and $10,000 at the completion of the process). Also, they remain on our health insurance until they find other employment. The final effect of all this is not known at this time and it may be awash with the current budget.”

So, if you were a priest perpetrator in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee during Archbishop Dolan’s tenure you were staked with at least $10,000 and a possible $20,000 to get out and get lost.

This was on top of whatever amount of money you collected while you were on paid vacation or receiving pension benefits as a coyly categorized “unassignable” priest.

This is a children protection policy?

Vatican action on ridding the priesthood of rapists and sodomites worked too slow for Dolan it appeared. A call to the local police station wouldn’t have involved near the paperwork that a laicization case would. A call to the police station would also have saved the good Catholics of Milwaukee from tossing $20,000 bouquets at “unassignable” priests to use the clever language of deceit and deflection.

We are given to believe that no one on the diocesan Finance Council objected to this scheme, including the Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba. The same auxiliary bishop who did not object to the previous Archbishop Rembert Weakland, lifting nearly a half million dollars from the good Catholics of Milwaukee to pay off a former lover.

The $20,000 per willing perpetrator that Dolan was so willing to dole out we remind our readers came from the collection baskets of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee through the diocesan assessment. There is no tooth fairy for diocesan coffers. This money came from the wallets, the purses, and the coin jars of in the pew Catholics.

We called our readers attention again to the date of this meeting: March 7, 2003. The crisis in its Boston’s incarnation broke on January 6, 2002.

If Dolan was holding open an exit door for perpetrators with a gilded carrot, what else was he doing?

How many payoffs were there?

What else had a dollar sign attached to it?

Nothing short of the full release of records is called for in these circumstances.

The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com

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April 27, 2012

Editorial

The Good Sisters

There has been a great deal of ink, broadcast air, and cyberspace focused in the past week on the Vatican’s move against the women religious in the United States as they are organized in the Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCRW).

There is great feeling both nostalgic and immediate expressed in the support of the vowed religious women in all approaches: the men are from Mars, women are from Venus theme, the walk with the underprivileged, the marginalized, and the poor versus the disconnected mansion men, or the social justice versus the hard right guide to sexuality.

We do not raise our voice to condemn, hurt, or deflate the sisters for God knows we have seen, know and sympathize with their plight because of the courage of the survivors of sexual abuse who have informed the Church and the society at large of the dealings of the hierarchy.

It is because of the survivors and the families of those who committed suicide that we raise our voice in the midst of the discussion about the nuns.

We raise it to ask the sisters as they pray, reflect, gather and seek to dialogue in their current crisis to come clean with the sexual abuse by nuns and do right by the survivors and their families.

We believe that if five ten communities of religious sisters had stood up, ramrod straight and unblinkingly strong when the third incarnation, let alone the first and second, of this horrific scandal burst into the general consciousness in Boston in 2002 that we would be miles ahead of where we are today in resolving this crisis – and certainly the survivors who are giving the heartbreaking and heart wrenching testimony that is unfolding in Philadelphia after the need for two grand jury reports could have been spared.

Nor would SNAP be standing near friendless with little financial resources as the Bishops bear down upon them in a new and fresh legal assault.

Yes, individual sisters have stood up, rallied to survivors, marched in front of cathedrals and testified in legislative hearings, most prominently, deliberately and perseveringly Sister Maureen Paul Turlish but this was not a wholesale response nor did it reach deep and wide into communities.

This is made all the more poignant because the abused, those who committed suicide and those who are today at risk are the very children that members of these religious communities taught and teach in parochial schools through this country, work for their full dignity as refugees and immigrants, strive to provide health care for, ladle food for in soup kitchens, find jobs for as returning veterans who suffer from the same PTSD as survivors, as well as nursed and nurse in their institutions, and raised in orphanages.

These were not strangers or the other; these were and are their very own.

We wish to make our position clear that we do not oppose the strong, rapid, and solid response of solidarity the sisters appear to be receiving from the laity – of which they are a part.

We acknowledge and applaud this support for its own value and because indeed we wish with all our hearts that had been or would be now the response of Catholics for survivors of sexual abuse and the families of those who committed suicide.

But it is important and imperative that in this time and at this juncture in the Church’s life we must say that while being bullied, being treated rudely, and being investigated is offensive and insulting, it is not on the same par as an innocent and vulnerable child’s body being raped, sodomized, forced into a crucifixion poses and made to mock the God that was systematically being taken from them in the vilest of ways. And heaped upon that when the victim finds the courage and strength to go to religious authorities, bishops in particular, to keep others from the same fate, the perpetrators are protected and crimes are hidden.

To say that the sisters are ata critical crossroad is an understatement.

They know, as we do, that it is their properties more likely than their policies that today are in the bulls eye of Rome. It is no coincidence that the current situation collides with the steeple grab of parishes hitting a major obstacle in Cleveland. Bishop Richard Lennon must back down and re-open the 12 parishes on which he hung closed signs with the bulldozer disregard he honed in Boston as an auxiliary of Cardinal Law’s. In St. Louis the Missouri Supreme Court sided with the trusteeship organization of the parish of St. Stanislaus Parish and bluntly told the archbishop that he does not own the $9 million assets of this parish no matter how much excommunicating gets waived about or how much hold he thinks he has over the parishioners souls.

The religious sisters hold and manage valuable properties in the United States and a number of the congregations are involved in the lucrative business of health care both in hospitals and nursing homes.

If Rome’s worst way prevails and canonical status is taken from the sisters’ congregations, all, some, a few, will lose their properties and the threat of that the Vatican knows is more than enough to give the sisters pause.

Pause enough to heed and heel or pause to seize the moment in true freedom and heal the Church itself only time will tell us.

As the sisters take the initial step toward an answer to Rome and its trinity of overseers in late May and go forward with their assembly in August we sincerely yet urgently and forthrightly call upon them to address the issue of sexual abuse by members of their communities.

With the same voice we ask all Catholics when will they stand with the victims of sexual abuse with the same volume, solidarity, numbers and sense of injustice as they show to and express for the nuns?

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

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a

April 4, 2012

Editorial

Out of Ireland a Call that Could Lead to Justice

NSAC calls its readers attention today to an important event inIrelandthat could have far reaching implications.

This is a first of its kind call and an undertaking that has become reality in no small measure through the diligence and courage of an Irish survivor, Mark Vincent Healy.

The Irish province of a religious order known as the Spiritans, formerly known as the Holy Ghost Fathers, has requested a “public audit” of its handling of child sexual abuse to be conducted by the Irish National Board for Safeguarding of Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCI). The NBSCCI is the organization that has investigated the Irish Dioceses of Ardagh, Clonmacnois,Derry, Dromore, Kilmore, Raphoe and Tuam.

While this audit is being requested by theIrishProvinceof the Spiritans, we call our readers attention to the presence of the Spiritans (Holy Ghost Fathers) in 53 countries including theUnited States. The Spiritans have personnel on five (5) continents.

The Spiritans are a congregation that was founded in 1703. The order includes priests, brothers and lay associates. (The Irish province, the website notes, numbers 370; two thirds are inIrelandand one third working in 27 other countries.)

Here are links that are important to this public call for an independent audit:

The Spiritans’ announcement says in part, ” This notice is to inform Spiritan membership, their co-workers, their associates, their pastoral and educational institutes, their development and community works and the public at large that an audit will be carried out in early May 2012. The audit report will be published at a later date to be agreed by the other dioceses and congregations in the same tranche of audits.”

NSAC is pleased to use our pages to sound the all points bulletin that this investigation will be conducted.

But the investigation will only be as good and fruitful as the information it is able to obtain.

We ask our readers to spread the word and become part of a wide distribution of this message so that any victims of sexual abuse by Spiritans may be found or any persons with knowledge of abuse by Spiritans may be found in Ireland or in any of the 53 countries on five (5) continents in which Spiritans have been and are located.

With vigor, we call upon anyone with knowledge of abuse by Spiritans to make their information known to the NBSCCI.

NSAC offers its services as a conduit for information to anyone wishing to connect with the Irish entity, the NBSCCI, which is conducting the audit. Simply send the information to us and we will get it to the NBSCCI.

Please do not let lack of computer literacy, knowledge of how to contact the Irish NBSCCI or thoughts that information may not be relevant or any other reason keep you from providing any information you may have that could be needed for this investigation. If in doubt about anything you may know, err on the side of providing the information. This is ultimately about the protection of children – and justice.

NSAC sends a top of the morning salute to Mr. Healy for his determined work.

NSAC wishes the NBSCCI success in this endeavor.

The Spiritans proclaim “We give voice to Gospel justice where it cannot be heard or is silenced.” Let us hope that this will be the truth of this investigation.

NSAC will keep a steady eye out for results.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

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April 3, 2012

Editorial

NSAC Salutes Jason Berry’s Ire

We are pleased to congratulate author Jason Berry on being named the Investigative Reporter and Editors (IRE) award winner in the book category for the great work he produced in “Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.”

IRE announced its award winners yesterday.

Here are the judges’ comments regarding Mr. Berry and “Render Unto Rome.”

Author Jason Berry delves deeply into a topic few have examined – the secretive finances of the Roman Catholic Church. Using voluminous background research that takes the reader back centuries, Berry uncovers abuses of the trust of church members by influential bishops who diverted funds intended for philanthropic purposes into accounts used for plugging Vatican operating deficits or defending priests accused of pedophilia. Berry details how the modern church is systematically closing churches in poorer parishes while at the same time opening churches in affluent suburbs where the weekly “take” is greater. The author makes extensive use of public documents, leaked parish records, trial transcripts, interviews and a wide range of published reporting to paint a complete picture of a heretofore secret network of church financial dealings. For shining a bright light on the shenanigans and inner workings of the Catholic Church, IRE honors Jason Berry and “Render Unto Rome”.

The two finalists in the category in which Mr. Berry captured the top honor were:

Our readers will recall, we hope, that the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) selected “Render Unto Rome” as our thank you gift to our financial benefactors last year. We thought it was a robust and stimulating choice and a gift of value to our benefactors. (We hope our readers will stay tuned for this year’s selection.)

Render Unto Rome” provides insightful reportage on the parishes of the Diocese of Cleveland where recently the Vatican reversed the decision of the local bishop, Richard Lennon to close 13 parishes. The parishes, however, have not re-opened and Lennon is, the latest news reports, studying the Vatican’s letter and considering his options for appeal.

Berry has done groundbreaking work on revealing the full scale corruption of Marciel Maciel, the founder of the Legionnaires of Christ – both the sexual abuse and the financial scandals. His work brought the remarkable courage of the Maciel victims into a daylight where it can – and is – the best of disinfectants.

IRE was founded in 1975 by some of the most distinguished reporters and columnists in the investigative journalism field, among them: Jack Anderson, Les Whitten (columnists), David Burnham (New York Times) and Len Downie, (Washington Post), Robert Peirce (St. Louis Globe Democrat) and Harley Bierce (Indianapolis Star), Ron Koziol (Chicago Tribune).

As IRE’s website notes: At the organizational meeting, Les Whitten asserted that what most characterizes the investigative reporter is “a sense of outrage.”

During the course of the meeting (and with the help of a dictionary), it was determined that the simplicity of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the resultant acronym, IRE, seemed to fit such an association.

For Jason Berry’s ire, we are indebted for without it the Catholic world and all men and women of goodwill would be impoverished and chained in the slavery of living in the dark about what has – and continues – to transpire in the world of the Roman Catholic Church. For Mr. Berry’s work does not chronicle events of what happened long ago in a galaxy far, far away. His work has unearthed the crimes of modern times.

Being honored by one’s peers magnifies the sweetness of an award and we hope this will be particularly so for Mr. Berry when he accepts his award at IRE’s 2012 conference in Boston in June.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

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March 30, 2012

Editorial

The Signals Switch

Pope Benedict XVI visited Mexico and Cuba between March 23 and March 29 and like the Cardinal Archbishop of New York he seems to have a new strategy towards sexual abuse victims, too.

Beginning with his trip to the United States in 2008, the pontiff has been meeting with survivors of sexual abuse by clergy during his international travels.

But no meetings with survivors were on the agenda for the Mexico or Cuba visits.

The Vatican’s spokesman said no bishops requested meetings with survivors and therefore none were placed on the schedule.

Huh?

Mexico, let’s remember, is the land of the alpha and omega of Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionnaires of Christ. Maciel was born in Mexico and is buried there – a far place and a far cry from the Roman stage where he held forth with great panoply and power backed by Pope John Paul II.

Thanks to the dedicated work of author Jason Berry as well as the revelations of courageous former members of the Legion we know of Maciel’s abuse of children placed in the care of his institutions, his abuse of Legionnaire seminarians, his fathering of children by two women, and his drug abuse.

Benedict knows all too well how diligently and Church-correctly the Maciel victims presented their canon law case to the Vatican. He was in charge of the Congregation to which they made their case.

Very late in the game, Pope Benedict ordered an investigation which resulted in Maciel being ordered to live a life of prayer and penance.

In a new book whose release coincided with the Pope’s arrival in Mexico, the authors assert that in 2001 the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, modified canon law to go easy on Maciel regarding sexual abuse.

(Here’s the link to the Jason Berry’s 3/24/12 National Catholic Reporter story regarding the release of the book: to http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/ratzinger-altered-canon-law-soften-maciel-punishment-book-argues)

The suffering of the Maciel sexual abuse survivors alone, let alone the other revelations concerning the fathering of children and the charge by one of the sons that he, too, was abused by Maciel, should have been enough of a genesis for the Pope to initiate a meeting with the Maciel survivors — or at the very, very least speak publicly with compassion and genuine sorrow to comfort the good Catholics of Mexico who endured this duplicitous, deceitful, double life living man.

The Pope’s Mexico trip was a perfect opportunity to tell the world what these survivors have been through and to begin to honestly, forthrightly and sincerely address the crisis.

It’s Lent, the trip was on the threshold of the holiest week of the Catholic calendar, and the Pope’s departing message on Cuban soil was that people find freedom when they seek truth. Fertile ground for reconciliation, penance and of course, truth telling, no?

But the landscape has changed since Pope Benedict began meetings with survivors on his trips.

Most strikingly what’s happened is: the filing of a case in the International Criminal Courts by survivors against Pope Benedict and the Vatican coupled with new strong arm tactics against SNAP and the dramatic opening of the criminal case against the highest ranking clergyman ever to go on trial for endangerment of children, Monsignor William Lynn, in Philadelphia plus a court appearance this week by the only Bishop indicted in this crisis: Bishop Robert Finn of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese.

We can’t help but wonder if this prime time for penitence was passed over in large measure because of the confluence of these events.

Or could it be the Vatican has a point: it’s the Bishops’ fault?

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

 

March 23, 2012

Editorial

GIDDY UP and WAGONS HO!

Cardinal Timothy Dolan played his new ring hand this week on his Archdiocese of New York blog.

In a none too subtle posting on his blog on 3/20/12 (here’s the link http://blog.archny.org/?p=2384), the newly minted and over the top feted Eminence confirmed the bishops’ new strategy: playing hardball against victims, and SNAP in particular.

This approach was first revealed by Catholic League president William Donahue in the 3/12/12 New York Times story “Catholic Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse victims Group” (here’s the link http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/us/catholic-church-pressures-victims-network-with subpoenas.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=catholic%20league&st=cse )

The story played out in a good cop/bad cop routine with Mr. Donahue being quoted as bluntly declaring the “bishops have come together collectively” in this approach while Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) demurred that Mr. Donahue was incorrect and no such new strategy was in place.

Enter the Cardinal’s column. Tie broken. Winner declared: take no prisoners, new aggressive strategy it is.

Any reader of a diocesan newspaper knows that bishops are experts at the coy, the obfuscating, the lovely sounding but non-relevant tinkling brass and clanging symbol approach to communication.

When they do otherwise it pays to take heed.

In this Dolan tip of the blog hat to the Catholic League, Catholics and all men and women of goodwill should hear a beaver thumping of danger in the woods.

When the bishops circle their wagons around a jovial, back slapping, have a few beers with you wagon master prepared to pour as much and as many high powered attorneys’ fees plus muscle and venom as it takes in pursuit of a bare knuckle, wide net, fear inducing campaign against an ever-growing and effective band of victims the Gospel is not in them thar’ hills: self preservation is.

Cardinal Dolan, with his blog posting, it seems to us, is taking the same approach political candidates take to their Super PACs: not running them, don’t really know what they are doing on my behalf (wink, wink), can’t help they are saying exactly what I want to, and boy do I love the dough they are socking into it.

In other words, giddy up and wagons ho!

If you agree with this approach, please do nothing, Cardinal Dolan and Mr. Donahue have it well in hand.

If you don’t, please put your money where your conscience is: send SNAP a check, use our donate button at the top of this page, let us know you want the money to go to SNAP and we’ll get it there, put a message in your collection envelope that your money is going to support the least, the last, the vulnerable, the innocent – those who were left along the side of the road, abandoned, stepped over and never expected to rise up and seek justice for themselves.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

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February 24, 2012

Editorial

Dolan’s D&C

Any cursory reader of the news in the last two weeks can’t help but know that Timothy Dolan belongs to the most exclusive men’s club in the world: the Roman Catholic Church’s College of Cardinals.

If you are a New Yorker – or a New Jerseyite — or a traveler to anywhere in the circular range of the New York media you have not been able to escape this traveling show of his pre-consistory trip to the Holy Land, his departure from his Fifth Avenue digs for the trip to Rome, his arrival in Rome, the fact that he took a shower at North American College in Rome before going out for a bowl of pasta, his New York decaled jacket approach to press conferences throughout the week, his restaurant visits with family and traveling band of 1,000 in tow, his chosenness for the pre-consistory speech, his working-the-room jaunt down St. Peter’s aisle, his bounding with skirt hem lifted to Pope Benedict to get his hat and ring, his pasta weight gain that keeps him from taking his ring off his finger to see the coat of arms of the man who put it there, his post consistory receptions, his continuing press conferences, and his bag piped arrival back at his New York Fifth Avenue digs. Not to mention the coverage of his tailor, his ringmaker, and his mother, Whew!

All of that dust, we do believe, is the really the architecture of a Dolan D&C strategy: the diversion and charm offensive in the face of the highest stakes to date in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

The bread and circuses of the consistory is now fully juxtaposed to the seating of a jury in the child endangerment case of the highest ranking cleric to date to face a courtroom, the gatekeeper for Philadelphia cardinals, Monsignor Lynn; the full court press of Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese Bishop Robert Finn defense attorney to unhoist him from his own petard; the full throttle attack against the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in a growing strategy of subpoenas of staff for information for cases to which SNAP is not a party wrapped in a sinister drive to get to SNAP’s confidential records of victims conversations and correspondence.

It’s a dark retrospective of our Borgia, Medici, Borghese past.

And it cost a bundle.

Did we mention bread and circuses? Indeed, it cannot be lost on his new Eminence Dolan that both are what is expected of him. Diversion for sure from the largest crisis in the Church’s last 500 years and money. Legatus Society members, Knights of Columbus, and adoring New Yorkers your wallets are about to be tapped.

For in all the talk — or at least tossed off references — to the wardrobe color of cardinals being the reminder of the devotion of cardinals to extend to the shedding of one’s blood — the neglect seems to be in saying in whom the devotion is placed.

We believe that if Cardinals, these 22 new ones, and the old ones, believed that the devotion was indeed to the Lord and not to the Supreme Pontiff who gave them these positions that they would do something equivalent to the shedding of their blood – such as — going to prison for the perpetration of criminal acts of rape, sodomy and life long horror on innocent children entrusted to the Church’s care.

And if they believe, as Cardinal Egan does, that they have nothing to be held accountable for, then indeed for the equivalent of shedding their blood, they should go to prison in the place of one who is guilty of these atrocious acts.

Dolan was not the only American to get new clothes, ring and Roman church to support last weekend, Edwin O’Brien, who headed the Military Archdiocese of the United States at a particularly interesting time: the time when Thomas Doyle was a chaplain in Germany, six months from retirement, and an expert witness in a growing number of sexual abuse cases.

When the newly minted Cardinal O’Brien sat in St. Peter’s Basilica and thought about what got him to that day surely the countenance of Thomas Doyle past before his mind’s eye.

The politics of diversion and charisma will continue

We ask our readers not to be taken in by it, stopped in your tracks by it, defeated by it, or in any way diverted by it.

This is shoulder to the grindstone time.

Give to SNAP. They need it now more than ever.

Think of the money that was spent on the consistory show – and weep – and then act.

Make a call today to a survivor you know. Thank them for their courage.

Write a letter to any New York media outlet.

Lift the veil of secrecy.

Justice Brandeis was right: sunlight is the best disinfectant.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

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February 20, 2012

Editorial

Cheap Striped Suit

The Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is beginning to resemble a cheap striped suit.

You know the kind. The suit that might look good from a distance or even holds up across a lunch or dinner table for a couple of wearings.

But over the long haul, the stripes at the seams, the cuffs and collar don’t match, the material miserably rumples and when cleaned the stiffening completely abandons ship.

That’s about the way the last two weeks have shaped up or wimped out.

Two conferences on sexual abuse took place in Rome: the symposium titled “Towards Renewal and Healing” followed by the “Anglophone Conference on the Safeguarding of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults.” The symposium was a first, the conference has been an annual event since 1996.

There’s been a good bit of coverage in both the secular and Catholic press about these gatherings. Lots of trumpeting, strong language about a new baseline, accountability, progress, protection and fraternal correction.

For a flavor of the news coverage of the two events in Rome last week, we called your attention to a John Allen interview published this week in the National Catholic Reporter with Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, Australia. Allen’s description of the Australian is one who has “carved out a reputation as a ‘healing bishop” on the scandals.”

Here’s the link to the whole interview and our readers may judge for themselves but we find a portion of this interview particularly striking juxtaposed to the legal request made by Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese Bishop Robert Finn yesterday. http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/accountability-fraternal-correction-bishops

Here’s the Allen interview text to which we are referring:

John Allen’s question: At the summit, we heard Monsignor Scicluna say that the policy of the church is “full cooperation” with civil authorities, meaning reporting abuse charges to police and prosecutors. Are you one hundred percent convinced that’s now the Vatican’s settled policy, and that the old debate over whether cooperation with civil justice infringed on the church’s autonomy has been resolved?

Bishop Wilson’s response: I believe what Monsignor Scicluna says. If he says that, then that’s it. I think that’s true. Once again, those statements are well and good, but it needs to be lived out in the realities of the different places.

John Allen’s question: But you’re convinced the Vatican is on board?

Bishop Wilson’s response: Yes, I am. That’s been my experience from the very beginning. Certainly in Australia, our experience is such that we’ve always been committed to that.

John Allen’s question: Another issue to surface at the Gregorian (site of the symposium) is accountability, especially for bishops. The church now has strong anti-abuse policies, but the question is what happens if a bishop or superior doesn’t apply them. Do you agree that there needs to be strong accountability for failure to apply these policies?

Bishop Wilson’s response: Yes, I do. I think there has to be accountability for episcopal ministry in every area. It seems to me that in your place as a diocesan bishop, you’re not just operating on your own. You have responsibilities to the people you’re called to care for, and you have responsibilities to the Holy See as well. The pope has a very strong interest and pastoral responsibility to make sure that bishops are carrying out their ministry correctly.

John Allen: You would support some sort of canonical sanction for bishops who fail to apply the policies?

Bishop Wilson: I’m not sure what the sanction would be, but there certainly should be some way of calling people to task

In Kansas City yesterday, attorneys for Bishop Finn filed four legal motions seeking to have the criminal charge against him in Jackson County dismissed.

Finn is charged with failing to report suspected child abuse due to his knowledge for five months of child pornography on the computer of a priest of his diocese’s.

We call your attention to this particular quote from the legal motions filed yesterday to get Bishop Finn off the accountability hook:

“ While Bishop Finn may be a mandatory reporter, by statute his legal duty to report is extinguished when the religious organization designates an agent or agents to report in an official capacity on behalf of the organization,” the defense wrote in its motion.

Here is the link to the full story in the Kansas City Star: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/15/3432229/kc-bishops-legal-team-fights-to.html?story_link=email_msg#storylink=cpy

As we see it, the big winner here is the Rome Affiliate of the Italian Restaurateurs Association since once the lights go out at these talking events business as usual is back in full swing.

Come on, fellas, Excellencies and Eminences, let’s not keep the well tailored suits for consistories, concerts, and connoisseur dining, let’s bring them out for the parade of integrity.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

__________

February 10, 2012

Editoral

A WEEK FULL of IT

Absence can speak with a megaphone.

It did this week in Rome at the symposium on sexual abuse.

It ran for fours days and ended with the opening of an “e-learning center” in Germany.

Pope Benedict XVI was nowhere to be seen. At the symposium, that is.

This symposium was not held in Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, Seattle, Soweto or the south base camp of the South Pole.

It was held within the confines of the city of Rome.

A city where the Supreme Pontiff lives, works, has a car at his disposal for which he does not personally pay for the gas or the diesel fuel to run it.

A pontiff who has found enough time in his papacy to write books.

The symposium was held at the Pontifical Gregorian University which is within easy walking distance of Trevi Fountain and if you have a chauffeured car with police protection and traffic halting capabilities it takes about as much time to get to it from the Vatican than the average American’s trip from home to the grocery.

Marie Collins, a survivor spoke. She spoke about the difficulty of her wrenching decision to participate and also of the death of her respect for the church. The struggle with her decision, let alone the years of suffering she’s endured, should have been ample reason for a Pope to honor her and all survivors, their families and the families of those who committed suicide with his attendance at the symposium.

Second best, in a City and a Church where sign and symbol are sublime, she could have been an invited front row guest at the Pope’s regularly scheduled Wednesday audience. An honor given out weekly to the donors, friends, relatives, and collaborators of the well connected. She wasn’t invited.

This is a crisis about crimes committed by agents of the Church upon members of the Church and covered up by those with the highest ranks in the Church.

In a Church really seeking, searching and committed to answers and action for this great crisis what would have been more important going in town this week for the Pope other than this symposium?

Ad limina visits of Bishops? Take them with you to the symposium.

The Pope’s absence, this gaping void, tells us the priority of the Church for this problem. The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna the Promoter of Justice in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith who was the principle driver of this event. He tried, and at times, passionately tried, to put muscle into what the Church’s response should be no matter the dangers or the opportunities for the agents of the Church. The Pope’s absence gave the world the real picture.

You may recall former Governor Frank Keating’s comparison at the time he left the first National Review Board of the bishops in America as akin to the Mafia.

Drawing the same comparison, the role Scicluna played this week was that of an indulged son of a don who see evil in the world but has no comprehension of the family’s real business.

Scicluna was given the indulgence of space, time, funding and entre to bishops’ conferences and religious orders for the invitation list.

What Monsignor Scicluna will have to come to terms with is that his event showed no evidence that the family is getting out of the business.

A trio of Cardinal dons provided evidence for that.

On this side of the ocean, Cardinal Edward Egan, the former head of the New York Archdiocese, reneged on an apology made to abuse victims in the dioceses he headed.

He received not a fraternal correction, not even a no comment but a pat on the back from the current head of the New York Archdiocese, Cardinal- in-Waiting, and Timothy Dolan.

On the other side of the Atlantic, at the symposium Cardinal William Levada, the current head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Curia congregation where cases regarding clerical abuse are filed, spoke not about the victims and what they have endured and the horrors of the actions of priests that cross his congregational desk. No, he spoke about how difficult all of this has been for Pope Benedict.

Even if the Pope didn’t feel he should be in attendance to honor the courage and forthrightness of Marie Collins, the admitted to numbers – which from all we have learned in this massive and still growing scandal cannot be the total numbers — these numbers alone should have gotten any good steward’s attention – and attendance:

  • 100,000 victims — 100,000 admitted to innocent Catholic children raped and sodomized by priests with at least 100,000 crimes covered up by Bishops
  • $2.2 billion in Catholic money spent

As if any additional evidence of disconnect was needed, here is the official text – I kid you not – of what the Pope chose to say at his general audience across town from the symposium on sexual abuse which he did not attend:

Today I want to reflect with you on the cry of Jesus from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This cry comes after a three-hour period when there was darkness over the whole land. Darkness is an ambivalent symbol in the Bible – while it is frequently a sign of the power of evil, it can also serve to express a mysterious divine presence. Just as Moses was covered in the dark cloud when God appeared to him on the mountain, so Jesus on Calvary is wrapped in darkness. Even though the Father appears to be absent, in a mysterious way his loving gaze is focused upon the Son’s loving sacrifice on the Cross. It is important to realize that Jesus’ cry of anguish is not an expression of despair: on the contrary, this opening verse of Psalm twenty-two conveys the entire content of the psalm, it expresses the confidence of the people of Israel that despite all the adversity they are experiencing, God remains present among them, he hears and answers his people’s cry. This prayer of the dying Jesus teaches us to pray with confidence for all our brothers and sisters who are suffering, that they too may know the love of God who never abandons them.

* * *

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from England, Ireland, Norway and the United States of America. I extend a special welcome to the many students who are here, and I pray that your studies may serve to deepen your knowledge and love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Whatever darkness you experience in your lives, may you always remain firm in faith, hope and love. May God bless all of you! © Copyright 2012 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Good Grief!

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

January 17, 2012

Editoral

Delaware Exection Scheduled

for

Survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse

NSAC News calls your attention today to a Friday, January 20, 2012 State of Delaware scheduled execution of Robert Gattis, who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and your consideration in signing a petition for clemency to life in prison without parole.

We are printing, in its entirety, Sister Maureen Turlish’s letter to Delaware Governor Jack Markell and the Delaware Board of Pardons regarding a request for computation of the death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. An edited version of the letter appeared as an OP-ED in the Delaware News Journal on Friday 1/13/12. http://www.delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012201130322

At the bottom of the letter is the website where the petition for clemency may be signed.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

Full text of Sister Maureen Turlish’s Letter

January 13, 2012

Governor Jack Markell
Carvel State Office Building
820 N. French Street, 12th Floor
Wilmington, DE 19801

Members of the Delaware Board of Pardons
Board of Pardons of the State of Delaware
401 Federal Street, Townsend Building, Suite 3
Dover, DE 19901

Re: Clemency Petition of Robert A. Gattis

Dear Governor Markell and Members of the Delaware Board of Pardons:

Robert Gattis is scheduled to be executed on January 20, 2012. As a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware I urge you to recommend to Governor Markell that he grant clemency to Mr. Gattis and commute his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Monday, during the hearing before the Board of Pardons, the Attorney General’s Office argued that the evidence of Mr. Gattis’ sexual abuse should not be believed because he did not report the abuse sooner. I write to challenge this disturbing argument.

As a member of the Voice of the Faithful – and a founding member of National Survivor Advocates Coalition – organizations dedicated to supporting individuals who, as children were sexually abused, I know what experts in this field have all acknowledged: sexual abuse survivors, men in particular, are extremely reluctant to disclose their abuse. Prior to revealing the abuse, many of the survivors I have met told no one, not their parents, best friends, wives or children, what they had endured or about the great psychological and emotional weight the abuse continued to level upon them. I also know that some will never tell. Confusion, fear anger, shame, these are just a few of the emotions which lead a person to hide and in many cases, even deny, to others and themselves, what they have suffered.

It is for this reason that I lobbied for and testified before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of SB 29 which became the 2007 Delaware Child Victims Law and continue to work for legislative reform in Pennsylvania by advocating for the passage of House Bills 832 and 878. http://signon.org/sign/abolish-statute-of-limitatio?source=s.fwd&r_by=1961259

Experts have found that as a child, Mr. Gattis was repeatedly and violently raped and sexually victimized. These acts were often perpetrated while Mr. Gattis was in the care of those who were charged with protecting him and by people he believed could and should be trusted. Mr. Gattis was also physically brutalized by both his step-father and natural father and as a child he often witnessed these two men viciously beat his mother and other members of his family. Experts found that Mr. Gattis was profoundly damaged by the abuse he suffered and that it could be directly linked to his actions when he tragically killed Shirley Slay.

That is what the experts found and what my experience has taught, the State cannot rebut with its argument about late disclosure of the sexual abuse. Mr. Gattis’ abuse was terrible and has informed his life from childhood to this very day. It does not excuse his crime but it should mitigate the punishment.

As a person of Faith, I support clemency for many reasons. I also support clemency for Mr. Gattis because I have seen firsthand, the devastating impact sexual abuse can have on a person. I also know that there is no place in this case, or any other, for the State’s argument that those who delay in coming forward to disclose the acts which have been perpetrated on them as children are not believable. We have worked hard as a society to dispel the notion that women who do not immediately report a sexual assault are not telling the truth. The State’s arguments now are a set back to that progress we have made for women, men, and all of us who care about the lives of sexual abuse survivors.

The Board of Pardons and Governor should reject the States argument, grant clemency and commute Mr. Gattis’ sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

Petition for Clemency link —> www.robertgattisclemency.com

Sincerely,

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, SNDdeN
Advocate for Victims & Legislative Reform
New Castle, DE 19720
maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

__________

January 6, 2012

Editoral

10 YEARS ON

NSAC will be with survivors today and throughout this weekend.

Survivors gathering in Boston.

It only seems right and just, to borrow language from the new missal of the Roman Catholic Church. that it is where we should be on this solemn day which marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the revelations of the clergy and nun sexual abuse scandal through the Boston Globe’s powerful series of articles with its avalanche of sordid details that began a dripping of truth into the Catholic conscience.

This largest crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in the last 500 years didn’t begin on January 6, 2002 all of the survivors, known and unknown, living and dead are courageous testament to this.

But what Boston did do was to bring together a perfect storm that captured attention: a sitting East Coast Cardinal, one media outlet that most of a single archdiocese used as a major source of information, a shoe leather attorney who walked the South Boston neighborhood in the pursuit of truth and a Dominican priest with a spine. For those of you new to the movement – and indeed you are welcome — we refer to Cardinal Bernard Law, the Boston Globe, Mitchell Garabedian, and Father Thomas Doyle.

Ten years hence we find the landscape of the scandal that both the Vatican and hierarchs in the United States tried to frame a decade ago along with an echoing recent bishop-commissioned badly formed Jay John Study as a few bad apple priests caught up in the 1960s sexual revolution to be a roiling scandal across the face of Europe, two heads of governments ( Ireland and the Netherlands) shining the mirror of morality at the Vatican’s face, two civil governments (Ireland and Germany) investigating the Vatican, the filing of a case in the International Criminal Courts and in the United States the first indictment of a bishop.

All action has reaction.

Sadly, and we believe not coincidentally the recent six hour, six attorney deposition of SNAP’s executive director, David Clohessy and the subpoena of SNAP’s outreach director, Barbara Dorris, are the cause and effect of the indictment of a United States Bishop, Robert Finn, who heads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri, a bishop who refused to report child pornography. This is made clear to us by the fact that Mr. Clohessy’s was deposed even though SNAP is not a party to the survivor/priest abuse case that generated the deposition.

NSAC suspects there have been bishops, cardinals and misguided Catholics supporters who have lobbied for this hard ball approach against an effective organization since 2002: make SNAP spend money in litigation, limit SNAP’s staff time from its work of supporting victims by having it handle lawsuit and lawsuit demands, cast fear into those who know the right thing to do is to stand with the innocent, report crimes, and cast out evil.

Why is this happening?

Because SNAP has been laboring for 23 years and because SNAP is effective. [NSAC Co-Founder Bob Schwiderski has been a SNAP Member since 1989. Contact: MN SNAP skibrs@q.com 952-471-3422/].

SNAP and other survivor organizations bear the scars, the horrors, the wounds of abuse, know the suffering of whose families of victims, are the only true person with whom a survivor can relate, take the arrows that Catholics fling at them coming out of Mass when only a simple piece of paper is being offered them, listen so patiently at any hour of the day or night, any day or night of the year, at any convenient or inconvenient moment to their fellow survivors.

Catholics have been and continue to be slow at realizing and acknowledging this.

NSAC asks our fellow Catholics and all men and women of goodwill most particularly on this anniversary to re-examine their consciences, lift the veil, be not afraid to look truth squarely in the face no matter the pain, and in the language of the Catholic religion: follow the Lord.

Catholics have two ways of expressing their feelings in their Church: by their feet and their wallets. This month, NSAC strongly encourages you to shut your wallets. When asked why, simply explain that your fellow Catholics who are victims of sexual abuse along with their families are not fairly treated and until they are your money remains in escrow or goes to other organizations.

NSAC asks our subscribers to make this day a day of renewal.

We call upon you in love to act in courage this day to stand the forces of a hierarchy who marshal money and manpower to fight against the indictment of a bishop who has admitted that he refused to report child pornography engaged in by one of his priest while harassing those who have labored with little to no assistance to be the Good Shepherd to their fellow survivors.

Can we not do more than offer a cross within eyesight of the Joan of Arcs that hierarchs have delivered up to soul murder with a hindsight look at coming along 500 hundred years later and to pronounce canonization?

For indeed, this is what the pitiful “sorrys” of the Pope, Vatican and Bishops do.

And worse, it is the public crowing of the current Cardinal of Boston and his fellow hierarchs that the finger printing of volunteers who were not the abusing culprits has solved the problem that really only existed long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

We exhort our readers and any that they may affect to remain totally engaged in this new assault that has opened in the battle.

Please do not sit idly by and allow SNAP’s resources to be drained, or whistleblowers to be intimidated or silenced.

Please consider who these whistleblowers have been and have the potential to be: courageous victims, financially challenged Catholic parish staff member, journalists, police officers, sheriffs, prosecutors, rape crisis centers, children protection agencies.

It is a Catholic parish staff person who reported the Pittsburgh Diocese Catholic priest who has been indicted by state and now federal prosecutors on child pornography charges. This is this week’s news not the news of a decade ago. We salute this courageous employee but we know that if the tactics are now being employed in Missouri against SNAP continue a great chill will descend and children will be violated by child pornography and rape and sodomy.

These are not anonymous children. These are our children.

Today of all days, we thank you for being NSAC News subscribers.

We pledge to keep faith with you.

We ask that you do not lose heart and that you look seriously, deeply, and with intent inside yourself for what is the right and just path.

— Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
— Contact: KristineWard@hotamail.com, 937-272-0308/

 

December 28, 2011

Editoral

The Innocents

On this day that the Roman Catholic Church dedicates to the Holy Innocents, NSAC honors the survivors of clergy and nun sexual abuse and their families.

Indeed, you are the true innocents.

We are awed by your lived tenaciousness to the truth.

For the knowledge you have brought to society about the horrors of sexual abuse, we express our undying gratitude.

For the actions you have taken to keep other innocents from bearing in their bodies, souls, and spirits the deep wounds and scars that you bear each day, we are profoundly indebted to you.

While we know what is required of the Roman Catholic Church to address this massive crisis is full justice for all of you, we do believe that this Church of sign and symbol can and should begin to look honestly at itself aided by its rituals.

Therefore, we are proposing that the Church acknowledge the victims of sexual abuse and its own guilt on this feast. In no way, does this dishonor the victims who gave their lives to save the Lord’s and for whom this feast was created.

The victims of clergy and nun sexual abuse and cover-up by bishops, cardinals, curia and popes have been soul murdered.

In the ritual of its liturgies and the rhythm of its Church year and certainly within its Christmastide the Church should seek the beginnings of offering solace that sticks.

We are honored to walk with you, the survivors, and your families and also the families of those who committed suicide.

We wish you well this day and for all of your days.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
— Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

__________

December 22, 2011

Editoral

Yet Another Deadline Passes, Still No Report

Today is the first day of Winter.

We call this to your attention not because we think you might have missed it as you go about your Christmas preparations but because the Vatican made a self announced pledge earlier this year that it would submit its 14 year overdue report to the United Nations on the protection and rights of children in the Autumn.

As of today, Autumn of 2011 is history and the report is still awaited.

The U. N. Committee on the Rights of the Child mandates reporting every five years, beginning with the initial report in 1997, by all of the governments that are signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Vatican, which is the only religion to have a permanent observer at the UN, is a signatory to this Convention.

Perhaps the Vatican believes, and with good reason, that no formal report is really necessary since all that one needs to do is read the newspapers and watch and listen to the broadcast news to see how the Vatican is complying with its international obligations regarding the protection and rights of children.

One might be inclined to think that the near nigh celebration of the birth of the Christ Child might have nudged the protection and rights of children to a higher notch in the minds of Vatican officials.

Among our readers, as well as throughout the country and the world, there are differences in critical thought about the value, use, effectiveness and, of course, the financing of the United Nations.

But this isn’t about judgment of the United Nations.

This is about how the Catholic Church keeps its promises.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
Contact: 937-272-0308/ KristineWard@hotmail.com

__________

“Also standing outside the church was Paul Kellen and Stan Doherty, protestors holding posters featuring the faces of children identified as those who had been victims of abuse by Catholic priests in a highly publicized scandal first reported in the United States in 2002. They were victims whose allegations against priests included several Boston clergy, and eventually led to a number of allegations against priests in New Hampshire, as well.”

http://bedford-nh.patch.com/articles/community-welcomes-bishop-peter-libasci#photo-8656657

December 4, 2011

click on VIDEO to view Paul’s comments

NH Welcomes Bishop Libasci

Pews inside St. Joseph Cathedral were filled with parishioners who came to see Libasci installed as the 10th Bishop of the Manchester Diocese.

Nearly 1,000 people jammed the sanctuary of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Manchester Thursday afternoon to witness the installation of Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci, who officially became the 10th Catholic Bishop of the Manchester Diocese Dec. 8.

Dozens of Catholic church clergy and laymen, as well as Knights of Columbus members, fully decked in feathered hats, dark capes and white gloves, lined up outside the church to wait for Libasci to move to the head of the procession.

Once inside the cathedral, Libasci stood off to the side in the narthex while the long line of Catholic dignitaries filed past him and into the fully-packed sanctuary, including Bishop John McCormack, whose recent retirement prompted the search for a new church leader.

Libasci spoke casually before delivering his first homily – acknowledging those he left behind at his former outpost in Long Island, and getting a few laughs in the process.

“To all of our civic leaders and all gathered here at this church, and all of you following this liturgy on television here in New England and on Long Island as well, because I told them they couldn’t come – they had to let you have the seats here. Very happily they all are able to watch on television, and I mean that most sincerely, wearing the cufflinks they gave me – and there’s the proof,” Libasci said flashing the jewelry on his sleeve to cameras on both sides of the sanctuary.

Libasci previously served as Auxiliary Bishop for the Eastern Vicariate of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York. He will oversee all 90-plus Catholic parishes within New Hampshire.

Aside from those who had tickets for the actual installation in Manchester, Thursday’s ceremony was also broadcast live on three different Catholic cable television stations; webcast via local television station WMUR, and the action was chronicled through social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.

Standing outside the church was Dan Bostrom of Montauk, New York, whose wife Lynda was inside, one of those who got a ticket to attend the installation ceremony.

“He’s a wonderful man. I think everyone up here will come to love him,” Bostrom said. “He’s a sweet man and a very real person. He was instrumental in helping us build our church. He’s truly a unifier.”

Also standing outside the church was Paul Kellen and Stan Doherty, protestors holding posters featuring the faces of children identified as those who had been victims of abuse by Catholic priests in a highly publicized scandal first reported in the United States in 2002. They were victims whose allegations against priests included several Boston clergy, and eventually led to a number of allegations against priests in New Hampshire, as well.

“We don’t understand why people come to honor the criminals,” said Kellen, a member of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

He said he doesn’t know much about Libasci’s background, and said he believes a majority of those within the church are actually good Christian men.

“I’m a cradle Catholic – I still go to Mass every Sunday,” Kellen said. “Once they train you to go to Mass every Sunday, I figure it’s a good a time as any to take the time to hold up these signs and remind people of the children who suffered.”

He said he and others have continued to stand outside Catholic churches in Boston every week for the past decade; he’ll continue to be a voice for those who were victimized.

“When enough people care enough, things will change,” Kellen said.

December 2, 2011

Editoral

World Survivors Day

Yesterday was World Aids Day.

We don’t begrudge the attention on those who suffer from this awful disease and those working to eradicate it.

We do hope that someday there will be a World Survivors Day where attention is heavily and rightly focused on the courage of those who came and come forward, those who remain in their silence, the families of those who committed suicide and those who were murdered.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” – Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird.

In the midst of the Ireland reports where even a Church panel has had to conclude that devastating choices were made in a cleric over child culture, and less than a week from Pope Benedict’s hubris in his remarks to the New York bishops that all institutions should be held to high standards regarding sexual abuse of children, we think it’s a good idea to pause and remember who really has been hurt, whose lives are plagued, and whose spirits and bodies bear the scars daily.

We salute all survivors and their families, the families of those who committed suicide and those murdered. We honor all of you who have nobly made it possible for those chained in a sorrowful and debilitating aloneness to know comfort in companionship.

In doing this we hope that someday will become a closer day where sorrow is lifted, heaviness is banished, flashbacks are obliterated, and justice spreads across the years.

In this spirit, we ask our readers to think out being in Bostonthe weekend of January 6-8 to mark the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the massive media attention that came to be known as theBoston incarnation of the scandal.

Here’s the blog for more details: www.10thanniversarycelebration.blogspot.com There are early bird rates.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
— Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308/

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is a volunteer organization of men and women of goodwill working to support survivors of sexual abuse, educate society and promote legislation reforms.

Posted on Wed, Dec. 07, 2011   http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/07/3307585/the-stars-editorial-a-victims.html

Church must learn from past

The Star’s editorial | A victim’s courageous stand against child molesters

Child molesters rely on intimidation, silence and misplaced trust to gain access to their victims. And in Kansas City and elsewhere, the Catholic Church too often has allowed those conditions to breed.

In a three-part series this week, The Kansas City Star presented a horrific story of childhoods ruined and families devastated because of alleged sexual abuse by a priest.

The story could be told only because a man who says he was molested as a boy, Jon David Couzens, made the wrenching decision to speak out.

Couzens, 41, told The Star that a priest, Monsignor Thomas O’Brien, molested him and three Catholic school classmates after they were chosen to help serve Mass at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Independence in the early 1980’s.

Couzens said that O’Brien, who has faced multiple accusations of sexual abuse of children but denies any involvement, told him and the three other boys they would be expelled from the church and disowned by their parents if they told anyone of the abuse.

One of the boys committed suicide at age 14. Another struggled with drugs and alcohol and was himself accused of molesting a child. He died in a traffic accident at age 31. The fourth boy says he has no memory of being abused by O’Brien.

By telling his story, Couzens has shined a light into dark recesses, the existence of which church leaders have long denied. For that, a few of the church’s more radical defenders are trying to impeach Couzens’ character.

But, after struggling for decades with guilt and shame, Couzens showed great courage in telling his story. Because of him and others who are speaking out, people in positions of authority will find it harder to harm children.

Couzens’ story is a painful one for the local Catholic Church. But leaders here and elsewhere must use its lessons to ensure that no other child or family will suffer the consequences of misdeeds committed under the church’s auspices.

 

This is the first part of a three-day series based on two new lawsuits that capture the turmoil that has occurred in many lives ever since allegations first began coming to light about abuse by priests three decades ago.

Reporter Judy L. Thomas, who has been covering the issue for more than 10 years, examined two dozen other lawsuits for these stories, looked at old police reports and spent three months extensively interviewing members of three families and former classmates of alleged victims.

In the retelling of their stories, many of the quotes and descriptions are based on sources’ recollections.

To reach Judy L. Thomas, call 816-234-4334/ or send email to jthomas@kcstar.com

The altar boys’ secret

Four young lives, innocence lost. One priest, later sent for treatment. Decades of silence and secrets. And finally, revelations as a 30-year mystery unravels.

By JUDY L. THOMAS, The Kansas City Star

Part 1 – Sunday, December 4, 2011: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/03/3299846/the-altar-boys-secret.html#ixzz1fZeisQ6D

The four boys left first-hour class early and headed over to church.

For the next hour they would be serving morning Mass at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Independence — an honorable assignment that filled their parents with pride.

The boys wanted everything to be just right.

They dutifully pulled the paper-thin communion wafers from the refrigerator and arranged them in a brass bowl, poured the red wine into crystal pitchers and draped the cloth over a large gold chalice.

They worked in silence, their motions second nature by this time.

Then footsteps, dress shoes clacking down the stairs leading to the sacristy.

Monsignor walked in, dressed in his usual black pants and shirt, clerical collar and dark cardigan. Without a word, he closed the door and kicked a wooden wedge underneath.

Jon David Couzens, a sixth-grader and the youngest of the four, got a knot in his stomach.

What he says happened next has haunted him for decades.

Monsignor backed the four altar boys up against the wall, shoulder to shoulder. Then he forced them to perform sexual acts on each other and on him.

When it was over, just minutes before Mass was to begin, he issued a warning.

“If you ever tell,” he said, his gruff voice booming in the long, narrow room, “you’ll be kicked out of the Catholic Church, your parents will disown you, and you’ll die and go to hell.”

For 30 years, no one breathed a word.

Some secrets, with no one to give them voice, stay buried for a lifetime.

In the years following that day in 1981, two of the altar boys died young, splintering lives and families in the aftermath. For decades, Jon David Couzens, the youngest altar boy, kept a tortured silence.

And then earlier this year, all of the vivid memories and the indignation were stirred up again when the local diocese came under fire in the wake of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan’s indictment on child pornography charges. Couzens realized that if he didn’t speak out, the story would never be told — and no one would truly understand what he says happened to him, Brian Teeman and Chuck Caffrey.

The fourth altar boy in Couzens’ account says he has no memory of the incident.

For Couzens, the decision was still difficult. In coming forward, he would open old wounds and forever change the perspectives of two grieving families. But on Sept. 1 this year, Couzens — now a 41-year-old Kansas City-area plumber — filed a lawsuit against Monsignor Thomas O’Brien.

Today, Couzens suddenly finds himself at the heart of a network of others who seek him out because they too say they suffered sex abuse as children. And he finds that he can help.

O’Brien, named in more than two dozen lawsuits in recent years, denies Couzens’ allegations.

Now 85, O’Brien says he does not remember Couzens or the other altar boys.

“This is all 30 years ago,” he told The Kansas City Star. “There’s just no truth to any of these things.

‘Is there any end to this? It’s just killing me.”

Jon David Couzens had always wanted to be an altar boy.

Born in 1970 and raised in a devout Catholic family, he was the youngest of three children and attended first through eighth grade at Nativity of Mary School. His wholesome good looks — and those piercing blue eyes — made him stand out, classmates recall.

Like most Catholic children, Jon David, as everyone called him, was taught that priests were men of God. Parents trusted the priests with their children and considered it an honor if Father stopped by for a visit or accepted an invitation to dinner. Back then, it was unthinkable to hear the words “priest” and “sex abuse” in the same sentence.

But for Couzens, that image shattered when he was 9.

He says a relative who was a priest started dropping by the house more often, and eventually was taking Jon David for drives. On one Saturday afternoon, they drove to St. Aloysius Catholic Church at 11th Street and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City.

“He fondled me and had me fondle him,” Couzens recalls. “I was petrified.”

Something about those visits didn’t feel right to his mother, and she put an end to them. But then Couzens met O’Brien.

The monsignor, though not yet assigned to Nativity, often came around the church, sometimes filling in for another priest. One day, he asked Couzens, then 10, to help move some heavy items at the rectory. Couzens said when he sat down to rest on the edge of the bed, the monsignor placed his hand on Couzens’ private parts.

“You’re doing a good thing,” Couzens recalls O’Brien saying. “God’s going to bless you.”

The incidents became more and more frequent — in the sacristy, in the confessional, at the rectory, even at Scouting events.

The church sponsored Boy Scout Troop 178, and although O’Brien wasn’t a leader, he attended troop functions, Couzens says.

One weekend camping trip still makes him shudder.

“O’Brien showed up at the campout,” Couzens says. “And sure enough, he came into the little cabin when the other boys had sneaked out, and he got me that night. I peed the cot, and I was so ashamed and embarrassed because all the boys were going to make fun of me.”

Couzens was late for breakfast the next morning, crying and begging the Scoutmaster to call his mom. She made the 2½-hour trip and spent the day with him. When it was time for her to leave, he grabbed her legs and wouldn’t let go.

“I was just sobbing, ‘Please take me home! Please take me with you!’ But she didn’t want the other boys to call me a puss, so she made me stay. She thought she was doing the right thing.”

Some days, Couzens said, he couldn’t face going to school, afraid of running into O’Brien.

“I would go get a thermometer and stick it under my lamp and then tell my mom I had a fever so I wouldn’t have to go,” he said. “It was that bad.”

Couzens didn’t know it, but stories had been circulating about O’Brien for years.

At St. Elizabeth Parish in Kansas City, O’Brien’s previous assignment, O’Brien and his friend, the Rev. Thomas Reardon, had become known as the “party priests.” Several boys later alleged in lawsuits and interviews that the priests sponsored get-togethers where alcohol was served to their teenage guests, let boys drive their cars, left dirty magazines around the rectory for them to read and talked about sex in graphic terms.

The priests used their positions of power to prey on teenage boys, getting them drunk, masturbating in front them and in some cases sexually abusing them, the victims alleged.

Years later, some of those victims joined a lawsuit that included 10 other priests. The Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese settled with the 47 plaintiffs in 2008 for $10 million.

Some parents and at least two victims said they complained about O’Brien to Catholic officials during the 1970s, but received no help. The diocese said last week those conversations took place between specific people, and that those people could comment better than the diocese.

The diocese had revealed in 2002 that it had received five separate complaints accusing O’Brien of sexually abusing minors. The allegations first surfaced in 1983, the diocese said, and all involved claims of “inappropriate touching” of teenage boys. O’Brien was sent for residential psychiatric treatment from October 1983 until June 1984 and also was treated for alcoholism, the diocese said. Upon his return, O’Brien was assigned as a chaplain at St. Joseph Health Center, where he served until retiring in 2002. In announcing his retirement, the diocese said that O’Brien was no longer allowed to present himself as a priest.

In May this year, allegations about another priest touched off an explosion of new lawsuits and even criminal charges.

Ratigan was charged with possession of child pornography after disturbing pictures were discovered on his laptop computer. The diocese responded by implementing a five-point plan that included hiring an independent ombudsman and commissioning an internal investigation to address the concerns. Even so, a grand jury later indicted Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese for failing to report suspected child abuse in the Ratigan case, making Finn the highest-ranking Catholic official in the nation to face criminal prosecution for his handling of a child sex-abuse case.

Couzens filed his lawsuit in September, one of more than 20 that have been filed against several priests since Ratigan’s arrest. He named both O’Brien and the diocese as defendants.

The diocese responded to the lawsuit by detailing O’Brien’s history and urging anyone with information about the sexual abuse of a child to report it to law enforcement and the diocese’s ombudsman.

Last week, the diocese appointed a director of child and youth protection, a new position created to ensure the diocese is following its policies on protecting children.

Couzens said the four altar boys were trapped by O’Brien three times in the church sacristy in the early 1980s. He recalls the first incident in detail, even three decades later.

“It was like in slow motion,” Couzens said. “When the door closed, it echoed forever and ever. Then it was eerie quiet.”

The boys didn’t look up.

“We just kept doing what we were doing,” Couzens said. “I just froze and was screaming on the inside.”

The altar boys’ robes were hanging on a long pole along the wall, and with a sweep of his hand, Couzens said, the monsignor pushed them aside.

“Then he shoved us all by our shoulders with our backs against the wall, and he made us drop our pants and he dropped his and made us do things to each other and then do things to him,” Couzens said. “No emotions. Like that was the way it was supposed to be done.

“We just looked straight ahead and tried to zone it out, just waiting for it to be over.”

Afterward, Couzens said, the monsignor issued his warning about what would happen if they told.

“Why would a boy not believe that, coming from a priest?” Couzens said.

He said O’Brien then ordered the shell-shocked boys to get dressed, put on their robes and help serve Mass to their teachers and classmates.

“We were like zombies,” Couzens said. “After Mass, we went back to class. I remember getting sick and going to the office. I had to call my mom at work to come and get me.”

The boys, he said, heeded O’Brien’s warning.

“We never talked about it. Never spoke a word.”

Indeed, the stepfather of one altar boy, Chuck Caffrey, was actually more concerned about a different son.

In 1982, Tom Caffrey Sr. decided it was time to have a visit with Tom Jr.

For years, he’d heard talk about O’Brien being a little too friendly with the boys. Now, Tom Jr. was an eighth-grader at Nativity, and he’d been hanging around the church a lot lately, running errands for Monsignor O’Brien.

Caffrey summoned Tom Jr. for a chat.

“Look, if there’s anything you need to talk about, come to me and we’ll deal with it,” he said.

But he had no suspicions that it was Chuck who already had been abused.

Then, in the fall of 1983, Tom Jr. approached his father.

“Monsignor’s weird.”

“What do you mean?”

Tom Jr. told his dad he was being sexually abused.

Shaken, Caffrey said he told another priest at Nativity after Sunday Mass. The next day, the priest stopped by the High Boy restaurant that Caffrey ran to tell him he had an appointment that Friday with Bishop John J. Sullivan.

“I met with Bishop Sullivan, the attorney for the diocese, and the chancellor,” Caffrey said. “About 10 days after my meeting, Monsignor O’Brien announced from the altar that he was taking a sabbatical. He said, ‘I’m so happy. I’ve wanted to do this for so long.’ ”

At the time, Caffrey had been driving a carpool that included Tom Jr. and two altar boys, Chuck Caffrey and Brian Teeman.

“He was real nice, clean-cut,” Caffrey said of Brian.

Yet something seemed amiss. Over the next two months, Caffrey said, he noticed a change in the boy.

He could watch Brian in the rearview mirror.

“Brian would sit there and look up at me very longingly,” Caffrey said. “I kept thinking, ‘This young man wants to talk to me about something.’ But I really didn’t know what to do, how to handle it. I wasn’t but much of a kid myself.”

Brian Teeman’s parents, Don and Rosemary, hadn’t heard the talk about O’Brien. And Brian never spoke about Monsignor.

We never suspected anything,” Don Teeman said. “You didn’t ask about a priest’s history. Especially 28 years ago.”

The Teemans were devoted parents who worked hard — Don at the Hallmark Cards distribution center, Rosemary at Western Electric — so they could afford to send Brian and his younger sister, Jackie, to Catholic schools. They were pleased that Brian was spending time at the church and had continued to be an altar boy after entering Archbishop O’Hara High School — something many other boys his age had stopped doing.

“He was a freshman in high school and he was up there serving Mass,” Don Teeman said. “Most kids would say, ‘I’m above this now. ’ ”

Brian was a “perfect gentleman,” his friends and family say. He was tall — 5 foot 9 at age 14 — and he loved sports, especially basketball, baseball and skiing. Brian also liked to hunt, which he and his dad often did together.

“He was good at whatever he did,” Don Teeman said. “He wasn’t the best in the class, he wasn’t the smartest, but he had good grades, and I never, ever heard him say a bad word.

“I used to kid him. I’d say, ‘I think you’d make a good priest.’ ”

At the start of Brian’s freshman year, his parents noticed something.

“He isolated himself from us,” Rosemary said. “He was quiet, stayed in his room.”

They figured it had something to do with the transition from Nativity to O’Hara, a much bigger school.

Nov. 1, 1983, was one of those cold, dreary, rainy fall days. Perfect hunting weather. It was opening day of quail season, and Don and Brian planned to go that weekend. A few days earlier, Don had bought Brian a 20-gauge Springfield shotgun from a neighbor.

“I said, ‘That would make my son a good little safe gun.’ That’s what you want them to start out with,” Don Teeman said.

Brian was waiting outside when sister Jackie got home from school, locked out of the house. She had the key with her that day because he had planned on going to basketball tryouts after school.

The two went inside, and Brian headed to his room to get started on homework.

Around 4:30 p.m., their mother told the kids they needed to run to the grocery store.

“Mom, I don’t want to go,” Brian said.

“Come on, we won’t be that long. We’re just going to pick up a few things.”

“I don’t want to go, Mom. You go.”

“OK, Jackie, let’s go.”

Rosemary and Jackie came home an hour later. As they turned in the driveway, Rosemary noticed that the light was on in the master bedroom.

“Why would Brian be in our bedroom?” she thought. “The kids never go in our bedroom.”

She and Jackie unloaded the car, unlocked the front door of their one-story wood frame house and stepped inside.

Rosemary looked toward the bedroom and screamed. The groceries crashed in a heap on the floor.

__

‘I didn’t want to get yelled at. Love, Brian.’

Memories are all that remain for Don and Rosemary Teeman of their son, Brian, an altar boy who committed suicide 28 years ago.

By JUDY L. THOMAS, The Kansas City Star

Part 2 – Monday, December 5, 2011: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/04/3301969/i-didnt-want-to-get-yelled-at.html

An open box of shells lay on the bed.

A shotgun was on the floor, Brian Teeman’s lifeless body next to it.

His mother, just home from grocery shopping, saw her 14-year-old son through a doorway. Hysterical, she pushed Brian’s younger sister into a corner and ordered her not to move.

Then she rushed into the master bedroom, standing over Brian, still dressed in the dark blue pants, blue button-down shirt and white Nike tennis shoes he’d worn to his Catholic high school.

She spotted a green sticky note on the edge of the white bedspread. She picked it up, hands trembling, and recognized Brian’s handwriting.

All it said was, “I didn’t want to get yelled at. Love, Brian.”

It made no sense.

Rosemary Teeman knew nothing of Brian’s ordeal — that two years earlier, in 1981, Brian and three other altar boys had allegedly been cornered in a church room and molested on several occasions by a priest who warned them not to tell.

Dazed, she shoved the note into the pocket of her trench coat. Then she called her husband, who was working a 12-hour shift at the Hallmark Cards warehouse in Liberty, and the Independence police. She and daughter Jackie, 13, stumbled to their neighbor’s to wait.

As soon as Don got Rosemary’s message, the Vietnam vet sped straight to the emergency room at an Independence hospital, assuming that’s where Brian would be. But they knew nothing about any gunshot victim.

When Don arrived at his house, the police were there, along with their neighbor’s son, who kept him from the door.

“Don, you can’t go in the house.”

“What do you mean I can’t go in the house?”

“The police don’t want you in there.”

After the police left, some friends came and cleaned things up as best they could. The Teemans, numb and heartbroken, returned to the house that night.

Rosemary kept Brian’s note to herself.

“I clutched it in my trench coat all evening,” she said. “I kept it and kept it and was so puzzled, thinking what does this mean? I didn’t know what to do with it. And I eventually threw it in the fireplace.”

The police report said Brian died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Although the Teemans knew Brian had taken his life, they couldn’t accept it. They told everyone the shooting was accidental. And when the medical examiner wrote “suicide” on Brian’s death certificate, an irate Don pressured her to change it to “undetermined.”

“I called and raised hell about it,” Don said. “I said, ‘You have no proof.’ ”

The couple suffered in silence, not even telling Jackie the truth.

“My parents and Rosemary’s parents, they’re all strict Catholics,” Don said. “It would have put a hardship on everybody. I was protecting my son. I didn’t want it out that he’d killed himself.”

Don blamed himself, not only for putting the gun in the bedroom but wondering if maybe he’d pushed Brian too hard to go out for high school sports. Rosemary blamed Don, too, especially for buying that gun.

“The entire blame was on his shoulders,” Rosemary said. “It was very rough.”

Police interviewed Brian’s friends and assistant principal, asking if he’d been acting strange or depressed.

One of the four altar boys, Chuck Caffrey, said he’d talked to Brian after school at Archbishop O’Hara that day. He told police that Brian had mentioned that he didn’t think he had many friends but added that Brian didn’t appear to be too upset about it.

Another of the altar boys told police that Brian had spent the night at his house a few days earlier and seemed fine.

The last altar boy, Jon David Couzens, then an eighth-grader, was horrified to learn of Brian’s death.

“When I got the phone call about Brian saying it was an accident, in my heart I knew it wasn’t,” he said. “I knew the turmoil he was going through, and knowing it just did me in.”

Still, he remained silent, remembering the priest’s threat if they ever told anyone.

“It just kept playing in my head that you’re gonna go to hell and your parents are going to disown you.”

They sat shoulder to shoulder, row after row, in the wooden pews at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Independence.

Young boys and girls in their dark blue Catholic school uniforms left class to come here, to say goodbye to their friend, their freshman classmate.

Just weeks before, Brian stood at the altar in his all-white robe, cinched at the waist with a braided rope.

Now he was next to the altar in a closed casket wearing the same brown suit bought for his eighth-grade graduation just last spring, his injuries from a shotgun wound too severe to show.

The night before, so many came to the funeral home to pay their respects that the line stretched down the block.

Now about 400 packed the church — at least that’s how many signed the guest book.

One person was missing. Monsignor Thomas O’Brien.

The priest officiating at the service told mourners that O’Brien couldn’t be there because he was too devastated.

Couzens recoiled at the comment. Two years before, Couzens alleged in a 2011 lawsuit, O’Brien had lined Jon David, Brian and two other altar boys against a wall in a closed room and forced them to perform sexual acts on him and themselves.

Couzens now sat at the funeral, not able to look at the other two altar boys who shared the secret.

“I felt like I was in a snow globe, in the spotlight,” he recalls. “I was terrified someone would figure it out.”

Within days of the funeral, Tom Caffrey Sr. called Independence police. Brian’s death needed to be investigated, he told them.

Caffrey, who had driven Brian in a carpool, had detected a change in the boy. He suspected abuse — he said he had just heard from one of his sons that O’Brien was molesting boys. He’d already met with the bishop, and O’Brien had been sent away for treatment.

Caffrey said a detective came to his restaurant to interview him.

He recalls the detective telling him, “Everything indicated suicide, but we did not have a motive. Now we may have a motive.”

Caffrey never heard from the police again. Brian Teeman’s case file does not contain any reference to an interview with Caffrey or any mention of O’Brien.

The detective’s supervisor, now retired, says he doesn’t remember the case or the accusation.

For his part, O’Brien denies all allegations of sexual abuse.

The Teemans, grief-stricken, moved to another house as soon as they could.

“I just couldn’t stay there any more,” Rosemary Teeman said.

Back at the school, Couzens felt like he was suffocating, that the world was closing in on him. He just wanted to forget the shame.

“I avoided people and started getting sick more at school,” he said.

When he got to high school, Couzens destroyed as many painful reminders as he could.

“Anything that said Nativity on it, I got rid of. I threw away my Boy Scout uniform and set my yearbooks on fire.”

By his senior year in high school, Couzens was spiraling further downward, struggling with anger issues and suicidal thoughts.

“Right before my 18th birthday, I sat on the edge of the bed with my dad’s deer rifle in my mouth,” he said. “I had the butt of the gun on the floor, I was leaning over and I had my thumb on the trigger.”

After graduation, he’d become so agitated and moody that his mother suggested he go see a priest at Nativity.

“I sat down and tried to tell him what happened with O’Brien, and he looked at me, real condescending, and said, ‘Well, did you ejaculate?’” Couzens recalled. “I got up and started bawling and ran out. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.”

Couzens worked for a modeling agency for several years, posing for department store ads and bridal magazines. He became a plumber like his father, joined a Baptist church, went on mission trips.

But over the years, he remained angry, unable to trust.

“I’m Italian,” he said. “I’m supposed to be hugging and kissing and touchy-feely. But I’m just numb.”

Then came the phone call in June 2011.

His best friend since fifth grade was on the line, crying so hard she could barely talk. She revealed that her daughter, who attended St. Patrick School in the Northland, possibly had been photographed by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, the Kansas City priest now facing state and federal child pornography charges.

“She was devastated, bawling her eyes out,” Couzens said, tears starting to flow as he recalled the conversation. “She said, ‘When is it going to stop?’

“It just touched too close to home. And I began reliving everything that happened to me and the three other boys.”

That night, Jon David Couzens made a gut-wrenching decision.

It was time to talk.

Brian Teeman’s sister, Jackie, was driving home from work in Kansas City when she returned the call.

Couzens, her old friend and classmate, had just left her a message. The two hadn’t talked in ages, but had recently reconnected on Facebook.

When he answered, Couzens sounded strange.

“I need to talk to you about something, and it’s going to be painful,” he told her.

Couzens poured out the story about the altar boys.

“I don’t even remember driving home,” Jackie said. “I got home and I called my mom and told her to get Dad on the phone.”

Don Teeman was pulling in the driveway of their rural Cass County home when Rosemary hollered at him.

“Get on the phone! Jackie wants to talk to us. It’s about Brian.”

He grabbed the phone in the shop while Rosemary listened in the house. Moments after they hung up, Don dialed Couzens’ number.

Couzens was sitting on a lawn chair in the garage, his cellphone at hand. He knew the call was coming.

And it scared him to death.

__

No longer alone

After decades of despair, former altar boy comes forward to share stories of alleged abuse with dead youth’s family. At last, there are answers — and a new cause to work for.

By JUDY L. THOMAS, The Kansas City Star

Part 3 – Tuesday, December 6, 2011: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/11/30/3303809/no-longer-alone.html

Don and Rosemary Teeman were waiting in the parking lot when Jon David Couzens drove up.

Couzens sat in his van trying to summon the strength to open the door. The Teemans’ son had committed suicide 28 years earlier. The night before last, Couzens had told them that their son was sexually abused by a priest before taking his life.

It was the worst thing he’d ever had to do. But the Teemans wanted to talk more, this time face to face. And they deserved to know everything.

Couzens had been up all night, sick to his stomach, going over and over in his head how this moment would play out. He sat there for 10 minutes, trying to keep from throwing up. It seemed like forever.

He finally climbed out and walked toward their car.

Rosemary Teeman looked at him, then opened the door and got out. They didn’t say a word, just hugged and cried.

Then they all walked to the building together, hand in hand.

As they sat around a large round table in Kansas City, Couzens told them about the abuse that he says he, Brian Teeman and two other altar boys suffered at the hands of Monsignor Thomas O’Brien and about the threat — that if they ever told, they would be kicked out of the church, their parents would disown them and they would go to hell.

As they talked, Brian’s suicide note seemed to make sense to the Teemans for the first time.

When Rosemary found Brian’s body, she found the note that said, “I didn’t want to get yelled at.”

For those 28 years, Don Teeman told Couzens, they had no clue why Brian committed suicide. Eventually, Don just took the blame and decided it had to be something he did.

But in the back of his mind, Don always wondered if something had happened to Brian at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Independence, perhaps involving sports or bullying.

Couzens recalls the emotional reaction of Don’s wife that July day:

“Rosemary stood up and hugged him and just hovered over him and said, ‘Honey, I’m so sorry I blamed you all these years.’ ”

Don replied, “I knew I wasn’t a bad dad.”

Jackie, Brian’s sister, was at the meeting, too. Now married with two children of her own, she heard her parents acknowledge for the first time that Brian committed suicide — that it wasn’t an accident.

“I had a feeling that Brian took his own life, but we never talked about it,” she said.

“As I grew up, I heard pieces about Monsignor O’Brien from all the friends that I was in school with, and I always had a thought about it, like, I wonder if that ever happened to my brother?” she said. “But nobody ever said anything to me about it.”

It took the Teemans a few days for everything to sink in.

“It was painful when we lost him, and now it’s painful knowing why he’s not here with us,” Rosemary says. “We’re going through it all over again.”

Couzens’ revelations hit another family, too.

Tom Caffrey Sr. was stunned to learn that his stepson, Chuck, was one of the four altar boys Couzens told about.

After leaving Nativity of Mary School, Chuck had lived a troubled life. When his parents split up, he went to live with a grandmother. He struggled with drugs and alcohol.

In the early 1990s, Caffrey learned that Chuck had molested a young relative when he was in junior high at Nativity — the same period that Chuck himself allegedly was being abused. When Chuck committed the abuse, Caffrey said, he would make his victim pray with him afterward.

Caffrey now wonders if his stepson was imitating his own abuse. But he’ll never get the chance to ask.

Chuck died in a crash in Texas in August 2000 when his car rear-ended a slow-moving 18-wheeler. He was 31.

The man Couzens says was the fourth altar boy told The Star last week that he had no recollection of ever being sexually abused by O’Brien.

“I don’t remember anything like that,” said the man, who was a longtime friend of Brian Teeman. “That just doesn’t sound right. I’ve got to be honest — I’m very curious because I have no memories of that.”

He said, however, that he worked for O’Brien in the rectory and witnessed troubling behavior by the monsignor, including graphic sexual language and pulling boys out of class to take to the rectory.

Two months after his meeting with the Teemans, Couzens paced nervously outside the diocesan chancery, preparing to speak publicly for the first time about the secret he said he’d kept for decades.

He tearfully greeted the three dozen family members, friends and former Nativity classmates who came to show their support on that sunny Sept. 1 day.

Couzens, hands and voice shaking, announced that he was filing a civil lawsuit against O’Brien and a Conception Abbey monk who Couzens said abused him as a child. The lawsuit also named the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese and Conception Abbey as defendants. A lawyer for the monk and the abbey did not return phone calls seeking a response to the lawsuit.

Five days after Couzens filed his suit, the Teemans stood with him outside the chancery, this time to announce their own lawsuit — a wrongful death case against O’Brien and the diocese.

Dozens of supporters surrounded the Teemans, who clutched photos of their son.

The family was filing the lawsuit, Jackie Teeman said, “to help protect all young children in all schools and churches from any kind of molestation like Brian endured, and to help support all the victims who have come forward and the ones who haven’t.”

Don Teeman told reporters that O’Brien should be defrocked and in prison. That hasn’t happened, he said, because of years of inaction by those who knew what was going on.

The Couzens and Teeman lawsuits allege the diocese was aware of concerns about O’Brien as early as the 1970s.

“If someone would have done something,” Don Teeman said, “maybe my son would be here today.”

The lawsuits came as the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese was in the midst of a crisis involving its handling of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who was charged in May with possessing child pornography. Those charges sparked several lawsuits against Ratigan and also a new wave of suits against other priests.

In response to the Couzens and Teeman lawsuits, the diocese said it had received a complaint in September 1983 accusing O’Brien of sexual misconduct with a different teenage boy and that O’Brien denied any wrongdoing when confronted. O’Brien was removed from his assignment as pastor of Nativity of Mary parish the following month, the diocese said, and sent for psychological evaluation and treatment in New Mexico and Washington, D.C.

After treatment, O’Brien was allowed to serve as a part-time hospital chaplain until 2002, when then-Bishop Raymond J. Boland restricted him from presenting himself as a priest.

The diocese urged anyone with knowledge of sexual abuse to make a confidential report to its ombudsman and to contact law enforcement authorities.

The two lawsuits also pushed to more than two dozen the number filed against O’Brien in recent years.

O’Brien, 85, has rarely talked to reporters about the recurring accusations — through his lawyer, he has vigorously denied them.

Last week O’Brien told The Star all the allegations were false.

Despite what’s happened, the Teemans still consider themselves Catholic.

“Once you’re a Catholic, as far as I’m concerned, you’re always a Catholic,” Don Teeman said. “I don’t blame the Catholic religion. I blame the people running it.”

But they stopped attending church regularly years ago — it was just too difficult following Brian’s death, even though they knew nothing about the alleged sex abuse. Now they go mostly for special occasions.

After their news conference, however, Rosemary longed to go to Mass and spend some time in prayer.

“I needed support,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’ll go to Harrisonville. It’ll be quiet time for me.’ But I could not make myself go in the parking lot of that church.”

The Teemans have two grandsons whom they love to dote on. One is 5, the other 11 — about the age they believe Brian was when the alleged sexual abuse began. Their grandson recently became an altar boy, but they wish the church would do away with the position altogether.

Couzens had feared he would be ostracized by coming forward. Instead, it’s been the opposite.

Angela Campbell, who attended Nativity with Couzens, went to his news conference to show support.

Brian’s death “was by far the most tragic moment any of us had ever experienced,” she said.

“It was devastating then, and it is even more so to relive it now that we have learned of the deplorable chain of events that led to Brian’s decision to take his own life,” she said. “How could these leaders of the church betray our trust and hurt my friends and our children?”

Even people who have suffered sex abuse by those other than priests have sought Couzens out.

“Jon David has carried a dark, heavy secret for most of his life,” said Teresa Allen, a member of the Baptist church that Couzens attends.

Allen said she had been sexually abused as a child.

“He is a hero, not only for those that have been abused in the name of God but for those like me,” she said of Couzens. “He has given us a voice.”

Couzens said he wants victims to see that it’s OK to talk about their abuse.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “We didn’t ask for it. It’s really not the physical part that hurts so much. It’s the emotional and mental abuse that can kill a person. And I believe that’s what drove Brian to that point.

“I thought I was alone in this for 30 years. Now I encourage people to come forward, let’s talk about it. And let’s get something done.”

A week before Thanksgiving, Couzens, his mother and the Teemans visited Brian’s grave at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Raytown.

As she watched her son at the grave, Couzens’ mother said she can’t believe she didn’t see the signs three decades ago.

“How did I miss it?” Angela Couzens said. “I start going over some of those things in my mind, and now they make sense.”

Like Jon David wanting to quit Scouts. Or getting sick at school. Or his angry outbursts.

“It makes me sick every time I think about it,” she said.

As for the guilt, she said, “I can’t even go there.”

“I just feel that as a mother I failed them,” she said. “Parents are supposed to protect their children.”

Blustery winds scattered leaves in every direction. Couzens stood back and watched in silence as Jackie and Rosemary decorated the site with an orange and gold floral arrangement and Don stuck two American flags in the ground.

When they finished, Couzens walked slowly to the grave, knelt and brushed a leaf off Brian’s stone.

And then came the tears. Couzens sobbed so hard his body shook. Jackie put her arm around him, and before long, everyone was hugging and crying.

“Brian doesn’t have a voice,” Couzens said, taking one last look at the grave. “I’ll be his voice.”

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November 22, 2011

Editorial

Ouster Lite

Cardinal Bernard Law is no longer the Archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome so the world learned in an odd announcement made by the Vatican yesterday.

The new archpriest was named but Law was not mentioned in the announcement.

One wonders why the Vatican just can’t be clear about what it’s doing and say what it means in plain English, Italian, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Latin and Chinese.

The shuffling of archpriests comes three weeks shy of the 9th anniversary of Law’s resignation as the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston in the full blaze of the revelations of the Boston incarnation of the clergy and religious sister sexual abuse scandal.

For nine long years, survivors and their families and the families of those victims who committed suicide have endured this slap in the face on top of all of the scars their bodies and souls bear.

In a post Penn State world, the oddity of Law vaporizing as the Archpriest of Mary Major stands starkly as another indictment against the Church for using veiled niceties when a simple and long overdue “he’s out” should have been the play and the call of the day.

Of course, while Law is unable to vote in the next conclave – and should not have been allowed to vote in the last — he retains the title of high rank in the Church and no pontiff has lifted his colorful hat.

The triggering event for this changing of the guard at the Vatican ground where Law was kicked upstairs seems to be Law’s 80th birthday, November 4.

If that’s the case, a new Dean of the College of Cardinals needs to named tout suite. The current position holder is Cardinal Angelo Sodano. He is 84.

Sodano’s efforts to protect Legionnaire founder Marcial Marciel from being outed or removed plus his nepotic largesse toward his nephew in the financial plundering of parish properties in the United States slated for closure should be more than enough to eject him.

But the band plays on the Vatican version of do as we say, not as we do.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308/

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November 17, 2011

Editorial

Diversion, Indeed

The Clay County, Missouri Prosecutor, Daniel White let Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese Bishop Robert Finn off the hook this week with the kid glove treatment of meetings instead of criminal charges for his admitted non-reporting of child pornography by a diocesan priest, Shawn Ratigan.

Finn faces charges for non-reporting in neighboring Jackson County.

We are appalled, amazed and flat out stunned that any prosecutor would make this deal – which is called a diversion program — downwind from the Penn State scandal, Finn’s admission, and the indictment of Finn in Jackson County.

The White-Finn Arrangement is an agreement that Finn will meet monthly with White to let White know about abuse involving minors in Clay County of which Finn is aware. Really?

Mr. White must be dreadfully unaware of the audit process of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has in place as its answer to ongoing monitoring of sexual abuse in its dioceses.

This process is based totally on self-reporting and its lack of any power, subpoena or otherwise, on the part of the person across the table from the bishop or his deputized audit person, renders it impotent.

The $3.2 million settlement reached this week with the family of a victim of former Archdiocese of Chicago priest Daniel McCormack says in bold relief how ineffective the Bishops in the United States are at self-monitoring and reporting.

The Daniel McCormack case happened after the US Bishops produced their self reporting audit system in 2002. McCormack was prosecuted in 2007 for post-2002 abuse in an archdiocese run by Cardinal Francis Law, the prime author of the Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The bishops have however proved themselves to be effective at deflection and diversion.

We wonder if the Clay County prosecutor is offering this diversion arrangement to all the folks in Clay County who admit to crimes. Maybe just the ones who know about but don’t report the crimes for which he does bring charges? White also announced this week that a Clay County grand jury indicted Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese priest, Shawn Ratigan on three felony charges of child pornography.

If you don’t think Mr. White arrived at the right conclusion for Bishop Finn’s admission of non-reporting of knowledge of child pornography by a priest of his diocese, we urge you to tell him.

Here’s his email address: daniel_white@claycopa.com

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308/

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November 15, 2011

Editorial

The Gall of It

It takes chutzpah for men whose number includes an indicted non-reporter to sidle up to Penn State with a coy partnership proposition saying they are “eager to invest” in a “major national campaign to see the scourge of abuse faced head-on.”.

But Archbishop Timothy Dolan, head of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops did just that at a press conference yesterday.

Some quotes:

  • Whenever this painful issue comes into view again … it reopens a wound in the church as well, because nobody has suffered more from this than the Catholic community in the US.
  • This shows that the scourge of abuse is societal, not limited to one faith, or to priests. It’s widespread, it’s everywhere.
  • One of the things we’ve learned tragically is that it’s people with positions of trust that what complicated our own crisis.

Chutzpah by the bucket load.

Dolan grabbed Penn State like the brass ring on the carousel and devoured the opportunity to say it’s “widespread … not limited to priests…”

You could almost hear the drum roll under the theme music of “everybody does it” playing under the video of the mudslide of the high moral ground.

And this one takes the cake: “we’ve learned … its people with positions of trust.”

Whipped like the filling of a crepe suzette inside the dough of “tragically” Dolan worked to have people believe that without massive news coverage of the Bishops’ cover-up of the rape and sodomy of children these spiritual leaders had until 2002 only a blurry idea that positions of prominent moral standing carried high responsibility – but now they’ve learned.

Notice that while there was a predictable question about Penn State at the opening press conference of the USCCB meeting, Dolan and his fellow bishops were left off scot free on the issue of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City/St. Joseph, Missouri.

Not even a subtle inference let alone a direct ask about their indicted brother bishop, non reporting, and child pornography.

Nothing stands starker in the Catholic Church and Penn State scandal comparisons than the firings. That would be Penn State 3, Bishops 0.

And these men want to “partner” in a campaign to face sexual abuse head on?

Good grief!

—Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308

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November 9, 2011

Editorial

The Color of Shame without the Hail Marys

I am from a family of blue bloods.

Penn State Blue.

From the deluge of news coverage you know the broad outlines of this story: a 10 year silence about a Penn State assistant football coach who abused young boys sometimes in the facilities of this legendary football powerhouse, the grand jury investigation, the knowledge that the abuse stretches back 15 years, the arrest of the former assistant coach who ran a program for troubled youth, too, an emergency Sunday meeting of the university’s board, the removal of the athletic director and the vice president for finance and their arraignment on perjury charges for lying to the grand jury the university president who all too quickly backed these top administrators, and in the midst of it the Icon – JoPa, Penn State’s head football coach.

And within the span of less time than it takes for the holiday bowl games schedule, the Camelot that has been filled with Merlin’s wizardry has become Mordred unmasked.

To a family that understands “ measure it” from the matriarch as not a recipe direction but a demand to get every last inch for a first down, the shock and sadness go deep like a wide receiver.

This Blue family stretches from a generation who went to college football games in suits, –yes, suits with skirts – followed by cocktail parties at fraternities to a generation that tweets the stats and thinks a fraternity is a name for a rock band, a bad name for a rock band.

While the shock is deep and explosive in its suddenness and our immediate concern for the youngest and most recent of us on the campuses keenly real, the knowledge of what must be done is sure.

To whom much is given, much is expected.

Joe Paterno’s coaching career must end. Today. Not after the game with Nebraska on Saturday. Not at the end of the season. Today.

Graham Spanier the University president must be removed. Today.

Michael McQueary, the grad assistant who is now a coach, must be gone. Today.

In the face of the absolute heinousness of child sexual abuse and the neglect of the child by Penn State authorities which allowed other children to be molested is the abdication of all the underpinnings of success with honor.

Nothing gets set aright if there is hedging.

But resignation and removal are only the beginning.

The drive to begin the long and perhaps unattainable fight for Penn State’s redemption must be led by Paterno in a fierce and unyielding battle to find the victims coupled with an unstinting drive for the legislative changes that need to be made by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to protect children from sexual abuse and give victims their day in court.

This is a stanza in Penn State’s alma mater: “Let no act of ours bring shame to one heart that loves thy name.”

Now that shame does blanket the Nittany Valley only the pick and shovel work of determined reform with the child at the center is worthy of being how the game should be played.

Pennsylvania is Catholic territory. Given the reaction of Penn State Country to this massive moral failure with its near complete parallel to the saga of abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, uneasy should rest the heads that wear miters.

Catholics have obligations here. No longer can there be sideline standing. The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown which encompasses Happy Valley has an excruciatingly bad record on sexual abuse. The Philadelphia Grand Jury gives the measure of the state of things in Catholicism in the Keystone State as well.

To be shocked by what has happened at Penn State, to expect accountability, to weigh the sending of children to this institution, to reconsider where to put one’s money by current students, parents and alumni alike and not to ask and demand at the very baseline the same from Catholic Church and its leaders who have repeatedly been given reverential passes is a circumstance worthy only of a Dante ranking.

Out of the ashes of the scandal of St. Joe can arise the phoenix of the protection of children for the touchdown and the touchstone of our lives.

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

Contact:KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308

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November 7, 2011

Editorial

Tin Ear and Perfect Pitch

Cardinal Bernard Law, who escaped prosecution in the clergy and religious sisters sexual abuse scandal but was rewarded with palatial digs at a basilica that is Vatican ground in Rome celebrated his 80th birthday on Friday at a party with 80 to 100 invited guests at a ritzy Roman hotel.

To say this is yet more evidence of a tin ear by the hierarchy of this Church is to insult tin.

What it is evidence of is the real attitude of the hierarchy of this Church no matter how many pro forma apologies get said.

We all have birthdays and most of us and our friends know how to appropriately celebrate them.

Law should get down on his knees in gratitude that he wasn’t spending his 80th birthday in prison instead of hosting a bash laden with the finest meats and choicest wines.

Law still sits on the Curia Congregation for Bishops and continues to make bishops in his own image. He will continue to hold this post. No pontiff’s hand has been raised again honoring him or allowing him to continue in prestigious and powerful posts. Turning 80 only bars from having a vote in the next conclave.

While this Irishman was again insulting victims with a public, lavish thumb your nose at them while you eat cake spread, theRepublicofIrelandstruck perfect pitch in closing its Embassy to the Holy See.

The Irish governmental diplomatically said that it took the step because of finances but all the world knows why it closed its doors to diplomatic relations with theVatican: hundreds upon hundreds of its children were raped, sodomized and physically and spiritually abused by those in positions of authority in the church.

In a most dramatic way on the world stageIrelandhas proclaimed again as its Prime Minister did in July: Children First.

The Cardinal Primate of Ireland Sean Brady expressed his great “disappointment” at the Irish government’s action. He said, “This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries.”

Let us begin and end with the “little regard” that cardinals and bishops inIrelandshowed for those molested and remember that it was theVatican’s ambassador who refused to testify before the Irish government’s panels when it investigated the abuse.

It is high time that the Church was clearly, plainly and forthrightly instructed – as it has now been by the Irish government – that its ethical voice no longer has gravity.

We noted as well that Cardinal Brady did not even raise so much as a “disappointment” comment on the news that his brother bishops inGermanyare up to their miters in the business of publishing erotica and pornography. Fraternal correction, will you please stand up.

Only the withdrawal of money will change these actions and responses. We suggest Catholics begin by re-routing their Christmas collections to coffers that do not throw birthday bashes for those lucky enough to escape prison, those who cannot see or accept that they are being chastised for concealment of crimes, and those who are actively involved in the exploitation of adults and children through pornography.

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

Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308

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November 2, 2011

EDITORIAL

What Kind of Church Traffics and Profits in Pornography?

Readers of NSAC News were among the first in the English speaking world to learn yesterday that the Catholic Church inGermanyis a:

  • 100% owner of a publishing house, Weltbild, which does a $1.7 billion business and has an online presence second only to Amazon, and has 2,500 erotica novels in its online catalog
  • 50% owner in the publisher Dromer Knaur which publishes pornographic books

From many a German Bishop’s lips, we are sure, has tripped the Scripture phrase, “when your treasure is, there your heart will be.”

Catholics inGermanyincluding the German author Gabriele Kuby and Bernard Mueller, editor in chief of the Catholic magazine PUR have been complaining about this hip boot deep involvement of the Church inGermanyin pornography and erotica for a decade.

So much so that their raising of the alarm reached a 70 page report stage in 2008 which was sent to every Bishop inGermany.

Nothing happened.

In fact, half of the Bishops didn’t even respond to receiving the report.

Now the German Bishops have been outed in the mainstream media.

The German Bishops have already begun to tell us through their spokespeople that this ownership of pornography and erotic publishing was an “oversight.”

No one comes to hold financial property through an oversight.

The German Bishops have been caught and they are backpedaling and covering up.

Their disinterest and desensitizing in regard to pornography is akin to the tactic taken by Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City/St. Joseph Diocese in theUnited States. Bishop Finn exhibited no responsible executive inclination to see for himself the images that were on the computer of a priest in his diocese who is being prosecuted for child pornography. For this non-reporting, Bishop Finn now finds himself indicted by the civil authorities.

Neither the German Bishops nor Bishop Finn have thrown their proverbial arms or voices up in horror in the face of child or adult pornography,

We’ve become used to the lameness of the Church’s spokesperson’s comments in the clergy (and religious sisters) sexual abuse scandal, but this one reaches a new level of arrogance. Said theGermanChurch’s spokesperson: immediate corrective action would be taken.

The only immediate corrective action that is equal to this situation is the immediate removal of all sitting German Bishops by the German Bishop sitting on the Throne of St. Peter.

No moral statement from any of the German Bishops can have any standing and will indeed be laughable until these Bishops are removed from their office.

We have said repeatedly that in the course of the post-Boston era of the crisis in the Church that the Church has laryngitis in her moral voice. The outing of the German Bishops in their pushing of pornography for its profit places a pillow over the Church’s mouth. How long do Catholics think this suffocation will take?

The publishing house in which the Church is the sole owner must be purged of its erotica titles forthwith. No matter the financial losses.

The Church must divest itself of its 50% share of the house publishing pornography, No matter the financial losses.

Whatever money is made should be used for the benefit of the victims of pornography.

These German Bishops do not operate in a vacuum. Make no mistake about it: all of the Church is tied to this situation. All of the Church bears the responsibility if the corrective steps are not taken.

Here is contact information our readers may wish to use for expressing their opinions.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
His Eminence William Joseph Levada, Cardinal, Prefect
His Excellency Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
Telephone: 06.69.88.33.57; 06.69.88.34.13
Fax: 06.69.88.34.09
E-mail: cdf@cfaith.va

Congregation for Bishops
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect
Palazzo della Congregazioni,
Piazza Pio XII, 10
Roma, Italia
00193
Phone: 06.69.88.42.17
Fax: 06.69.88.53.03

If you do make contact with these Church authorities, please let know about your correspondence.

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

Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308

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Commentary

October 28, 2011

To See or Not to See in Assisi

It’s incredible how many ways the Vatican can find to insult survivors.

First, we apologize to them for yet another hurt inflicted on them yesterday. We know they know it’s nothing new but they should not have to deal with the deluge of what’s supposed to roll off their backs. And it shouldn’t go without comment.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict went to St. Francis the Reformer’s Assisi to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s initiation of a gathering of religious leaders from across the religious spectrum for the purpose of praying together for justice and peace.

Pope Benedict set up the day so that he would not actually be praying with the other leaders nor would any of them pray with each other. After the speeches when it came time for prayer, — the billed purpose of the event — all the attendees went to separate rooms.

That’s because Pope Benedict boycotted the John Paul II inaugural event in 1986 on the grounds that praying together with leaders of the world’s religions would send a message that all religions were equal.

But a 12th century dead Francis, not a live reformer, presents a nice patina to the world and Assisi is a photographic location and the combination provides for good press. Pope Benedict knows this so he found a way to bend his quarter century objections and take advantage of the anniversary.

What we think was the most striking about this gathering and its odd ways was that in addition to the usual subjects that would be on the invitation list for this type of gathering — the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, a representative of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Secretary of the International Conference of Islamic Scholars, and representatives of Buddhism and Hinduism — Pope Benedict invited “four or five” as the media stories note, “unbelievers.”

Where does the Vatican find the world representatives of “unbelievers”? By tweeting? Facebook page? You Tube? Running a contest for an all Vatican expense paid visit to Assisi?

Find them the Vatican did. Found and labeled them as leaders of the world’s unbelievers. Not just any old garden variety unbelievers. Unbelievers that were agnostics and thus a better grade of unbelievers for the papal presence than atheists.

And speak to them and of them, Pope Benedict did.

These are the words of Pope Benedict:

“In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: …people who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: ‘There is no God’. They suffer from His absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards Him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. ….

“These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, Whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible.

Therefore I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in Assisi, which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions. Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be ‘pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace'”.

Unbelievable!

The Pope decides to step a toe into the waters of why people don’t believe and he intentionally does not invite or address the thousands of Catholics driven from their faith home and blocked in their avenues to God as a result of the crippling, scarring, horrific, soul murdering effects of sexual abuse by priest and nuns — plus the legion of folks in their families, and the families of those who committed suicide or who were murdered.

These are not those without the gift of faith.

These are those from whom the gift was violently ripped away.

These are those who are called money grubbing, angry, and unforgiving.

These are those who are in their very acts of caring for each other Christ for each other.

A journey toward truth?

A decisive stand for human dignity?

Common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force?

Pilgrims of truth?

We say it again: unbelievable!

— and with the incredulity we offer Barbara Brown Taylor’s wisdom:

” No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are. ” — (from An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith)

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308

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Editorial

October 18, 2011

EVEN AS INDICTING

The inability of Catholic priests to know what to say to Sunday churchgoers (Kansas City Church Tiptoeing Around the Latest Scandal, New York Times, link to full story below) is, it seems to us, as indicting as the Jackson County (Missouri) Grand Jury’s indictment on the charge of failure to report child pornographic images on a priest’s computer to which Bishop Finn has already admitted.

When priests of the Roman Catholic Church become mute in the face of a bishop choosing cleric over child, indeed their spines have fossilized and the work of a once proud immigrant Church so strong in education, health care, and the lifting up the oppressed is dishonored and nearly buried alive.

The priests of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph who were given, by regular Scripture rotation no less, the amazingly fitting passage of “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto to God the things that God’s,” it appears were unable – or unwilling — to link the criminal indictment charge and forthcoming trial of their bishop and diocesan personnel on failure to report child pornography on a priest’s computer to this Scripture text in their homilies.

This is politeness – and obedience – run amuck.

These priests chose to sidestep, ignore, or at best allude to but not clearly speak to the elephant in every parish in this diocese this weekend. In doing so, they have allowed their bishop to become Caesar and they render unto him the fear of the loss of salary and pension. They become cowards in the preaching of the Gospel. Priests in this diocese, it seems, acted as though the bishop was the recipient of a letter with a parking fine enclosed and it was nothing about which to bother the locals and spoil the morning.

They are building houses upon sand and selling short the response of the Catholic community to a priest willing to call a spade a spade, an elephant an elephant.

“Tiptoeing” the New York Times called it. The Lord had a visual image for it, too. “If you are lukewarm I will vomit you out.”

Before the forgiveness chorus comes on stage as a vigorous defense as the phrase goes in Kansas City, we’d like to say that the Church does teach forgiveness but not forgiveness without responsibility. Forgiveness is not withheld from women who have abortions – nor the men who co-produce babies who are aborted – Project Rachel is strong evidence of that in the Church. And the good thief still died. Forgiveness is not diminished if it is part of the package not the package itself. Priests could have said if the bishop is convicted they would walk with him to prison and beyond had they been willing to address the issue in its total reality which means facing that cleric over child is the chosen policy and it is wrong. And it needs to be rooted out.

Does anybody think that if the bishop were held captive and sexually abused with pornographic images of him turning up on a computer technician’s regular rounds and the chancery staff and any other people who knew about it didn’t report it to authorities for five months — or even worse, mildly described the images to police in a bid designed to deflect their true nature – priests would have been silent Cals in their after discovery homilies?

Before the “what about all the good priests” argument turns up, we’d like to say that all good priests know why these things have to be said. Because good priests don’t tolerate deception, duplicity and the putting and keeping of children in harm’s way — even from their bishops. Because their bishops, despite the lavish ceremonies of praise that install them, are not the Crucified and Resurrected One.

Maybe if the Scripture is too high a bar, a bit of Tennyson might be a stepping stone for the priests of Kansas City-St. Joseph to begin to correct the curvature and weakness of their spines:

“Tho much is taken, much abides, and tho we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven” that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts made weak by time and fate but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308

U.S. | October 17, 2011
In Kansas City Churches, Tiptoeing Around the Latest Scandal
By A. G. SULZBERGER
With news of charges against Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese still fresh, priests struggled on whether to broach the subject, and how, in their sermons. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/us/in-kansas-city-sermons-avoid-mention-of-abuse-scandal.html?scp=1&sq=Bishop%20finn&st=cse

Editorial

September 22, 2011

Boycotting Bundestagers

Pope Benedict begins his third trip to his native country, Germany, today with an opening day speech before the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany’s federal legislature.

Nearly 100 members of the 598 member Bundestag plan to boycott. To relieve any discomfort the pontiff may experience from looking at a chamber shy a 100 members, the Germans are filling in the seats with staff and other invited persons.

They boycott this pontiff in a country where an unprecedented 181,000 Catholics Germans just in the past year have officially declared they are no longer Catholics in order not to be counted for tax distribution for the support of the Catholic Church in Germany. The tax distribution is the German Church’s major means of financial support. No dependence on the voluntary drop in the basket method in the Pope’s home country.

The boycotting Bundestagers have come under some fire for announcing they won’t be in the Chamber when the Bavarian born pontiff speaks.

We think they should be saluted.

These 100 are not all boycotting because of the issue of sexual abuse of children and minors by priests and nuns. They hold a variety of political beliefs that differ from the Pope’s. Still, we believe they should be saluted.

We are not advocating rude behavior, the only lens through which some will see their absence from the chamber when the Pope is there.

We are not advocating anti-Catholicism another shibboleth that gets trotted out and paraded about in the hope it will be a smokescreen blocking hard and real realities.

We salute them for their spines.

Sitting can give consent and consent can become complicity.

If our readers enter into conversations with friends, family, colleagues, pew mates, blog mates, email mates on this topic – and we encourage you to do so – we call to your attention, in contrast, a court case scheduled today in Australia.

Emma Furness of Sydney, Australia, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, will appear in court charged with criminal, no less, trespass because of her attempts to speak with Cardinal George Pell about survivors.

Pell did meet with her once and made promises about support for survivors. Ms. Furness has tried to hold him to it.

Once while she trying to do it, the diocesan office staff put her in a waiting taxi, gave her $20 and the taxi took to the place where the staff told her Pell would meet with her. He wasn’t there. She returned to his diocesan office looking for both answers and Pell. She was arrested on the trespass charge.

As victims of clergy sexual abuse come forward by the hundreds in Europe and Australia to stand side by side with those in the United States, these are not the days for Catholics to look away when those who seek justice “trespass.”

What a day this could be if “trespass” was forgiven and conscience was exalted.

Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair, KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308/

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EDITORIAL

September 17, 2011

Children of the Heartland

Our readers know that bishops work hard to give the impression that the scandal of rape and sodomy and child pornography by religious authority figures in the Church is a long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away event.

Their past tense language when speaking of the scandal is one of the largest planks in this doggedly worked at platform.

We call our readers attention to the children of the heartland where the scandal has reached near white heat proportions.

The Diocese is Kansas City – St. Joseph, Missouri and the bishop is Robert Finn.

Bishop Finn took over the reins of this diocese in 2005. That’s five year post-Boston and mid-decade from the addition of: zero tolerance” to hierarchical parlance.

Five years into his stewardship– and we use the term advisedly – in December 2010 a computer technician on a repair call found child pornography on Father Shawn Ratigan’s computer.

This bishop did not inform police until six month later. He didn’t tell the faithful who are the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, day care staff, teachers, physicians, librarians, or anyone else who comes into regular contact with children in his diocese and he didn’t tell his own review board.

Shawn Ratigan was arrested in May 2011. In August he was indicated by a federal grand jury on production, attempted production and possession of child pornography.

A school principal delivered a letter to the diocese about Ratigan’s pornography a year before Ratigan was arrested. Finn acknowledges he was given a “summary” of the letter a year before Ratigan was arrested but he didn’t read it until May 2011.

The priest attempted suicide in mid-December 2010, was sent to live at a convent and he continued to attend event with children.

In addition, Bishop Finn has acknowledged that after he becomes aware of the computer technician’s report in December 2010 he had not “determined a breaking point” at which he would remove Father Ratigan.

A civil suit was filed in early August 2011 alleging that Ratigan had ready access to children at birthday parties, weekends spent in private homes of parish families, being the presider with the bishop’s permission at a girl’s First Communion.

What followed the May 2011 Ratigan arrest was a “five point plan”, the hiring of an ombudsman for an independent review of the dioceses policies.

The investigator, the law firm of Graves Bartle Marcus and Garret recently filed its report saying the diocese failed to follow its own policies in both the case of Shawn Ratigan and another priest Michael Tierney who is accused of sexual abuse of minors in the 1970s.

The Graves report, as it has been dubbed, calls for immediately reporting of abuse to law enforcement.

We remind our readers again. The principal’s letter was written in May 2010 and the computer technician’s report was in December 2010. Not long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Todd Graves, who led the investigation, has been quoted as saying, “Our investigation identified shortcomings, inaction and confusing procedures, but we believe Bishop Finn and the leadership of the diocese understand the gravity of the issues and take these recommendations seriously.”

We believe Mr. Graves is wrong in wishing to give the diocese a new beginning with the same bishop.

The Catholics of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph deserve better – and the children deserve a bishop who does know when a priest endangers children and acts to protect children.

We believe Bishop Finn should resign.

We believe the time is long overdue that Pope Benedict should have demanded his resignation. Sadly in this culture in the Church that is not the Church’s response.

We ask the Catholics in the pews in the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph to consider their own complicity in this tragedy in the heartland if they remain silent and allow business to continue as usual in this diocese. A new report, some staff juggling and new titles and in-house investigations do not solve this problem.

Now Catholics in this diocese have knowledge – sad and disappointing knowledge, yes, but knowledge of how their leader acted and thought, nonetheless. With this knowledge, the longer Catholics remain silent and continue to accept Bishop Finn as their leader, the more they become complicit in and with the evil of perpetrating child pornography and child sexual abuse.

Catholics can no longer be afforded the luxury of saying they didn’t know, the facts aren’t clear, the bishop who made the mess should be the bishop who cleans it up.

But what can Catholics do? Plenty. Here’s some starting places.

Encourage anyone who knows of or suspects child abuse to report it to the police.

Withhold money from collection baskets. Write on your envelope why you’re withholding the money. Let your pastor know when you’ll begin giving again. Afraid your parish will close without your money and if you continue giving it’s guaranteed it will remain open, read Jason Berry’s latest book, Render Unto Rome, the Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church. Better yet, bring Mr. Berry to your diocese for an open forum.

Afraid the lights will go off in your parish if you don’t give. Call your utility company and tell them you want to send money to pay your parish’s electric bill, get the account number, and send your parish donation direct to the utility company.

Refuse to do all the regular week in and week out keeping the parish going activities that Catholics do until the bishop resigns.

Work with law enforcement to educate parishioners on how to protect children. Use parish facilities to hold these programs.

Invite survivors to your parishes and listen to them.

Insist a new bishop go to every parish in the diocese where children have been abused and every parish where a priest has been removed and actively and with heart and compassion seek out all survivors. Get started by insisting the current bishop do this.

The children of the heartland deserve protection.

All of us need to remember that the great mobility of our country means today your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, stepchildren, the neighbors’ kids are living in one place in the country and tomorrow they can be living in another part of the country.

Do you want them to live in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph where a principal’s concerns are ignored and a computer technician knows immediately the right thing to do – but the bishop doesn’t?

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308

EDITORIAL

September 15, 2011

A FAIR FIGHT

by Carmen Durso

Chair of the Committee to Reform the Sexual Abuse Laws of Massachusetts

When we were kids, the playground had rules. One of the most important ones was that every fight had to be fair: no biting, gouging, ganging up, or picking on someone smaller than you. Once in a while, there might be a bully who violated the rules. We would carefully explain the rules to him, and he usually didn’t make the same mistake again. Simple rules. Simple justice.

When an adult sexually abuses a child, he is the ultimate bully, and it is the most basic violation of those rules. The child is defenseless, and often there is no one who will stand up for him, or make things right. For that child there is no justice.

For adult sexual abuse survivors, who reach a point in their lives when they are ready and able to fight back, things only get worse. The rules for such fights are neither fair nor simple. Prosecutions are impossible because of limited criminal statutes of limitation. Civil suits are often blocked for the same reason. And charitable immunity laws assure that any blow successfully landed by the accuser will be just a light tap, instead of a knockout.

On September 27 , we can end this injustice. On that day there will be an 11:00 a.m. Rally, and a 1:00 p.m. Committee Hearing at the Massachusetts State House on House No. 469, a bill which would eliminate civil and criminal statutes of limitations in child sex abuse case, as well as charitable immunity.

Why do we need to do this? For the victims we know about: 552 Boston clergy abuse victims in 2003; 100’s more since then; nearly 100 victims of Dr. Melvin Levine; victims of a international tennis pro; thousands more in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Africa & Australia, that we read about daily. For the victims we don’t now about yet: the uncounted victims of incest; the Center for Disease Control’s estimate of the frequency of sexual abuse: 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys -bout 1.3 million in Massachusetts.

They all deserve simple justice. Please come on September 27th. Stop the bullies. Help child sex abuse victims to get a Fair Fight.

Thank you.

CARMEN L. DURSO, ESQUIRE
175 Federal Street, Suite 1425
Boston, MA 02110-2287

617-728-9123 / 800-287-9123
dursolaw@tiac.net

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EDITORIAL

September 14, 2011

SNAP Ups the Ante

In movements, there are milestone days.

September 13, 2011 is one indeed in the clergy (and nuns) sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church.

In a bold move, the Survivor Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), took the case of its 9,000 members and that of a growing number of survivors rising up around the globe to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

SNAP, represented by the New York based Center for Constitutional Rights is seeking an investigation of Pope Benedict XVI, the current and former Vatican Secretaries of State, Cardinals Tarcisco Bertone and Angelo Sodano and the current head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, (previously of California) who succeeded Pope Benedict as the chief at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office where sexual abuse cases are handled, for possible crimes against humanity.

Crimes against humanity – the phrase is stunning, jaw dropping, breath drawing, –and now said aloud in the same sentence as the Vatican.

We know the sheer startling aspect of the phrase will bring some Catholics to frozen positions of defense of the Pope Benedict and Vatican officials. We call upon them to resist this reflexive action and honestly and sincerely pursue the facts and educate themselves. The knowledge is as close as survivors and they are legion.

Before yesterday the phrase “crimes against humanity — was a phrase that brought Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur and the defendants of the Nuremberg Trials to mind.

Yet it is the reaction of the Vatican that is most telling.

Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s US lawyer labeled the action “a ludicrous publicity stunt.”

Whether Mr. Lena ran this comment up the Vatican flagpole to get the nod from the man who sits on St. Peter’s Throne we cannot say but we can say neither Pope Benedict nor anyone else at the Vatican has disavowed this comment.

And therein lies the rub.

Mr. Lena’s client, the Church, continuously argues that clergy sexual abuse is a relic of the past. That plank in the Church’s argument alone should have worked like duct tape for Mr. Lena: the International Criminal Court works on cases with victims parallel with and moving forward from its inception date, 2002.

One needs to look no further than the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri for a pushback on the “sins of the past” argument.

If love in its highest form seeking the good of the beloved without thought to the cost of the lover was not to be the response then surely the Vatican could have reached for mediocre middle ground of silence, review of the documents, etc.

But instead came the undignified hurling of an insult seeking to belittle: a verbal javelin cast from underlying fear.

For it is Mr. Lena who is most familiar with the oft put down case in the US District Court that was also viewed a losing proposition but which unlocked Fortress Vatican in an historic court ordered release of documents for the discovery phase of trial.

A milestone day indeed.

— Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair, KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308

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EDITORIAL

September 9, 2011

LOVE by ARRANGEMENT PHILADELPHIA STYLE

Pope Benedict has been called many things in his six year tenure as the Supreme Pontiff but not until yesterday had he been called a Yenta.

Archbishop Charles Chaput chose the imagery of an arranged marriage with Pope Benedict as the matchmaker to describe his view of his new position. (link to the complete text of the homily http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/)

There was laughter in the cathedral when the Archbishop made this reference. Maybe it played better in the cathedral but we find the choice of words poor if not disturbing.

It seemed insensitive at the very least to use a marriage metaphor as a homily context at this installation when the overriding issue in Philadelphia is the latest Grand Jury report, the pending court cases, the “if” of the testimony of Cardinal Bevilacqua, the wonder about reinstatement of priests that were removed by Cardinal Rigali after the Grand Jury report revealed 31 remained in ministry in violation of the Dallas Charter principle of zero tolerance.

Insensitive because of the mounds of heartache, pain and sorrow that has lived in and ruined marriages of sexual abuse victims raped and sodomized by priests and nuns. Spouses, children, in-laws and any manner of extended families suffered and continue to suffer in tandem with the pain of the survivors. Marriages entered into in love were and are twisted and strangled by the tentacles of molestation.

So rarely is marriage spoken of in a homily context it adds to the oddity of the choice of this imagery in the installation ceremony of a scarred and hurting diocese.

We call our readers attention to the tight tie of bishop to pope that Archbishop Chaput drew in using this imagery. Without the action of Pope Benedict Archbishop Chaput would still be in Denver. He’ll give a required report of his “arranged marriage” to the matchmaker (or his successor) on regularly scheduled ad limia visits to Rome. The other partner in the “marriage” will not be invited. Bishops are hardly autonomous or independent from Rome. We ask our readers to keep that image in mind when the dissembling begins in legal action and Rome knows the “locals” not.

Archbishop Chaput did not speak directly of the sexual abuse crisis in his homily but he did say” This Church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days. There’s no quick fix to problems that are so difficult, and none of us here today, except the Lord Himself, is a miracle worker. But it’s important to remember and to believe the Church is not defined by her failures. And you and I are not defined by our critics or by those who dislike us.”

We hope Archbishop Chaput knows the same holds true for victims of sexual abuse: they are not defined by their critics nor those who dislike them.

As forced love is an oxymoron, love by arrangement seems a cold beginning indeed.

— Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair

Contact; Kristine Ward, 9347-272-0308, KristineWard@hotmail.com

Editorial

September 1, 2011

Philadelphia Cardinal Seeks Special Arrangements for Testifying

NSAC: Here we go again with the special privileges

Here we go again with special privileges and tactics of avoidance.

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua’s insistence on a private hearing in his private mansion before he’ll answer questions about clergy sexual abuse in the diocese where he was the boss is hardly a sincere and appropriate response to Pope Benedict’s call to “do everything possible” to resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Cardinal Bevilacqua was scheduled to appear for a hearing on September 12. Now his attorneys are fighting that public appearance.

We ask Philadelphia Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to compare this fight for privacy with the lavish, public ceremony that will take place on September 8 when Archbishop Charles Chaput takes over as the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

When the archbishops of Philadelphia want to be public and command attention indeed they do.

We find it striking that when Catholic hierarchs see themselves as vulnerable they work at finding any number of ways to protect themselves but “doing everything possible” for the protection of children, truly innocent and vulnerable, continues to evade them. Re: Philly.com Bevilacqua’s lawyer seeks to close competency hearing

Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308

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August 18, 2011

The Release of Documents by the Vatican

We note with a sure, steady and strong salute of honor to the courage of a survivor, the announcement on the Vatican Radio website that the Vatican has released documents ordered by a United States court.

The Vatican’s attorney, Jeffrey Lena, speaking in a statement on behalf of his client, the Holy See, believes that the release of the documents will exonerate his client of knowledge of and responsibility for the abuse of survivor, John Doe, by Servite priest Andrew Ronan. This phrase is not to be missed in the Lena statement, “The Holy See is releasing all known documents relating to Ronan held by the Roman Curia.”

The survivor’s attorney, Jeff Anderson, says in a statement that he has yet to receive the documents and notes that the documents made public on Vatican Radio’s website are a partial release of the court ordered discovery documents. Anderson is expected to comment on the document release at a press conference on Monday.

In the coming days there will be a pell mell tumbling out of news outlets, Internet blogs and serious legal journals both profound and profane reporting, analysis and commentary on this historic US court ordered release of documents and the Holy See’s response.

What the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) believes should not be lost, minimized or in any way or manner put asunder is the indisputable nobility of the courage of the survivor, John Doe, in this purposeful pursuit of truth.

It is, quite simply, what indeed will set us free.

In this moment, it is important to mark this milestone knowing that the Holy See had until yesterday clamped and secured its documents firmly in its claim to sovereignty of state.

Now, because of a survivor, Fortress Vatican has been cleaved.

Where could it lead?

Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308/

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July 15, 2011

Distress Vatican Style

The headline in the Irish Times read “Papal Nuncio ‘distressed’ by Report.

That would be the Cloyne Report which revealed the Vatican’s subterfuge of the publicly proclaimed Irish Bishops’ 1996 procedures mandating the reporting of all allegations of clerical sexual abuse to the police.

The nuncio, the Pope’s direct delegate on the ground in Ireland, made his “distressed” comment after a woodshed meeting to which he had been summoned by the Republic of Ireland’s Foreign Minister.

These are Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza’s words: “I am very distressed myself again by the failures in assuring the protection of children within the church despite all the good work that has been done.“

For the people of James Joyce, Frank O’Connor, George Bernard Shaw, and William Butler Yeats, words matter.

“Distressed” indeed.

It is Leanza who time and time again dismissed requests from state investigators and refused to testify before a Parliament committee.

The nuncio said he wanted to stress “the total commitment of the Holy See for its part to taking all the necessary measures to assure protection.” The hollow echo you hear is from the papal phrase “do everything possible” for victims of sexual abuse.

The Vatican in a secret letter to Irish bishops shrunk the force of the Framework Document’s rules to a “study document” sending a clear signal to the Irish bishops to continue business as usual. The Cloyne Report exposes the Vatican’s public lip service, private and steel fisted opposition to mandatory reporting.

Leanza said after the meeting he had just received a copy of the report and would “bring a copy of the report to the attention of the Holy See immediately.”

We could say this is laughable but we will say that it stretches the credulity index of any reasonable person to believe that there were not enough copies of the Cloyne Report, at the moment Leanza spoke, being read by the Pope and Vatican officials that the Borgia Apartments could not have been redecorated with them.

Irish political leaders are so fired up and angry at the Cloyne Report on top of the Ferns, Murphy and Ryan reports that they are proposing legislation for mandatory reporting that would include breaking the seal of confession. There will be those who use the seal as a red herring to avoid the real problem – the dug in resistance to reporting, the preference of cleric over child, the absolute refusal to come clean and address the problem, the above the law snobbery. And how long is the list of abusers who have gone to confession with announcements of their rape and sodomy of children?

Catholics who will occupy pew space this weekend need to hear Leanza’s words in their heads as they say the Creed.

Is this “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” looks like, sounds like and acts like?

The real, supreme and ultimate pastor, the Good Shepherd, not the shepherd who uses Roman numerals as a last name, showed us how to act in distress.

If a blueprint is needed that would be by over turning tables, taking up a whip and driving out evil.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308

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Editorial

July 14, 2011

Cloyne’s “Country” Bishop

by Kristine Ward

The Cloyne Report, formally known as the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Justice and Equality’s Report by Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, was released yesterday.

It follows the Ferns, Murphy (Dublin diocese) and Ryan reports. All of the reports are horrendous in their revelations of abuse and cover-up and Cloyne is indeed damning but Cloyne’s not to be missed special ingredient is a bishop who lived and worked at the highest circle of the Vatican for 12 years.

Cloyne’s Bishop John Magee was the private secretary to Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, and Pope John Paul II from 1975-1982. From 1982 to 1987 he served as the papal Master of Ceremonies.

He begins his tenure in Cloyne in 1987 and resigned as Bishop of Cloyne on March 25, 2010 following the Murphy report.

The position of private secretary to a pope isn’t filled by a volunteer walking up to St. Ann’s Gate at the edge of the Vatican whispering to a Swiss Guard that he’s available for work And nobody stays a private secretary or a Master of Ceremonies for a pope without the boss’ backing.

A dozen years, the time stretch from first grade to becoming a high school graduate, makes for a long spell of education in Vatican ways particularly with the seminars led by the head honchos. In addition to these graduate level training years, Bishop Magee informed the Commission all told he spent 24 years in Rome.

The man who was responsible for the Cloyne Diocese is indeed an inside player. Make no mistake about it.

Here are two clips from the Cloyne Report to give our readers a picture of Bishop Magee:

The report says, “It is a remarkable fact that Bishop Magee took little or no active interest in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the Framework Document was adopted. As a result of this vacuum, the diocese’s functions in the matter of clerical child sexual abuse were, by default, exercised by others. The principal person involved was Monsignor O’Callaghan. He did not approve of the procedures set out in the Framework Document. In particular, he did not approve of the requirement to report to the civil authorities.”

And the report says, “In evidence to the Commission, Bishop Magee said that he was fully committed to the implementation of the Framework Document and was shocked to discover in 2008 that it was not being implemented. The Commission considers that this response is totally inadequate. It became clear during the course of this investigation that Bishop Magee had, to a certain extent, detached himself from the day to day management of child sexual abuse cases. Bishop Magee was the head of the diocese and cannot avoid his responsibility by blaming subordinates whom he wholly failed to supervise.”

These two sections of the 400 page report lift the curtain on how this inside player designed plausible denial for himself: installing Monsignor O’Callaghan, (a person whom the report says kept the files on abusive priests in his home), as the gatekeeper for the handling of abuse reports and the decider of action and inaction.

This plausible denial platform sets the stage for Bishop Magee’s “shock” that the Irish bishops’ own answer to dealing with the abuse crisis was not implemented in the Diocese of Cloyne.

The Cloyne Report tells us that Bishop Magee lied to the Health Service Executive (HSE) that allegations of abuse were being reported to the police.

In the United States, Catholics are used to hearing the bishops and their agents frame the abuse crisis as something that happened long ago in a galaxy far, far away when a few bad apples got caught up in the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

The Cloyne Report says the Commission “examined complaints, allegations, concerns and suspicions of child sexual abuse made to the diocese, other Catholic Church authorities and public and State authorities from January 1, 1996 through February 1, 2009.” No need to re-read the last sentence, you have read correctly 1996 – 2009. This is not a report about yesteryear. This is a report about today.

The Diocese of Cloyne is in north and east County Cork. It has 46 parishes and the report says that of the 163 clerics listed in the diocese’s directory for 1996, there have been “allegations made or concerns expressed” about 7.6 % of its priests.

Register that number against the 1% that the United States Bishops insisted was the correct percentage for abusive priests until it wasn’t. With the John Jay studies, the admitted to figure by the US bishops climbed to 4%. Other studies put it closer to 10%.

As was true with the Archdiocese of Boston that there was nothing in the baked beans or the Charles River that caused the eruption of sexual abuse by priests and segregated the scandal to the confines of the archdiocese’s borders, neither is there anything in the geography or the Guinness in north and east County Cork that would put a label of aberration on what the Irish Commission found.

The Cloyne Report tells us that the actors in this cover-up, this favoritism of cleric over child, this lying to police did so against the backdrop of following what was happening in North America vis a vis clerical child sexual abuse.

Says Monsignor O’Callaghan, (the same Monsignor O’Callaghan who doesn’t inform the police of allegations in Cloyne), “I’d say in the 1990s it dawned on us we better get us to speed on this because also another factor, a lot of the priests who were being accused of sex abuse were Irish. A lot of them had been ordained in Ireland and therefore all you had to do was look over the names on the list anywhere and you got that picture, so I suppose that certainly struck us at that stage, it did.”

In the report, Monsignor O’Callaghan describes Cloyne in a self deprecating fashion as a “country” diocese.

It is duplicitous. No country bumpkins are these two: bishop and aide. They knew exactly what they were doing.

The Cloyne Report is another piece in the growing global evidence of the depth and breadth of the sexual abuse scandal in the Church. It is not knowledge that was freely given to the faithful by those who claim to lead in the Church. It is knowledge dragged from the Church through the force of a civil government investigation.

The only way we have found out what they were doing is through the courage, persistence, pain, sorrow, and scars of the survivors and their families. Let us not forget that it was a 15 year campaign waged by the survivors that persuaded the government of the Republic of Ireland to investigate sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

They are owed respect and deliberate action not another insulting round of insipid apologies from the Church.

And certainly the first who should lay down the yawn inducing, meaningless apologies are those who claim apostolic succession. As the truth continues to be revealed through truly independent investigations, we continue to see succession, yes, but apostolic? Not so much.

Link to the full Cloyne Report: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Cloyne_Rpt

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

Contact: KristineWard@hotmail.com, 937-272-0308

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Editorial

July 6, 2011

Support Survivors?

Show Them

If you are a survivor supporter the 2011 SNAP Conference this weekend is a perfect place for you. It’s a prime opportunity to put what you believe into action.

The SNAP conference opens Friday evening, July 8 and continues through Sunday at noon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, (Crystal City) Washington, DC – and there is still time to make plans to be there.

Wednesday is a great day for getting airline specials if you will be coming in from further than a day’s drive from Washington.

If you are within driving distance, now’s the time to catch the best gas special and fill ‘er up. Don’t make the trip alone, invite as many folks as your car will hold.

The SNAP conference will recharge your engine, introduce you to amazing people, and broaden your vista. We guarantee it.

If you are a regular reader of NSAC News the names Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy, Barbara Dorris, Peter Isely, Tom Doyle, Richard Sipe, Jason Berry, Terry McKiernan, Anne Barrett Doyle, and Carolyn Disco are very familiar to you.

Here’s your chance to meet them in person and if you’ve already met them to reconnect with them. Email is great, so is the phone, but you can’t beat face to face. Don’t let this opportunity pass.

On this year’s agenda are reports from the European front, the Philadelphia trenches, new avenues of treatment approaches for healing, outreach for vulnerable adults, ways to find new resources.

And that’s just part of the official schedule. In the hallways, at breakout sessions, in the restaurants, in the lobby, on the morning walks there are countless, priceless opportunities that will be unique and life giving.

You’ll find all the information on the conference schedule, registration and hotel by going to: www.snapnetwork.org

The presentations at the SNAP conference are ahead of the headlines. If you are in this movement, this is a must weekend. If you are on the edges of this movement, it’s time for you to dive in. Ask yourself: how long will I be lukewarm?

Worried about coming alone? Don’t be. NSAC knows that’s easier said than done. That’s why we’re hosting an Ice Cream Social reception at the end of the opening session Friday evening. It’s designed to be a great meet and greet session and no one will be a stranger. Consider this your official invitation to be our guest of honor. (Don’t worry, for those with medical needs, we’ve arranged for fruit plates.)

Wallet a bit thin? When there’s a will, there can be ways. Scholarship assistance is available to meet registration fees. Roommates can be found to keep the hotel cost down. Car pooling helps with the expenses. On the East coast there is good train transportation in the District of Columbia. And, did we mention that Wednesday is a wonderful day to find airlines specials?

NSAC salutes the hard and dedicated work that survivors have done with scant support from most Catholics in the pews. Many survivors face each day without the support of their own families.

This year you can change that. It’s way past time the survivors looked out in the audience at the SNAP conference and saw tons of supporters.

Without the survivors and their enduing work to seek justice and protect children the darkness would never have been broken about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. Our debt of gratitude to them can never be repaid.

Our solidarity with them is the baseline minimum we can do.

That’s why NSAC will be at SNAP this weekend.

We’ll see you there!

—- Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair

Editorial

June 24, 2011

Peter and His Pence

This weekend, because it is the closest weekend to the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29) baskets will pass before the US Catholic population shilling for money that will go directly to Pope Benedict.

Unlike other collections, local, national and missionary, there is no stopping at the diocesan level dropping off a percentage of the take.

The whole caboodle in 2009 (the latest year for which there are figures) amounted to $82.5 million worldwide, with American Catholics anteing up nearly one third of the total pot.

This collection is billed as a way to support the Pope’s philanthropy for emergency assistance in times of natural disaster, war, oppression and disease.

It’s a thousand year old collection and its Middle Ages media slogan was a “penny from every hearth.”

From Jason Berry’s new book, Render Unto Rome, The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, we now know that only 11 per cent of this money is accounted for by the Vatican.

In round numbers, for a $50 gift to this collection, only $5 of it shows up as being spent to relieve suffering and $45 goes into Fortress Vatican.

In big numbers, that put about $73 million in 2009 into a sloshing petty cash drawer leaving acres and craters of disaster, war, oppression and disease unaddressed from the Throne of Peter. Multiply by a thousand years.

These numbers beg the question: Why would anyone in their right mind not get paralysis of the hand when this collection basket is passed this Saturday and Sunday?

Yet, we know there are many, many, many Catholics not only in the United States but throughout the world who will fill envelopes for this collection that will be supplemented by others loose bills poured into the soliciting baskets.

We ask them:

In light of this quote from Pope Benedict that was used to promote last year’s Peter Pence collection. “Let us make sure that none of God’s children ever feels alone” how about the Vatican pledge just 11% of this year’s take to survivors of sexual abuse of priests, bishops, cardinals, and nuns to ease the disaster, war, oppression and disease that’s befallen them?

This year, how about a novel approach: let’s make the apologies real, let’s put our money where our mouth is and “do everything possible” for victims of sexual abuse.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC
Contact: 937-272-0308/ KristineWard@hotmail.com

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Editorial

June 17, 2011

The Right to Return

by Kristine Ward

In diplomatic parlance, the phrase right to return is the shorthand for the tenet of international law that gives any person the right to return to and re-enter his or her country of origin.

Americans are familiar with the phrase being used during the Dayton Accords that settled the Bosnian conflict and in the continuing conflict in the Middle East particularly regarding Palestinians.

Startlingly, it came up in a different context this week at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) meeting and it is chilling.

Retired Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley took to the open session microphone (a large portion of the meeting was behind closed doors) on both Wednesday and Thursday to speak to putting priests who have been removed in the scandal back into ministry.

There have been whiffs of this foul smelling desire for retries during the nearly 10 year post Boston span of the scandal and a few end runs by removed priests who took their cases to the Vatican Congregation for Priests but none of the rumors or off hand remarks by hierarchs had been said in anything that resembled a public setting until this week’s USCCB meeting.

In this instance, as is often the case with matters the bishops consider delicate, a retired bishop carried the water while sitting jurisdictional bishops continued to profess the company line with no hint of deviation.

What makes Archbishop Hurley’s two day pitch so striking is his crassness of laying this concept on the platter of forgiveness all dressed up with a sprig of the Gospel. The usual bishop double speak was nowhere in evidence.

On day one of his pitch Hurley said a “goal” of reconciliation should be to put priest abusers back in ministry. He asked: “Don’t we believe in forgiveness?” After his pitch had marinated for a day, he warmed it up and served it on day two with a side dish of underdog. Said Hurley, “This (reinstalling removed priests) might stir up SNAP – so what? The press might come after us. It’s time we confronted them. The time is now, not later on.”

Juxtapose this approach with Child Protection Committee Chair Bishop Blaise Cupich’s ubiquitous quote” The Charter is working” and you have the bishops new plan stolen straight from the Taliban: take a few leaders out of play for a while, use words that sound civilized, bide your time, and when there is less interest by the outside world in what you’re doing, re-instate the chieftains.

This two day cameo appearance of Archbishop Hurley on the bishops’ national stage provides the stark silhouette of the dark side of those who have chosen to learn nothing in the scandal.

Before Archbishop Hurley or any of his colleagues use the word forgiveness again in the context of the scandal, we suggest they learn what justice means, what criminality means, and what rape and sodomy mean.

We suggest Archbishop Hurley and his colleagues go to their local rape crisis center and listen to victims since they steadfastly refuse to sit down with those who have been abused in their own Church because one of them might raise their voice.

We suggest they go to their local suicide prevention center for the midnight shifts.

We suggest they go to the unemployment line and the waiting line for medications for PTSD.

We suggest they go to the prisons.

We suggest they tell the Catholics who are still putting money in collection plates that they are still paying the priests they have removed in the scandal while they refuse to batter down Rome’s door to move on the cases before the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

But more importantly, we call upon Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to take off the glasses of willful blindness and see this “right of return” trial balloon for what it is: a fresh offensive.

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June 16, 2011

The following is a response to the column published in the Boston Globe yesterday titled: “Collateral Damage.” Article

McGrory response

by Paul Kellen

Brian McGrory tries to make a compelling case for mistreatment of Rev Charles Murphy. Alas, he supplies no relevant facts. Unfortunately he falls back on the tools of suggestion, deception and misdirection to make up for this absence of fact.

His use of ‘Innocent’ in his headline states his belief about this man. Rev Murphy was not ‘cleared’ of the accusation that he molested a young deaf girl. The review board did not “clear” Rev Murphy of the charges by the young man. McGrory labels his accusation an “unfounded complaint” but supplies no facts.

When the archdiocesan board’s ruling ‘not substantiated’ is reported there is no description by them of the facts or the standard of judgement used to reach this conclusion. Recall Rev. Bernard Law’s standard was often “Father said he didn’t do it”

No amount of admiration from his friends and parishioners changes this situation.

Joe Corcoran and Jack Pender may be substantial members of the community but they provide no facts.

McGrory’s treatment of the victims is pretty shabby. The woman dropped her complaint because she could not show it was within the statute of limitations. The insinuation is of a false allegation. The fact is that it was a legal technicality. The investigator’s facts, that the man had financial issues and family members who doubted him, prove nothing. It is not unusual for child sexual abuse victims to come from weak family systems or to make imprudent decisions in their adult life.

It is rare that a third party will be present during the abuse. This means that He Said – She Said is a likely situation. This is not resolved by noting that the accused is highly regarded and has done a lot of good. It is also not resolved by picking at the accusers shaky background or unsteady lifestyle choices. But this is the core of McGrory’s defense of Rev Murphy.

Perhaps Rev Murphy was an innocent man, poorly treated. But the villains are those in the Catholic hierarchy whose demonstrated behavior has been to shield criminal clergy, bully victims and turn the perpetrators loose on more defenseless children. To rely on the hierarchy’s secret review board reports as facts shows a disappointing naiveté for a major newspaper columnist.

Paul Kellen, Founding Member
National Survivor Advocates Coalition
Paulkellen@aol.com
781 526 5878/

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1st Editorial

June 15, 2011

The Priest’s Pledge

by Tom Myles

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is holding its annual meeting June 15 through June 18, 2011 in Bellevue, Washington. One item on the agenda is the revision of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Since its preparation in 2002 and later revision, the bishops have invested an inordinate amount of time and effort on a useless twenty-page charter.

It is indeed futile to dissect this furtive document. However, these are some key reasons why the document is a failure:

  • The Charter does not provide compensation for sexual abuse victims.
  • The Charter does not recognize that most victims, between 90 and 99%, never make an allegation.
  • The USCCB has no authority to enforce the document.
  • The Charter gives no responsibility to the laity.
  • Despite the bishops’ rhetoric, the vast majority of Catholics have no knowledge of the Charter
  • There is no independent audit of Dioceses’ compliance with the Charter.
  • Articles 6 and 12 of the Charter call for widely-publicized standards of conduct for clergy and youth workers, but these standards of conduct remain well-hidden. Just ask any Catholic if they know what the standards are.
  • The Charter imposes no penalty for a violation of the standards of conduct.
  • The members of the lay review board are appointed by the bishop, proceedings of lay review boards remain secret, and the board’s only stated function is to “advise” the bishop.
  • The Charter does not give any penalties for priests and bishops who have in the past, or in the future, conceal credibly-alleged sexual abusers from the public.

Instead of producing or revising another similar document, the Catholic bishops would be wise to revoke the document and replace it with a simple one-page document, The Priest’s Pledge. The intent of the Priest’s Pledge is to have each and every priest take responsibility for his actions and inactions in concealing a priest for whom there has been a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a child.

Full endorsement of The Priest’s Pledge will benefit three constituencies: Primarily it will aid the victims, but the laity and the priesthood will also benefit.

First of all, it helps victims. It is conservatively estimated that there have been more than a half million children abused by priests. By the bishops’ own self-reporting, the original John Jay Study enumerated 4392 priest for whom there has been a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. Coupled with the information provided by the National Institute of Mental Health that the typical male child abuser has 117 victims in his lifetime, it is easy to calculate that most victims remain anonymous. Further, the Diocese of Rockville Centre reported on its website that only between 1% and 10% of incidents of sexual abuse of a minor are ever reported. The Church can help all these victims by disclosing all its secrets.

Much too often victims suffer the effects of their abuse silently, and for decades without anyone else knowing of their plight. What a burden this must be! Often victims do not come forward because of the fear that their accusations will not be believed. Many victims who have come forward say it is almost just as painful as their pain of sexual abuse because Church authorities not only are not receptive, but also pressure them to remain quiet, or deny the accusation outright.

The Church is funded by voluntary contributions by the laity. While many Catholics still contribute to the Church, thousands have left the Catholic Church. Full disclosure of activities that led to the concealment of known abusers within the priesthood will go a long way to restoring trust in the Church hierarchy.

Since the expose’ of the sexual abuse crisis by The Boston Herald in 2002, a number of priests have complained that a dark cloud hovers over all priests because of the misdeeds of a small number of other priests. When all the facts are known, the cloud will only be over the abusers and those who conspired to conceal the abusers.

It is a burden to hold information from others. Surely release of all information will have a cathartic effect on sexual abuse victims, the laity, and the priesthood. We therefore strongly recommend that each and every priest, bishop, and the Pope take The Priest’s Pledge.

The Priest’s Pledge

I, an ordained priest in the Catholic Church, know that hundreds of thousands of children were abused by my brother priests. I take responsibility for being a part of this organization that has done so much harm to victims.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People states: “We now re-affirm that we will assist in the healing of those who have been injured, will do all in our power to protect children and young people, and will work with our clergy, religious, and laity to restore trust and harmony in our faith communities, as we pray for God’s kingdom to come, here on earth, as it is in heaven.”

In keeping with the spirit of the Charter I pledge to do the following:

I pledge to reveal all I know about the concealment of priests for whom there has been a credible allegation that he sexually abused a minor. I will publicly disclose to each parish or institution where I served the details of such concealment. I will report to the appropriate law enforcement agencies the same details.

I also further pledge to ardently urge my fellow priests, bishops, and the Pope to reveal all they know.

Finally, I apologize to the communities in which I served, and especially to victims, most of whom choose to remain anonymous.

______________________________________________ _______________________

Signature Date

______________________________________________

Print name

______________________________________________

Address

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2nd Editorial

June 15, 2011

The Men Who Put the Loop in Loophole

by Kristine Ward

The Bishops of the United States open a three day meeting today in Bellevue, WA, with revisions, actually slight edits, to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People on the table for a vote.

A “revision” the bishops are sure to tout to news media is a section in what is called a “Statement of Episcopal Commitment” that accompanies the Charter revisions that states: “We will apply the requirements of the Charter also to ourselves.”

The statement goes on to say, “Therefore if a bishop is accused of the sexual abuse of a minor the accused bishop is obliged to inform the Apostolic Nuncio. If another bishop becomes aware of the sexual abuse of a minor by another bishop or an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor by a bishop he too is obliged to inform the Apostolic Nuncio.”

The apostolic nuncio is the papal ambassador to the United States. He has no obligation nor is he given any in the document to inform anyone in the United States law enforcement offices. In fact, his office is swaddled in diplomatic immunity.

The “Statement of Episcopal Commitment” is in fact devoid of any real commitment and nothing in it puts any bishop in danger of being within a million miles of a courtroom let alone a prison for committing, being complicit with, or covering up criminal behavior which is what the rape and sodomy of children is.

The bishops know, as do their consultants and their staff, that the only portion of the Charter and its attendant documents that when the chips are down needs to adhere to are the Essential Norms approved to the Vatican.

Drum roll for the loophole. The Norms make no reference of reporting anything to the Apostolic Nuncio. In fact, the Norms state “Ultimately it is the responsibility of the diocesan bishop/eparch, with the advice of a qualified review board, to determine the gravity of the alleged act.” No judgment by the bishop of the gravity of the act, — his own or his brother bishop’s — no need to bother the Nuncio.

The lofty language of the Preamble of the Charter is a galaxy away from the reality of this year’s widely reported events in Philadelphia and Kansas City. In Philadelphia a grand jury found 37 priests accused of sexual abuse who had been allowed by the Cardinals of Philadelphia to remain in ministry. Cardinal Rigali in the white heat of media exposure removed 24 of them.

Don’t expect to see any bishop on the floor of this conference meeting walk over to Cardinal Rigali with the Apostolic Nuncio in tow for an “informing” chat. Nor should anyone anticipate seeing a stop at the seat occupied by Bishop Finn of Kansas City for an informed conversation on Finn’s foot-dragging on the removal of a priest charged with pornographic possession. Also not to be expected: head swivels towards Finn’s seat when the section of the Norms comes up that will put into the Norms the Vatican language of describing as a grave delict against morals “the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of a minor under age of 14″ being reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.”

The “revisions” to the Charter amount to a pushing around of a few words, a note entered to conform Norm language with Vatican language, a few date changed to record the length of years of this current incarnation of the scandal, and a section’s paragraphs reordered, — all of which took, we are sure, a mountain of emails, lights burning into the night, and gobs of paper print outs.

The essence of the “revised” Charter loops back to what it was at its inception: words disguised as action made all the worse by using language which should be reserved for the holy to prop up the profane.

It was St. Paul who wrote, “If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1)

And the band played on.

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Editorial

May 20, 2011

Funders of the John Jay Report

We are publishing the funders of the John Jay Report, which was released Wednesday, as the list is presented in the report. The report does not include the funding levels.

We are providing most of the information on the funding levels based on the information in John Jay College’s point person for the study, Karen Terry’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) on the college’s website. The amounts for the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Mutual Fund, and individual donors information comes from a Catholic News Service story published Thursday.

We ask our readers to remember that this is a report that the bishops said in its commissioning out of the Dallas 2002 USCCB meeting would be its responsibility. This was part of the bishops’ post-Boston response to the scandal. There was no mention then of panhandling to pay for it.

We note with particular interest that the taxpayers contributed to this report in a National Institute of Justice grant of $283,652. The Institute is part of the United States Department of Justice.

We raise a quizzical eyebrow at some of the donors including the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, an organization described on its website as serving eight counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, and the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, which, according to its website serves Memphis and the mid-South and curiously in the individual donors section $242 is identified by the Catholic News Service story as contributions from “individual members of Voice of the Faithful”

Two religious orders of women, the Sisters of Charity Ministry Fund, and the Daughters of Charity are contributors.

Noting that the bishops’ money is Catholic contributors’ money, our question for the contributors to the bishops’ amount and the donors/members/investors of the other organizations is: do you think you got your money’s worth?

Here’s the list:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – $1 million according to Karen Terry CV amount, $918, 000 Catholic News Service story amount

National Institute of Justice (United States Department of Justice) – $283,652 (figures identified with grant number 20092009-IJ-CX-0036)

Knights of Columbus – $250,000

Raskob Foundation – $100,000

Catholic Mutual Group – $50,000

Sisters of Charity Ministry Foundation – $25,000

Luce Foundation – $25,000

Catholic Health Association of the United States – $25,000

St. Joseph’s Health System – $15, 000

Greater Cincinnati Foundation – $10,000

Assisi Foundation of Memphis – $5,000

Daughters of Charity Foundation/Province of the West – $1,000

“Anonymous” donations – $100,000

Individual donors – $242 from Voice of the Faithful members

— Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair

[The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of Catholics and men and women of goodwill formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while working for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.]

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Editorial

May 18, 2011

The John Jay Report Release

Our Concern Rests with the Survivors Today

Our first concern today as we alert our readers to the release of the John Jay Report is for the survivors and their families and for the families of those who committed suicide as it will be a day with increased news coverage about sexual abuse which brings with it the searing tearing at scars, the churning of memories, the trauma of flashback, and quite simply, pain. We renew our commitment to walk with you.

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice report known as “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests 1950-2010 was five years in the making at a cost of nearly $2 million paid mostly by the bishops, 300 pages based on data whose primary sources is dioceses and religious orders.

From the pre-publication news reports (the embargo on the release is afternoon Wednesday 5/18/11) it appears that this outlay of Catholic money by the bishops and the use of four years of study has concluded first the crisis simply was, it has passed, and the “was” (Philadelphia notwithstanding) “was” due to the sexually permissive culture of the 1960s and 1970s.

This begs these questions:

Since this has been the mantra of the hierarchy at least since the Dallas bishops meetings in 2002 if not before what does the funding and the cooperation of the bishops for the report’s data do to its outcome?

What weight does the study give to the knowledge that has been gained in the scandal that it takes victims into their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s to come forward? That puts anyone abused in the 1980s at just the brink of their “going public” time frame (somewhere in their 30s or 40s). For knowledge of what happened in most of the 1980s, the 1990s and 2001-10, through today we will have to wait 20, 30, 40,50, 60 to 70 plus years.

If the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s had such an effect on the ministers of the Church as to allow rape and sodomy of children to take hold even within a percentage of its celibate priests for an “aberrant” two decades, what does this say about a self-identified counter cultural institution’s ability to see, arm against, and force out the parts of a corruptive culture taking root within itself?

There are disturbing items in the pre-publication reports, among them: “it is inaccurate to refer to abusers as pedophile priests” because fewer than 5 percent of the abusive priests exhibited behavior consistent with pedophilia.”

The study, it seems, bases this conclusion on a definition of “psychiatric disorder characterized by recurrent fantasies, urges and behaviors about prepubescent children.” Since this information about who had and who didn’t have “fantasies and urges” would have to come directly from the abusers, it will be important to know how many abusers were directly interviewed and how these abusers were identified for the study.

The study also says that abusive priests could not be identified “in advance”. It will be important to see if the report speaks to the evidence that when abusive priests were identified by victims, parents, other relatives, attorneys, those who worked in parishes or other settings with them that the reality of identifying and removing abusive priests, it appears, was not possible either. If there are no identifiers, shouldn’t that mean that all the stops on the vigilance scale should be pulled out to protect children, – beginning today – such as extension of statute of limitations and windows that offer access to justice?

With the release of the report and its reading, we are certain to have more to say.

We ask our readers to engage in the discussion as well with comments to us, letters to the editor of local and national secular and religious newspapers and broadcast outlets. Please speak out.

— Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair

[The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of Catholics and men and women of goodwill formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while working for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.]

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EDITORIAL

May 17, 2011

Guidelines, Really?

On Monday, the Vatican published its “Circular Letter to assist Episcopal Conferences in developing guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by clerics.”

This missive, described by the Vatican’s own news service as “short but very dense” comes at the historical juncture when:

  • the money total for settlements in the United States alone is over $3 billion,
  • the scandal is making regular appearances in the print and broadcast media in the United States, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Chile, Mexico, Spain, England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, Malta, Canada, Netherlands – to name a few.
  • the scandal is a regular item for papal trips
  • and we are within the 60 day window of response time for the Vatican to the lawsuit filed against Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials and the best the Vatican can put forward is the development of “guidelines” by bishops?

The Church does not ascribe to The Ten Guidelines. It believes in The Ten Commandments.

It does not have Guidelines of the Church; it has Precepts of the Church.

It does not have guidelines formed through a Circular Letter approach for abortion, ordination, or homosexual persons. It has policy.

In addition to the lack of mandated reporting to law enforcement, a proscription for hierarchy accountability, and a preponderance of intentionally vague language, we point out to our readers that the document also includes two whipping backhands of rebuke to laity:

  • the first is in the following phrasing “ consultative bodies of review and discernment concerning individual cases, foreseen in some places, cannot substitute for the discernment and potestas regiminis of individual bishops;
  • and the second is the total lack of mention of religious women or responsibilities regarding abuse by the Religious Superiors of Women. This deliberate omission is really a double whammy. So much a rebuke is it that they are not even mentioned.

To save the bishops of the world time, effort, and money that will otherwise be spent on staff, light bills for late night meetings in chanceries, and takeout meals, plus the computers, toners, and paper for mountains of edited texts, we are providing a response for sending to the Vatican.

This list will fit on one piece of paper and will free up the better part of year:

  • It is a crime to rape or sodomize a child or a minor
  • Priests, whether secular or religious, who do it are no longer priests
  • Nuns who do it are no longer nuns.
  • Religious brothers who do it are no longer religious brothers.
  • Bishops who cover up for priests or nuns who do it are no longer bishops.
  • Same holds true for cardinals and popes.
  • Priests, bishops, cardinals, popes and religious women and men who have information regarding abuse by priests, bishops, cardinals, popes and religious women and men will provide it to law enforcement
  • Crimes will be reported to police.
  • In the countries of the world where the police cannot be trusted, information will be provided to a newly created independent reporting unit based on the prototype model of the International Court of Justice, to be staffed by law enforcement officials of the highest caliber with the bill sent to the Vatican.
  • Bishops, priests, cardinals and popes, religious women and men will walk with and care for their brother priests, bishops, cardinals and popes, religious brothers and sisters who are religious women who are prosecuted and found guilty of sexual abuse of a child or a minor to prison and beyond. Same goes for being companions on the tough road for those who are prosecuted and found to be innocent.
  • Priests, bishops, cardinals, popes and nuns, religious women and men will be the leaders for reform of statutes of limitations.
  • When expert help is needed for victims and their families, they get it.
  • Bishops, cardinals and popes take their own advice: listen to the victims.
  • Same goes for priests, religious women and men: listen to the victims.

Short of the simple, pointed and direct approach, the Vatican will only continue to layer pancake makeup on a heavily ridged face.

All that does is increase the disfigurement in the eyes of the beholders.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

[The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of Catholics and men and women of goodwill formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while working for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.]

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EDITORIAL

May 12, 2011

An Oregon Province Jesuit as US House Chaplain?

A Jesuit of the Oregon Province, Father Patrick Conroy has been nominated to be the 60th chaplain of the United State House of Representatives.

The nomination was made on May 6. The full House is expected to vote on the nomination within two weeks.

As readers of NSAC News are well aware, in late March, the Oregon Province of the Jesuits settled lawsuits with approximately 500 victims by agreeing to a $166.1 settlement, the largest sexual abuse settlement by a religious order in the United States. Victims’ lawyers said that 57 Jesuit priests or brothers of the Oregon Province had abused.

Even before this settlement and the Northwest Jesuits filing for bankruptcy in 2009, the Oregon Province of the Jesuits had settled 200 abuse cases for about $84 million.

The Oregon Province covers Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. Many of the victims were Native Americans or Alaska Natives.

When Speaker of the House John Boehner made the announcement of the nomination the news release said the announcement was made in concert with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Subsequently, it has been reported, Leader Pelosi pulled back from her consent but last evening news stories reported that after a second look at the nomination she saw “no obstacle” to Father Conroy being confirmed for the post.

This is the not the time to place a member of the Oregon Province of the Jesuits in a position of privilege and influence.

This is not about whether a priest who abused has been nominated. Father Conroy is not one of the 57 Oregon Province abusers included in the lawsuits.

This is about the distinction of this office, and how the United States House of the Representatives views the selection and confirmation of the chaplain. This is not a voluntary position. The US House chaplain is paid roughly $170,000. This is public money.

Members of religious orders are bound together for good or for ill. It’s the nature of the organization. “The Company”, as the Jesuits are known, has dealt with sexual abuse in the same way as bishops: denial and cover up until sued, bankruptcy filing when cases moved to real court dates, settlements to keep victims from telling their stories in open court. There has not been from this elite corps of the Church vigor of action and resources to set a new course for the protection of children or access to justice for victims who have been denied it because of short span statute of limitations. The bulwark of the old ways remains.

This nomination should be withdrawn. If the Speaker does not see the light then as we seek to form a more perfect union, establish justice and promote the general welfare, sacrifices must be made. Father Conroy should have the good sense to ask that his name be withdrawn. If he doesn’t then a Superior of the Oregon Province needs to take action to this end.

This is not about egos, friendships, school affiliations, admirations or who will be the first to back down. We are not engaged in a school yard brawl. We are asking for serious, sensible, sensitive leadership from the Speaker and all members of the US House.

The pool to choose a person for US House chaplain is not small.

By the Yearbook of American and Canadian Church’s count there are 600,000 men and women serving as clergy in various denominations in the United States not including those serving in independent churches.

By the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ count 40,788 of them are priests in the United States. Father Conroy whose nomination comes with a sting and slap for victims is hardly the only choice for this post.

Please speak out on this issue. Contact Speaker Boehner and your representative to the United States House today. Here is the link for an easy to use website to obtain email addresses and phone numbers for members of the United States Congress www.contactingthecongress.org

Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

[The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while working for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.]

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EDITORIAL

May 9, 2011

Jesuit Officials Prepare To Employ Hardball Legal Tactics Against Haitian Child Sex Abuse Victims

by Paul Kendrick

Rev. Paul Carrier, S.J. Hides In Disgrace. Lacks Courage To Tell The Truth.

As I stood in Doug Perlitz’s empty bedroom in Haiti, I noticed a “Fairfield University Alumni” decal attached to the window pane. Perlitz had previously raped and sodomized children in this very room. As I pointed to the “Alumni” decal, one of Perlitz’s abuse victims asked me how I knew about Fairfield University. I told him that this is the place (along with my Jesuit high school) where I first learned that the “service of my faith must include the promotion of justice.”

I returned to Haiti three weeks ago to check on the care being provided to the former Project Pierre Toussaint (PPT) students who were abused by Fairfield University alumnus, Douglas Perlitz. Perlitz served for eleven years as Executive Director of Project Pierre Toussaint in Cap Haitien, Haiti. Twenty-two boys have reported that they were sexually abused by Perlitz. An additional sixty four boys were tossed back into the streets when PPT was forced to close.

In December 2010, and in the face of increasingly negative press and media pressure, Fairfield University President Jeffrey von Arx, S.J. and Catholic Order of Malta officials pledged $120,000 each to Kids’ Alive, an evangelical Christian missionary group, to provide a five year plan of basic services to the abuse victims including nourishing food, safe shelter, clothing, school placement, medical and dental treatment, and guidance counseling. Von Arx’s contribution amounts to 77 cents per day, per student, or together with Malta, $1.54 per day, per student.

Cyrus Sibert (reseaucitadelle@gmail.com), the Haitian journalist who, in November 2007, first broke the story about the sexual abuse of PPT students on his radio program, is trusted, respected and depended upon by the abuse victims. On two separate occasions, Cyrus and I gathered for two hours each with seventeen of the victims. I wanted to learn first hand about their daily struggles. I wanted to know what every minute of their days and nights are like. Are they being fed each day? Where do they sleep? Do they have soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste and running water? Do they wear the same clothes each day? How are they doing in school? When they are ill, are they taken to a doctor?

But most important, I wanted to know if the fact that these kids have been traumatized and harmed by child sex abuse is being acknowledged and considered by the Kids’ Alive staff as the staff interacts in their lives. The answer is yes and no.

Kids’ Alive officials have agreed with me that third party mental health intervention by qualified professionals, who are skilled in treating child sex abuse victims, is needed immediately. I will be asking President von Arx to provide funding for extended mental health treatment.

It was heartbreaking to listen as the abuse victims told me that many of the other former PPT students call them names and make fun of them for “doing sex things” with Perlitz. They said that people near the Kids’ Alive center stare at them, knowing what happened to them. Many of the boys nodded and loudly said “yes” when one of them told me that h e feels very sad with a pain in his stomach and wants to hide or sleep all the time. He doesn’t know the right words to describe clinical depression. Their is not adequate staff at the Kids’ Alive Center yet to provide an ear to listen. The Kids’ Alive manager responsible for the Cap Haitian area has only visited the site twice.

I appeared twice on Cyrus Sibert’s radio program and told the Haitian people that these boys are heroes. After all, they somehow found the strength and courage, in the midst of their own pain and suffering, to speak out publicly against a popular and charismatic serial child molester and, in doing so, have protected cou ntless other children from being abused by Perlitz. Child abuse can never, ever be consensual, I told the audience. It is never the child’s fault. In our meetings with the boys, I said these same words to them over and over. Once again, there is an immediate need for the victims to receive professional mental health treatment.

A child sex abuse victim’s biggest fear is that if they do tell someone, they won’t be believed. When the boys first reported their abuse, Father Paul Carrier, S.J., and eleven other former PPT and Connecticut Order of Malta members signed a letter to prominent donors in which Carrier and the others called the boys who reported their abuse “liars.” One of these people is Hope Carter of New Canaan, CT who currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Malta sponsored Sacre Coeur Hospital in Milot, Haiti. Cyrus and I traveled to the Sacre Coeur hospital to distribute leaflets to hospital administrators and staff. In addition, we met with community leaders in Milot and spoke again on the radio in an effort to inform the Haitian people that Carter had “obstructed justice’ by flying to Haiti to secretly remove Perlitz’s two computers and had called the boys “liars” without ever listening to what they had to say. She must be held accountable and responsible for not caring about your children, I said. She protected a pedophile instead of your kids. Word is spreading that an American named Hope Carter has insulted the abuse victims and the Haitian people. She must be removed from her position.

In addition, American workers who lived and worked in Haiti with Perlitz need to get honest about their roles in the cover up of Perlitz’s abuse of children. We spent many hours with some of the abuse victims at Perlitz’s residence. The victims told us that American workers, Jessica Lozier, Nicholas Prenata (two of the signers of the letter that said the boys were “liars”) and Bridget McLean, all of whom lived in the house with Perlitz, were present on dozens of occasions as Perlitz led boys away from the living quarters to sleep with him in his private lower level suite. Lozier, Preneta, McLean and others, would then see the same boys again in the morning. Robenson Gedeus, the Haitian PPT official who, in January 2006, confronted Perlitz about abusing children, told me that on one of his visits to the U.S., he told a friend, a Fairfield, Connecticut school teacher, that Perlitz was abusing children. He said she cried when she heard this, but she either took no action or told a PPT board member who took no action to stop the abuse of the children in Haiti.

I also discovered that Sylvester Tan, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic from the New Orleans province, slept in a small space just outside Perlitz’s bedroom while Tan worked at PPT during the first four months of 2008. I was told that Tan saw boys going to and from Perlitz’s room to the bathroom and knew that boys stayed all night with Perlitz in Per litz’s bedroom which was next to the room Tan slept in. Since returning from Haiti I have sent several emails to the New Orleans Jesuit Provincial asking for contact information for Sylvester Tan. My emails remain unanswered.

Has anyone confronted Deborah Picarazzi of Fairfield University’s Campus Ministry to ask what she knows, saw or heard? She was a PPT board member in addition to working side by side with Carrier each day. Although I have asked for her help, she refuses to return my messages.

Cyrus and I met with two Kids’ Alive officials at the two room “Boys’ Center” in Cap Haitien. It was a contentious and boisterous meeting to say the least. Cyrus, who has lived and breathed the trials and tribulations of these boys for three plus years, including feeding them and listening to them when no one else would, was in no mood for excuses. Neither was I. When I asked if the victims had received physical exams, I was told that lots of people in Haiti don’t get annual exams. I reminded the official that these boys had been raped and sodomized. Perlitz may have infected them with HIV or another sexually transmitted disease. When asked, neither official knew if all of the victims and other students had safe shelter to go to each each night. One of the officials told me that many Haitian kids sleep outdoors. I ve hemently objected by saying that some of the boys are exhausted when they begin school each day. Does a person just get used to shivering in the night because he is Haitian? Where do the boys wash themselves and brush their teeth? The officials agreed to interview each of the eighty six boys to establish a case file for each boy’s needs.

Every two weeks, the eighty six boys are being provided with a two week supply of rice, beans and charcoal by Kids’ Alive. This is what the boys asked for and Kids’ Alive officials have accommodated their needs.

As I am writing, I have to wonder how many members of the Fairfield University community even care about the horrific harms and injuries inflicted upon these children. Many people ask, “What does the sexual abuse of children at a school in Haiti have to do with us?” Some members of the Fairfield University community appear more upset that the school’s name is being tarnished than they care about offering care and support to those who were abused. As an example, I asked at least six alumni groups to help support the victims. I received only one response: “Delete my name from your list.” At least one distinguished professor was more upset by my “methods” than he was at the actual abuse of the children and cover up.

Last, but not least, is Father Paul Carrier, S.J. Why does Carrier refuse to help us examine the causes and conditions that allowed so many children to be sexually abused for so many years? Will Carrier help the victims find a measure of justice by telling us the truth of what happened? What does he know (or not know). Why is Carrier hiding?

The very first thing I said to the boys when we met is “I want you to know how sorry I am for what happened to you.” They need to keep hearing it wasn’t their fault.

Further, I told them that there are tens of thousands of victims/survivors, supporters and child protection advocates throughout the world who thank you for your courage, support you and care about you.

The first of 22 civil lawsuits has been filed in federal court in Connecticut on behalf of the boys who were sexually abused by Perlitz.

May the truth be told and justice served.

Paul Kendrick
Freeport, Maine
Fairfield University ’72
kendrickpt@aol.com 207 838 1319/

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EDITORIAL

April 29, 2011

Beatify But Verify

First, and always, at the top of our list as the news coverage of the beatification of Pope John Paul II pushes to the crescendo of the actual event, our concern lies with the survivors, their families, and the families of those who committed suicide.

These days of increased ink and images of the late pontiff, the pageantry of Vatican ceremony and the anticipated adulating crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday contribute, we know, to the distress levels, consciously and unconsciously for survivors and their families.

We ask our readers to be particularly aware as we walk through these days that for survivors there is hurt inflicted, memories surfacing that are unbidden and unwanted, scars gouged in their most searing spots and unsettling pain to be endured as responsibility for not upending an ugly and demonic scandal is written off by defenders of Pope John Paul II’s as a minor irritation dredged up by party spoilers.

Why the person with the most power in the Church didn’t act to set into motion resolute reform is a legitimate question that not only needs to be asked but begs to be asked and answered.

For those among our readers and their friends and acquaintances who may have difficulty framing this question we highly recommend Jason Berry’s article The Shame of John Paul II: How the Sex Abuse Scandal Stained His Papacy which we are running as part of today’s NSAC News digest.

(Mr. Berry has done yeoman’s work in his pursuit of the truth of the sexual abuse scandal in both the book and documentary titled Vows of Silence. We eagerly look forward to his new book Render Unto Rome as he delves into the life of the Church’s money with his exceptional investigative reporting skill).

The haunting question of why Pope John Paul did not lift up the innocent victims of sexual abuse by priests and nuns with the dynamism he displayed on other life issues or rid the Church of perpetrators with the vigor of annihilation that he showed toward communism should cling to St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday like volcanic ash.

Only truth will clear the air.

Sunday’s beatification is estimated to cost 3.5 million Euros the equivalent of 5.1 million US dollars. That would pay a lot of therapy bills for survivors of sexual abuse.

Pope John Paul II was the master of the grand stroke, the dramatic, and the unexpected. If beatification is, as the Great Beatifier himself told us, the marking that calls for emulation then may the obvious fall on the closest on Sunday’s grand stage.

Because there is so little expectation that Pope Benedict will take industrial strength action in the crisis the beckoning of blessedness upon his predecessor holds unique opportunity.

For the current occupant of St. Peter’s Throne this beatification offers the opening for the dramatic: the ultimate coming clean.

But by our reckoning Sunday’s ceremony will be a cracking whip on the stampeding race to sainthood.

Into Monday’s dawn, we raise the call: beatify but verify.

Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC 937-272-0308/ KristineWard@hotmail.com

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of in the pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their familiess while working for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.

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April 14, 2011

EDITORIAL

THE AUDIT REPORT

Chapter 3 – Audit Findings

Eight Young Lives

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) calls your attention to the following statistics in the Audit Report on compliance with the US Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

NSAC has added the italics, underlining and the bold print.

“During the 2010 audit period, thirty allegations were made by current minors. Of these, eight were considered credible by law enforcement, seven were determined to be false, twelve were determined to be boundary violations, and three are still under investigation.”

Reporting rape and sodomy is a daunting and courageous act by an adult.

Consider what is required of a child to report this heinous and life altering behavior.

In 2010 eight reports, the audit says, were determined to be credible, three are still under investigation.

That’s at minimum eight young lives – and three more in the balance — that have been seared by sexual abuse. Not statistics. Eight young lives.

Think about the minors in your life. Which eight plus three are expendable in your judgment to sexual abuse?

Which child in your family, in the grocery checkout line ahead of you, in the car beside you in traffic, in the pew in front of you in church, is expendable to sexual abuse?

If it’s okay with you that at minimum eight current minors have been exploited and are reported in the 2010 audit after nearly 10 years of words and congratulations on the Bishops’ part then please, do nothing.

If it’s not, at minimum, please write a letter today to the editor of your local newspaper and your local Catholic paper. Speak up. Speak out. Speak forcefully.

This is about the protection of children.

Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

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April 13, 2011

EDITORIAL

THE AUDIT REPORT

Charter Drift

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) calls your attention to the following section in the Audit Report on compliance with the US Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. [NSAC has added the italics and the bold print.]

“The increased number of Management Letters (NSAC Note: 55 out of 188 dioceses received management letters from the current audit — there are 195 dioceses and eparchies, 2 dioceses and 5 eparchies refused to participate in the 2010 audit) seems to indicate a drift away from the practices and procedures of the past. A number of the Management Letters dealt with Bishop Aymond’s memo of March 31, 2006, that requires pastors to verify that the policies and procedures of the diocese are being implemented at the parish level. The memo also requires written opt-out letters from parents choosing not to have their children participate in safe environment training. Though these requirements have been in effect since 2006, eighteen dioceses advised that they were unaware of the requirement and thus failed to get such documentation from pastors.62 2010 Annual Report: Findings and Recommendations”

Other examples of drift include:

Failing to meet with major superiors of all religious orders in a diocese (NSAC Note: this refers to Bishops meeting with major superiors)

Downsizing, consolidating, or redistributing tasks of the Safe Environment Office, causing some important tasks to be overlooked. The economy seems to have had a compounding effect on this.

Allowing removed clerics to celebrate public liturgies (NSAC Note: Permission to celebrate public liturgies is given to priests or withheld from priests by Bishops)

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People isn’t a strong document.

Now there is drift from even the minimum of pledges.

Remember, this is coming from volunteered information by managers of dioceses. The auditors have no subpoena power. There is no independent look at what Bishops are doing. It can’t be verified that what is given to the auditors is all the manager of a diocese, the Bishop, knows.

If you think this information means sleeves are rolled up, senses are heightened, and everyone’s on guard to protect children from rape and sodomy, please do nothing.

BUT, if you think Charter Drift is both an arrogant and an appalling development, please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and your local Catholic paper and speak out.

Only a few lines are necessary to make your point.

This is about the protection of children. It will be the most important thing you do today.

Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

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April 12, 2011

EDITORIAL

THE AUDIT REPORT

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) calls your attention to two sections of the Audit Report on compliance with the US Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

NSAC has added the italics.

“LIMITATIONS/PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED

Completeness/Accuracy

As in past years, in order to reach a conclusion of compliance or noncompliance, both types of audits relied on the completeness and accuracy of the information provided to the auditors by diocesan/eparchial personnel. For those audits performed on-site, the auditors did not examine personnel files or other confidential materials. Additionally, though the auditors reviewed many documents while on-site, a notation on the respective audit response letter to the diocese/eparchy from The Gavin Group, Inc. stated that the conclusions reached as to the compliance of the diocese/eparchy with the Charter were based on the completeness and accuracy of the information furnished by the diocese/eparchy to The Gavin Group, Inc.

Timeliness

The dioceses/eparchies that participated in the twothirds data collection audits were instructed to submit the completed audit documents to the auditor by August 31, 2010. As in prior audit periods, that deadline was not met by a significant number of dioceses/eparchies. To complicate matters, requests for clarification by the auditors were often not addressed by diocesan personnel in a timely manner. The late submission of audit documents by some of the dioceses/eparchies participating in the data collection audits also had a tendency to include numbers that fell outside the parameters of the audit, thus taking more time than normally allotted for the data collection.”

If you think this information gives comfort to Catholic parents and grandparents and shows the strong dedication of the leaders of the faith to protect children, please do nothing.

BUT, if you think just these two sections of the audit give you a different picture, please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and your local Catholic paper and speak out. It will only take a few minutes. Most letters can be submitted via the Internet.

It’s about the protection of children.

Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

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Guest Opinion

February 22, 2011

It’s deeds not words that begin true healing.

“We want to be part of a church that puts survivors, the victims of abuse, first – ahead of self-interest, reputation, and institutional needs,” O’Malley said.

It is unlikely that a third party will be present when a priest sexually abuses a child. So it is often a situation of he says she says. We face a choice between the safety of the child and the reputation of the priest. We need to give the benefit of the doubt to the child. This would appear to be the content of the Cardinal’s words.

But not his deeds. He has reinstated into parish ministry at least six men who were party to court actions, both criminal and civil, where the plaintiff has prevailed. Does this put children first?

“The first step towards any form of healing is to allow the truth to come out,” said Martin,…” Is Archbishop Martin only talking about Irish truth? Our Cardinal promised several years ago to publicly identify those who have been accused. We are still waiting. And we may well ask which accused will we hear about, the deceased accused, the credibly(according to O’Malley) accused, the falsely accused or what?

“On behalf of the Holy Father, I ask forgiveness, for the sexual abuse of children perpetrated by priests, and the past failures of the church’s hierarchy, here and in Rome – the failure to respond appropriately to the problem of sexual abuse,” said O’Malley. I haven’t found the place in Catholic theology describing the practice of confessing and atoning for the sins of another.

Finally, our Cardinal makes a point about his meetings with survivors. Has he listened? I know scores of survivors and most cannot go into a church without reliving trauma, let alone be party to planning a liturgy. Perhaps this the latest event is a strategy of Rasky Baerlein, the diocesan publicity firm. They won a national prize for their work on the Pope/survivor meeting in Washington in 2006. They, after all, only need to make the Cardinal look good not understand the needs of survivors.

Paul F. Kellen,
NE Co-coordinator,
National Survivor Advocates Coalition,
Medford, MA — 781 395 3628/

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EDITORIAL

February 21, 2011

BELLA FIGURA

(Fine appearance or good impression)

Each time a hierarch such as Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia says to survivors of clergy abuse, with seeming remorse, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”…

Each time a hierarch says he will work with the district attorney’s office, but yet in the background fights with all of his power (and parishioner’s donations) to stop the progress of freeing up statute of limitations…

Each time government officials or police have deferred to the church officials for fear of placing themselves on the wrong side of this almighty power…

Each time a hierarch says he knows with certainty there are no more pedophile priests in his diocese…

Each time a diocese plays the bankruptcy/penniless card…

Each time one more survivor comes forward to speak the truth and has been bullied or lied to by the hierarch in an attempt to be silenced, or in despair commits suicide…

Each time one more country discovers the despicable truth of what is and has truly gone on behind the scenes of their church for generations…

Each time a committed parishioner who believes the clergy abuse horror has been sufficiently dealt with is blindsided by the fact the pastor is an abuser, and that the bishop or his appointed staff has known but has continued to keep the priest in service…

Each time…each time…there is a resounding within me as a constant tolling of a bell with words, “Bella figura, Bella figura.” For this is what it all is; a façade that appears to be beautiful and holy, rather like a stage setting. And just as the appearance to the audience can seem real, it is behind the scenes that truly reveals the inner workings, but is to never be shown publicly. Unfortunately, it is behind the scenes where devious actions have taken place within the Church. In speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you frauds! You are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful to look at on the outside but inside full of filth ad dead men’s bones. Thus you present to view a holy exterior while hypocrisy and evil fill you within.” Does this ring true today?

Now is the time to tear down these walls of illusion, built upon lies, deceit, and the pain of thousands of children and families. Truth, and the demand for justice for all who have suffered at the hands of this self-imposed leadership must become a groundswell of change…change that resounds with Christ’s words of, “Let the children come to me.”

• If you are a reader of NSAC News and would like to become more involved in this movement, there’s two things you can do immediately. Write a letter to your newspaper about the Philadelphia Grand Jury, asking if your district attorney will convene a grand jury.

• Write a letter to the editor asking why your bishop hasn’t released all the names of credibly accused priests in your diocese. There are 37 that we know of at the end of two grand jury reports.

• There’s plenty more to do! To be part of it, send an email to Kris Ward kristineward@hotmail.com or me at ginnyhoehne@yahoo.com to…

END BELLA FIGURA!

Ginny Hoehne, NSAC member, Survivor’s mother

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EDITORIAL

February 11, 2011

NSAC to Catholics: Drop the Blindfolds, Get Educated

National Survivor Advocates Coalition Statement on the Arrest February 10, 2011 of 4 priests, including the head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Clergy and the Philadelphia Report
 

Today’s events in Philadelphia cry out for all Catholics in the pews in Philadelphia no matter how shocked they may be by today’s arrests to drop their blindfolds and educate themselves about sexual abuse in the Church. Go to the primary source: the victims. Hear their stories. Listen to them. Act as Catholics should act: demand justice no matter where the journey to justice leads.

NSAC calls on all Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to let these events and the Philadephia report spur them to act to protect just one child: their child, their grandchild, the child in the grocery store line ahead of them, a child that is born this day.

The arrests in Philadelphia today and the grand jury report put the lie to Cardinal Justin Rigali’s and all of his United States Conference of Catholic Bishops colleagues matra that the clergy sexual abuse scandal is history. Indeed it is not. And indeed the Church has not been in the lead of reform.

NSAC calls today for an end to the stonewalling and the beginning of truth telling by the Catholic Church regarding sexual abuse. Only the truth ends this terrible tradegy perpetrated on innocent children, the very people the Church should be protecting.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Philadelphia report says “Secretary for Clergy Lynn (who was arrested today) . . . treated victims as potential plaintiffs. Not only did they not receive apologies acknowledging their abuse, but many were bullied, intimidated, lied to, even investigated themselves,” the report said. It also accused Lynn of repeatedly failing to investigate abuse charges, reassigning abusive priests, and concealing their crimes from civil authorities and the Catholic laity. “It became apparent to the Grand Jurors that Msgr. Lynn was handling the cases precisely as his boss [Bevilacqua] wished,”

The question that also cries out for an answer from Cardinal Justin Rigali whom Monsignor Lynn also advised and served: When Cardinal Rigali came to power in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia what were his instructions to Monsignor Lynn on handling clergy sexual abuse cases?

Cardinal Rigali’s obligations are to the truth not the cover-up, to the victims not the abusers and their enablers, even if this includes himself.

We express our concern to and for all victims in the Philadelphia Archdiocese and to all victims for whom today’s report will produce trauma. Our hearts and our support go out to them.

We remind all Catholics and all men and women of goodwill that it is only through the noble courage of the survivors and the families of those who committed suicide that we have come to know the evil of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. For this, we are all in their everlasting debt. It is the truth and not the cover-up that will set us free. Justice Brandeis was right: sunlight is the best disinfectant.

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of in the pew Catholics formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while advocating for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.

Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), 937-272-0308/KristineWard@hotmail.com

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March 29, 2011 

Boston College failing innocent children 

“Church in the 21st Century” program has lost its way 

WHAT

Speaking publicly and passing out flyers, alumni of Boston College will urge Boston College officials and students to: 

     — contact officials of the C21C program (617 552 0470/) and urge them to: 

     — a.) HELP us restore integrity to the C21C Program; and 

     — b.) issue a public apology for the hurt they are causing 

     — c.) establish an outreach to survivors to recover some needed sensitivity 

WHEN 

Today, Tuesday, March 29 at 3:15 p.m. 

WHERE 

Boston College Main Gate at 140 Commonwealth Ave, Chestnut Hill, MA [Boyden Park entrance] 

WHO 

Two or three individuals, including a 1958 alumni of Boston College 

WHY 

Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century (C21C) program was started as a response to the clergy sexual abuse revelations in 2002. In recent months it has honored two clerics who have been responsible for the climate which made this scandal possible. 

Invited speaker Francis Cardinal George of Chicago ignored his own review board’s recommendation to remove Rev. McCormack as a pastor. Within months McCormack abused another child and was arrested. 

McCormack is now in jail and Francis George is an honored guest speaker at C21C. What is wrong with this picture? 

Invited speaker Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles lied under oath about pedophile activity in his diocese during the infamous trial of Rev. Oliver O’Grady. O’Grady was jailed but on release given a guaranteed retirement package by Mahoney. O Grady left the US ignoring subpoenas for further testimony.

Recently, as part of his $660 million abuse settlement Mahony agreed to release diocesan documents on the alleged abusers named by victims. He is now funding court action by these individuals to prevent the release of documents.

Roger Mahony is today’s honored guest speaker. What is wrong with this picture?

CONTACT:   Paul Kellen – Boston College Class of 58, cell phone 781 395 3628/, National Survivor Advocates Coalition – Massachusetts Member  

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of in the pew Catholics formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while advocating for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.

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Archbishop Dolan’s Posturing Hogwash about USCCB and Zero Toleranc 

National Survivor Advocates Coalition Statement 

March 28, 2011 

Contact: Kristine Ward, 937-272-0308/ 

Archbishop Dolan’s statement on behalf of the Administrative Committee of the United States Catholic Conference (USCCB) is a starburst of light on a huge defect in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People: no sanctions, discipline, removal or even slap on the wrist for any hierarch who doesn’t comply with zero tolerance. 

Zero tolerance is about placing priests on administrative leave. Priests don’t place themselves on administrative leave. Bishops have to do it. Bishops defeat zero tolerance by not removing credibly accused priests Philadelphia is the perfect example. Do taxpayers have to foot the bills for grand juries to be convened in every city and county in all 195 dioceses in the country in order for us to know if the Bishops are telling the truth? 

Archbishop’s Dolan’s statement is another ploy in the shellgame of the USCCB’s posturing which is full of sound and fury about sexual abuse but signifies nothing because the Bishops consciously continue to duck and dodge any discipline let alone bring pressure to bear on the removal of a hierarch who does not fulfill the Bishops’ role in zero tolerance. 

We ask Catholics to take due notice that there is no “fraternal correction” let alone announcement of contact with Pope Benedict for the removal of Cardinal Justin Rigali for failure to remove the 37 priests the Philadelphia Grand Jury report revealed who remained in ministry while Cardinal Rigali publicly pronounced that he had no priest who remained in ministry after credible allegations were made. 

We ask Catholics to dismiss this hogwash for what it is and keep a firm hold on their wallets as collection baskets are passed until their Bishops’ actions match their Bishops’ words. 

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization of in the pew Catholics formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while advocating for changes in public policy and laws to protect children.  

USCCB News Release, Dolan Statement: 

President of USCCB Reiterates Bishops’ Resolve to Deal Firmly with Clerics Who Abuse Childr 

Clerics who sexually abuse minors are forbidden from ministry 

Backs April Child Abuse Prevention Month for protection of children

Implementation of Charter to protect children must continue 

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2011)—Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reiterated the U.S. bishops’ resolve to deal firmly with clerics who abuse children in a March 22 statement. 

He highlighted and endorsed efforts by bishops, clergy and laity to implement the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was drafted by the bishops in 2002 to deal with the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by clerics. Archbishop Dolan said child abusers will not be tolerated in ministry.

“We remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense,” he said. 

The statement was developed during the USCCB Administrative Committee meeting in Washington. The Administrative Committee is the highest ranking body of bishops when the full body is not in session. It meets every September, March and November. 

The full statement follows. 

In light of the recent disclosures about the Church’s response to the sexual abuse of minors by priests, I have been asked by my brother bishops, gathered for the recent meeting of the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to offer reassurances that this painful issue continues to receive our careful attention, that the protection of our children and young people is of highest priority, and that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that we adopted in 2002 remains strongly in place. 

Over the past nine years, we have constantly reviewed the high promises and rigorous mandates of the Charter, as we continually try to make it even more effective. Thanks to the input of our National Review Board, Catholic parents, professionals, the victim-survivor community, law enforcement officials, and our diocesan victim-assistance coordinators, we keep refining the efficiency of the Charter. We want to learn from our mistakes and we welcome constructive criticism. In fact, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a long-planned review of the Charter scheduled for our June meeting. 

The arrival of April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, provides us the providential opportunity to unite with all Americans in a renewed resolve to halt the scourge of sexual abuse of youth in our society. 

We bishops recommit ourselves to the rigorous mandates of the Charter, and renew our confidence in its effectiveness. We repeat what we have said in the Charter: “We make our own the words of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II: that the sexual abuse of young people is by every standard wrong and rightly considered a crime by society; it is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God” (Address to the Cardinals of the United States and Conference Officers, April 23, 2002). We remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense. 

The annual outside audits by forensic experts will continue, checking that we remain faithful to the processes in place to protect our young people, promote healing of victims/survivors and restore trust. We also thank our diocesan review boards, and those who lead our extensive programs of child protection and background checks for all priests, deacons, teachers, youth workers and volunteers in our expansive apostolates to young people 

In short, the progress made must continue and cannot be derailed; we want to strengthen it even more; we can never stop working at it, because each child and young person must always be safe, loved and cherished in the Church. We are encouraged in this resolve by the words of Pope Benedict XVI to the bishops of the United States during his Apostolic Visit in 2008: “It is your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged. “ 

Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan 
Archbishop of New York 
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 
March 22, 2011 

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National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)  

Public Statement 

March 13, 2011 

It is unconscionable that Cardinal Justin Rigali has not addressed the 2003 Archdiocese of Philadelphia document barring the Archdiocese from releasing information to law enforcement regarding sexual abuse by its priests and employees unless subpoenaed. document 

It’s Cardinal Rigali who said at the Ash Wednesday Mass: —“Whoever harms a child must remember the words of Jesus: It would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” 

NSAC asks: how long is the Cardinal going to tread water? 

NSAC urges all Catholics in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania to use this Lent to take action with all men and women of goodwill to demand that the statute of limitations legislation introduced in Harrisburg last week be passed for the protection of children. 

( National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while advocating for changes in public policy and laws to protect children. ) 
  
Contact: Kristine Ward,  (NSAC) 937-272-0308/ 

  Mystery Document Appears In Priest Probe (video)

Friday, 11 Mar 2011,  (Myfoxphilly.com)

Philadelphia’s Smoking Gun

by Michael Sean Winters on Mar. 12, 2011 (ncronline.org)__________

 National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

 Protest Installation of Christopher Coyne as Auxiliary Bishop

March 2, 2011 

Contact: Ginny Hoehne 937-726-9360/ 
                 Kristine Ward 937-272-0308/  

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) joins the protest in Indianapolis, Indiana today to register its outrage that the Roman Catholic Church could not find one priest out 40,000 in the United States to name as an auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis other than one who was the mouthpiece for Cardinal Bernard Law in the red hot media heat of the sex abuse scandal in 2002 in Boston. 

Christopher Coyne’s appointment as auxiliary bishop of Indianapolis is clearly a reward for his service to Cardinal Law during the glare of media exposure of the sexual abuse scandal in 2002. 

This is not leadership. This is cronyism. 

You don’t have to look far to connect the dots on this appointment. Cardinal Law is still a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops through which bishop appointments are vetted and one of the three co-consecrators at today’s ceremony is a former auxiliary bishop of Cardinal Law’s, Richard Lennon, another reward, who is now Bishop of Cleveland. 

For all the toothless “sorrys” that have been voiced by Catholic officials over the scandal, the continued appointment of those who towed the line and lined up with the cover-up speaks volumes: actions speaker louder than words. 

No matter how many “sorrys” get said, no matter how many brief meetings with survivors are held, no matter how many times the Church seeks to frame the scandal as “history”, the truth is the scandal continues and the Church is rubbing salt into survivors raw wounds with this appointment. 

We join the ranks of the silent and the marginalized who stand outside St. John the Evangelist Church, Indianapolis today. We stand with them in solidarity for it is through their courage as survivors and family members of survivors and advocates for survivors that the truth is brought forth no matter how difficult it may be to face. 

We urge Catholics for their sakes and the sake of the Church to drop the blindfolds, get educated, and refuse to be duped by appointments and ceremonies that use the Church’s ancient liturgies and mysteries to reward those who have towed the line with a leg up on the ladder of hierarchy. Catholics can begin by reading the recently released Philadelphia Grand Jury Report http://www.bishop-accountability.org/pa_philadelphia/Philly_GJ_report.htm

Think Philadelphia is not Indianapolis? Think again.

To our fellow Catholics, we say, when the bells of St. John the Evangelist Church begin to ring today to mark a lavish ceremony for a man who did Cardinal Law’s bidding and is now rewarded with a place of high honor ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

( The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while advocating for changes in public policy and laws to protect children. )

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

____________

Press Release  

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 

Victim who is SNAP Minnesota State Leader and NSAC Co-founder to speak to National Guard 

Man molested by cleric to discuss sexual violence 

The Minnesota head of a Chicago-based international support group and a co-founder of a national victims advocacy group will speak Thursday to members of the Minnesota National Guard about male on male sexual violence.  

Bob Schwiderski of the self-help organization SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), and National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) has been asked to assist the Minnesota National Guard by speaking about male-on-male sexual trauma with the officials and members of the Victim Advocate program of the Minnesota Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPR). The event is tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:45 PM. at the 133rd Airlift Wing, 631 Minuteman Dr. St. Paul, MN. 

The purpose of the Minnesota National Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPR) is to reinforce the commitment of the Department of Defense in eliminating incidents of sexual assault within the military through a comprehensive policy that centers on awareness, prevention, training, education, and victim advocacy for not only Service Members, but their families as well.  

Schwiderski, an Army veteran, has been asked to share his perspectives on “coming forward” to report abuse, fears, shame and confusions males experience from sexual assaults, and other dynamics and issues of comprised “masculinity.”  

 “Bob is a hero to many victims in Minnesota and elsewhere who have, over the years, reached out to him in times of real suffering and found a big heart, sympathetic ears, warm comfort and sound guidance,” said David Clohessy, director of SNAP. “We’re grateful to the Minnesota National Guard for giving him this opportunity and are convinced his experience and insight will be helpful to Guard members.”  

“If kids are to be safer, those who suffered sex crimes must speak up like Bob has and does,” said Barbara Blaine, SNAP’s president. “When victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers stay silent, nothing changes and kids get assaulted. But when victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers speak up, at least there’s a chance for prevention, healing, and justice.  

“The Minnesota National Guard deserves great credit for being proactive in education regarding sexual abuse and the Guard is fortunate in its choice of Bob Schwiderski for its education. Bob will provide lived experience that cannot help but touch both the intellects and hearts of the Guard members. Bob is a determined, hard working vigilant and compassionate sentinel in the fight to keep children and all innocents safe.”  said Kristine Ward, chair of NSAC. 

Schwiderski was invited to present to the group by SMSgt Kelly J. Wilkinson, Minnesota National Guard, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, 651-282-4078/  

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org) 

(The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is an organization formed to educate the public on sexual abuse and support survivors of sexual abuse and their families while advocating for changes in public policy and laws to protect children. Our blog is nationalsurvivoradvocatescoalition.wordpress.com) 

Contact: Bob Schwiderski  952-471-3422/  skibrs@q.com,  David Clohessy  314-566-9790/ SNAPclohessy@aol.com,  Barbara Dorris  314-862-7688/  SNAPdorris@gmail.com,  Kristine Ward  937-272-0308/  KristineWard@hotmail.com,

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This image shows the newly revealed 1984 & 1997 letters from Vatican officials, warning Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police. ( The “Smoking Gun” letters CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE, click again to fill your screen ) 

Contact: Kristine Ward,  National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) 937-272-0308/

October, 2010

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Congratulates Author

       Jason Berry

  Recipient of Hartford’s Trinity College Moses Berkman Award

The Moses Berkman Memorial Journalism Award recognizes journalists whose work demonstrates the qualities of integrity, insight, journalistic excellence, and serious moral purpose that were the hallmark of Moses Berkman’s journalism. The biennial Award is supported by The Moses and Florence Berkman Endowed Fund at Trinity College, in honor of the late Moses Berkman, Class of 1920. Moses Berkman was an outstanding journalist who served the Hartford Times as a political correspondent, columnist, and editorial writer from the early 1920s until his death in 1956.

Jason Berry will receive this distinguished award on Wednesday, October 6 at Trinity College. The award is being given in recognition of his exceptional career as a journalist and author.

An expert on jazz and the civil rights movement, he has for more than a quarter century done more than any other journalist to investigate and explain the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Mr. Berry achieved prominence for his reporting on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church during the 1980s, and especially with his 1992 book Lead Us Not Into Temptation, which is still used in many newsrooms. His other books include Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II (co-written with Gerald Renner), and Amazing Grace: With Charles Evers in Mississippi.

In 1997, his articles for the Hartford Courant (co-authored with the late Courant religion writer Gerald Renner) broke the story of the sexual abuse of seminarians by Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Berry received a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship for research on jazz funerals, and the Saint Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award by Voice of the Faithful, the national Catholic reform organization.

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NSAC ANNOUNCES SUPPORT of IRISH SUNDAY MASS BOYCOTT

September 26, 2010

Contact: Kristine Ward, http://www.nsacoalition.org, 937-272-0308/  KristineWard@hotmail.com

The United States based National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) supports the Sunday, September 26 Mass boycott in Ireland and calls upon Catholics in the United States and around the world to boycott in solidarity.
 
NSAC takes this action because the boycott is rooted in a response to the sexual abuse scandal and justice for women.
 
The coalition does not take this action because we do not understand the value of the Mass or the Sunday obligation. We do.
 
The Irish boycott was called by Jennifer Sleeman, an 80 year old Irish woman in Clonakilty, Cork, who is the mother of a monk and 54 years a convert to Catholicism. Her call to action came after the release of the Murphy and Ryan reports in Ireland through which horrible revelations of abuse of children came to light along with the protection of abusers by bishops and religious superiors.
 
NSAC’s founders know that there is aversion by Catholics in the pew to raise their heads above the water line to take any visible actions against priests and bishops even when the cause is just and right. 
 
We don’t understand this aversion but we acknowledge its exists. We also know the weight of it contributes to continued suffering by the survivors and buttresses a hierarchy’s deflection of responsibility. Sexual abuse is a crime. There has never been an hour, a day or a year when it was right for the innocent and vulnerable to be raped and sodomized.
 
No one should know this better than Bishops, the Pope and the Vatican Curia. Yet it has taken massive news coverage on three continents and investigations by two civil governments to provoke even the weakest of responses from the Church. To add insult to injury the weak response is touted as major reform.
 
Pope Benedict XVI has more than 20 years of experience in seeing the very reports of sexual abuse that the  people of Ireland and the rest of the world have come to know in the news media revelations. His knowledge comes both from being the Archbishop of Munich and heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is against this backdrop that the boycott is called.
 
This Sunday presents an opportunity for Catholics in a quiet, private absence from their pew in their Catholic parish to open a slit for the piercing of the darkness. No rabble rousing is needed only silence.  
 
By standing in solidarity with the Irish boycott we hope for its success that in the emptiness Wisdom may enter in.
 
We encourage our readers, women and men, to re-arrange this week’s usual encounter with the Lord at Mass to leave a visible openness in their usual pew in their usual parish.
 
Out of the void, God created. 
 
—-Kristine Ward, NSAC Chair 
 
 NSAC is a volunteer organization of practicing Catholics and men and women of goodwill working to educate and reform the Church and society about sexual abuse and its consequences. NSAC sent an envoy to the United Kingdom to bear witness to the need for justice and reparation for the survivors during Pope Benedict’s UK trip and to search for advocates.  NSAC envoys have also gone to Munich and Ireland to support survivors and search for advocates.
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NSAC PRESS STATEMENT

       [date]

Contact: Mike Coode, 615-364-2334/  United Kingdom  mikeintn@bellsouth.net,  Kristine Ward, 937-272-0308/  United States   KristineWard@hotmail.com,

NSAC: APOLOGIES and MEETINGS WITH SURVIVORS ARE ONLY AS GOOD as WHAT FOLLOWS THEM

IS THIS LATEST PAPAL APOLOGY MADE of the STEEL of RIGHT or the BREAD and CIRCUSES APPROACH?

EXPRESSING SORROW WITHOUT FIXING THE PROBLEM IS AN ABDICATION OF LEADERSHIP and RESPONSIBILITY 

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) urges the Catholics of the United Kingdom to view Pope Benedict’s apology to sexual abuse survivors using their faith as the measure of what is right and good not their excitement at a religious celebrity in their midst.

It’s always a heady experience when a celebrity hits town and one with enough clout to have traffic re-routed and get on the Queen’s schedule boosts the excitement quotient.

But an apology is only as good as what follows it. Everyone knows from their own life experience that apologies can be flimsy as ash or strong as  steel, and can spring from enlightened self interest or be birthed from a firm purpose of amendment. Is this one forged in the steel of right or is it a polite bread and circuses nod to crowd expectation?

The Pope’s expression of sorrow without any comment on fixing the problem and  resolving the crisis is an abdication of leadership and responsibility.

From experience we see that what follows papal apologies is a slight tinkering of  archaic Vatican rules.

Pope Benedict has the power to break this pattern and use one of the last beauties of the papacy, the absoluteness of monarchy and its ability to change course in a single stroke of the pen for the cause of justice and reparation for the survivors.

The non resolution of the sexual abuse crisis undermines the moral authority the Pope calls upon to upbraid civil government leaders for neglecting to use the highest values of Christianity as tools in tackling the global financial crisis. He is lucky those in the trenches who were seated before him withheld the throwing of tomatoes, literally or figuratively at a leader so crippled by the crisis of crime in his institution

There is plenty of planning time for a papal visit. Pope Benedict’s words of apology were not written last night nor was the decision made yesterday that no action would be included within the words. Once again, the words look to the past.

What Catholics need to keep in mind is Pope Benedict didn’t just learn about the sexual abuse crisis from reading the newspapers and watching the news. He headed the Vatican office for 20 plus years where firsthand knowledge arrived and was kept secret and in most cases flat out buried. Before that, he headed the Diocese of Munich where there are documented abuse cases.

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. It didn’t take massive movements of legions of Roman heralds up and down the Empire of Rome’s roads crying out about injustice before the Lord drove out demons, called out the hypocrites, taught his followers by His example about the need for justice and the protection of the innocent and vulnerable.  

The Lord didn’t dodge or deflect or put off until His next trip or the next wave of news coverage the words and deeds His people needed.

The question is simple: What will be Catholics – a sleepy content in the nice papal words or the hard work of justice and reparation? Will you advocate for the survivors or must they alone carry the burden?

 — Kristine Ward, Chair, NSAC

 NSAC is a volunteer organization of practicing Catholics and men and women of goodwill working to educate and reform the Church and society about sexual abuse and its consequences. NSAC sent an evoy, Mike Coode, to the United Kingdom to bear witness to the need for justice and reparation for the survivors during Pope Benedict’s UK trip and to search for advocates.

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NSAC MEDIA STATEMENT

       [date]

NSAC to POPE BENEDICT: WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK NOW?

Contact:  Mike Coode, 615-364-2334/  mikeintn@bellsouth.net, United Kingdom;  Kristine Ward,   KristineWard@hotmail.com, United States

 NSAC is a volunteer organization of practicing Catholics and men and women of goodwill working to educate and reform the Church and society about sexual abuse and its consequences. 

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) responded to Pope Benedict’s statement that the “we weren’t fast enough” on the sexual abuse crisis with a pointed question, “What’s holding you back now?”

The US based survivor advocacy group said in a statement today,” What we are seeing as this papal trip begins is a dance. It’s the two step. First, there is massive news coverage making public what the Church already knew followed by a statement that has a ring of addressing the matter but is toothless.

Should the institution that lays claim to being the moral voice on the planet get away with a deflective “we weren’t quick enough?”

The Church has laryngitis in its moral voice. Until the sexual abuse crisis is handled correctly the Pope’s voice and with it all of the Catholic voice is muted on all moral questions. And in a time when the world calls out for a strong moral backbone, it’s unconscionable.”

NSAC calls on all thinking Catholics to stand up for the survivors. Join us in working for justice and reparation for the survivors.

NSAC sent an envoy, Mike Coode, one of its founders, to the United Kingdom for the papal trip to bear witness to the cause of justice and reparation and to search for advocates.

Pope on crisis: ‘We weren’t fast enough’

by John L Allen Jr on Sep. 16, 2010

 

Printer-friendly version Send to friend PDF version LONDON — In the old days, the normal Vatican pattern was that the pope would say or do something controversial, and then his aides would try to calm the waters. It’s a measure of how out of sorts the Vatican’s communications enterprise has been that these days, things seem to work exactly the other way around.

The pattern of the pope cleaning up a mess created by other top church officials was first glimpsed in Portugal, after senior Vatican personnel had publicly compared criticism of the pope to anti-Semitism and “petty gossip.” Benedict XVI changed the tone by insisting, in comments to reporters aboard the papal plane, that the real problem was not outside attacks but sin inside the church.

That papal course correction continued on day one of his four-day trip to the United Kingdom, which got off to an inauspicious start as British papers played up a comment by German Cardinal Walter Kasper, recently retired as the Vatican’s top ecumenical official, that landing at Heathrow Airport, one has the sense of arriving in a “third world country.”

Kasper, who is not on the U.K. trip due to illness, also complained that an “aggressive atheism” is speaking in Britain.

That might have been the dominant day one story, had it not been for Pope Benedict XVI’s comments aboard the papal plane on the sexual abuse crisis. The pontiff candidly acknowledged that the church was “not sufficiently vigilant and not sufficiently quick and decisive to take the necessary measures” to combat the crisis.
Benedict said that the victims are the church’s top priority, and that abuser priests must never have access to children because they have a disease that “good will” cannot cure.

Though the U.K. itself has not been hit especially hard by the sexual abuse scandals that have marred the church elsewhere, Benedict’s trip coincides with a mushrooming scandal in Belgium which began when a bishop was forced to resign after acknowledging abuse stretching over years against his own nephew. A church-sponsored commission recently delivered a report documenting a pattern of abuse affecting every diocese in the country.

Though the Vatican has yet to offer an official confirmation, Benedict is expected to meet victims while in the U.K. If so, it would be his fifth such encounter, with the first coming during an April 2008 trip to the United States.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, the main victims’ advocacy group in the United States, swiftly rejected Benedict’s comments as dishonest.

“It’s disingenuous to say church officials have been slow and insufficiently vigilant in dealing with clergy sex crimes and cover ups,” a ststement from the group said. “On the contrary, they’ve been prompt and vigilant, but in concealing, not preventing, these horrors.”

In the first major event on his itinerary, Pope Benedict met Queen Elizabeth II this morning at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he echoed Kasper’s complain about aggressive atheism in slightly more delicate fashion.

The pope called on the U.K. to defend “those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate.”

“Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms,” Benedict said.

In his comments to journalists, Benedict said that the U.K. has a long tradition of anti-Catholicism, but that it also has a “great history of tolerance.”

Addressing the Queen, Benedict praised the humanitarian contributions of the U.K. throughout history, including its role in combating the slave trade and the legacy of Florence Nightingale in serving the sick.
“Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live,” the pope said.

Benedict also praised the Northern Ireland peace agreement, which has calmed centuries of tensions between Catholics and Protestants.

The pope also seemed to gently chide the British media, known around the world for hard-hitting, but also occasionally sensationalist, coverage of current events.

“Because their opinions reach such a wide audience, the British media have a graver responsibility than most and a greater opportunity to promote the peace of nations, the integral development of peoples and the spread of authentic human rights,” the pope said.

Benedict’s Sept. 16-19 visit to the United Kingdom is an official state visit, unlike John Paul’s 1982 journey which was billed as exclusively “pastoral.” One clear sign of official welcome for the pontiff are the juxtaposed papal flags and Union Jacks which today line London’s Mall, the broad thoroughfare leading to Buckingham Palace.

After celebrating a Mass in Glasgow, Benedict arrives in London tonight. Tomorrow he’s scheduled to hold a session with leaders of Catholic education and then meet the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in an effort to advance relations with the Anglican Communion. Those ties were strained earlier this year when Benedict XVI created new structures to welcome Anglican converts, a move some Anglican leaders described as “poaching” and exacerbating instability inside Anglicanism.

Benedict will also deliver a widely anticipated address to English society in Westminster Hall. While there, he’ll stand in the spot where St. Thomas More was condemned to death five centuries ago.

Finally, Benedict will lead an ecumenical service tomorrow evening in Westminster Abbey.
[John L. Allen, Jr. is NCR senior correspondent.]
John Allen will be filing reports throughout the Papal visit to the U.K. Sept. 16-19. 

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NSAC MEDIA STATEMENT 

       [date]

Contact Information:  Mike Coode, 615-364-2334/, mikeintn@bellsouth.net, United Kingdom;  Kristine Ward, KristineWard@hotmail.com, United States

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), a United States based survivor advocacy group, sounded a warning today to United Kingdom Catholics against being swayed by any meeting Pope Benedict holds with victims during his September 16-September 19 trip.

The hallmark of these meetings is short: short on time, short sighted, short in accomplishment.

NSAC urges Catholics in the UK to look for genuine steps to fix a massive problem, not a sleight of hand aimed at a quick news story to give the impression of attention.

The pope’s meetings with survivors are built on the foundation of keeping survivors off guard. 

In these staged events a survivor is in the presence of the pope, a major world figure, for a very few minutes in a controlled atmosphere designed to intimidate not elucidate.

These staged events are for the benefit of the Pope not the survivors.

We urge Catholics and all men and women of goodwill in the United Kingdom to commit to justice for the survivors.

It is the right thing to do. But it’s not short and sweet. It’s a commitment to truth, the protection of children, and reparation for the survivors.

NSAC’s envoy, Michael Coode, is in the UK this week to search for Catholics willing to commit to the cause of justice.    http://www.nsacoalition.org

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MEDIA RELEASE

       [date]

National Survivor Advocates Coalition Takes Scottish Cardinal to Task

US Based Advocacy Group Says Cardinal Must Be Challenged on “Volume of abuse in Scotland is Less” Approach

NSAC Asks: Where is the Cardinal’s Action?

Contact Information:   
Michael Coode, 615-364-2334/   mikeintn@bellsouth.net, United Kingdom
Kristine Ward 937-272-0308/   KristineWard@hotmail.com,  United States

It is pitiful that Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien on the eve of the Pope’s visit to Scotland is pedaling an approach designed to lull Catholilcs into thinking that saying ”sorry” is all that is needed as a response to the sexual abuse scandal.
 
What’s more the Cardinal is promoting a pat on the back for Scotland saying that the volume of abuse in Scotland is less than in other countries.
 
What number of young lives harmed and scarred by the horror of sexual abuse by priests and nuns would be the tipping point for the Cardinal?
 
When will the Cardinal take action to sincerely seek out the survivors of sexual abuse by priests and nuns in Scotland? When will he go to the parishes of Scotland and search for the survivors? When will he post the names of perpetrators on his diocesan website?
 
NSAC has sent an envoy. Michael Coode one of NSAC’s founders, to the United Kingdom this week to search for survivors advocates. 
 
NSAC is seeking Catholics who will commit to the fight for justice.

 
                          Cardinal Says Pope Did All He Could After Sex Abuse Scandal
 
By Christine Lavelle
SCOTLAND’S most senior Catholic says the Pope’s visit to the UK will be tainted by the ‘church cover-up’ child sex-abuse scandal.
 
Speaking ahead of the Papal visit later this week, Cardinal Keith O’Brien said he believes Pope Benedict XVI handled the scandal in the only way he could – by saying sorry.
 
It has been reported in the past that the Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests.
In 2001, while he was a Cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety.
 
And, more recently, the Catholic Church has been rocked by fresh allegations from a Belgian commission looking into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, which says it has received testimony from hundreds of victims.
The commission’s chairman Peter Adriaenssens said 488 witnesses came forward, most of them after the April resignation of a bishop for sexual abuse – which has set off a deep crisis within the Belgian church.
 
Cardinal O’Brien said he does not know if His Holiness will address the issue when he visits Scotland on Thursday, but if he does it will be to re-iterate his sincerest apology.
 
He said: “If he were to address it, it will be to reinforce how sorry he is for what has happened, but the volume of these crimes in Scotland is much less than in other countries.
 
“I think it will have some sort of effect on the visit, people will be thinking about the negative publicity.
 
“But we have got to work together now and combat the wrongs that have been done, and we must look to Pope Benedict as our leader in that.
 
“He has had to do that more than any other Pope – he is the only one to ever stand up and say ‘I’m sorry’ – and he has done it on behalf of his church leaders and members, and Bishops.
 
“The Catholic Church no longer tries to stand up on a pedestal – we have admitted our wrong doings, as well as making sure we safeguard for the future and make sure it never happens again.
 
“The way Pope Benedict handled it is the only way he could, he did not stand aloof, or hide behind his Cardinals, and he acted as a leader and came out with a sincere apology.”
 
Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive at Edinburgh Airport on Thursday morning, before meeting the Queen and leading a parade down the city’s Princes Street.
 
From there he will make his way to Glasgow to hold an open-air Mass ceremony, with a crowd of up to 100,000 people expected.
 
Cardinal O’Brien added that during a series of recent trips around Scotland, the issue surrounding the scandal has barely been mentioned.
 
He said: “While it obviously will have an effect, no I don’t think it will overshadow the greater meaning of the visit – to unite people in their faith
and to bring people of all faiths together.
 
“Going round Scotland over the past few weeks, no one has really mentioned it to me – anyone I speak to is excited and looking forward to such an important event, not only for Roman Catholics but for the whole of Scotland.
 
“All I can say is yes we did get it wrong in the past, but we must now make sure it never ever happens again.”

  __________

Media Statement     

       [Date ]

NOBLE and COURAGEOUS SURVIVORS,

THOSE KNOWN and UNKNOWN to US,

ON THIS DAY, WE OFFER YOU OUR HEARTFELT CONCERN and SOLIDARITY

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) extends its heartfelt concern to the survivors of clergy and nun sexual abuse today in profound recognition of the severity and callousness of the blow dealt to them by Pope Benedict’s refusal to accept the resignations of two Archdiocese of Dublin auxiliary Bishops named in the Murphy Report.

With intention, we do not limit our care and concern for the survivors of sexual abuse in Ireland. We extend it to all survivors and victims of sexual abuse and their families.

Especially on this day, we offer you our solidarity.

We know and quake at the thought of this unneeded, unnecessary and thoroughly preventable opening of the door to an unadorned staging ground for the potential of horrific flashbacks for those who endured rape and sodomy and ritual abuse by Roman Catholic priests and nuns.

We know that this stinging rebuke has the potential to unmercifully rip open deep wounds that riddle psyches and tip into darkness spirits that precariously live each day in uneasy battle with demons of despair.

We honor the very breaths that the survivors and victims take on this day.

Pope Benedict has the power as the ultimate authority in his Church to refuse to allow the horror of sexual abuse to go on for one hour more in his Church.

Instead he chose to flash the brightest of green lights to Bishops who cover up the crimes of sexual abuse by priests and nuns.

To say the least, this refusal of the resignations by Pope Benedict torpedoes his June promise at the end of the Year for Priests that “everything possible” would be done to end the crisis.

We have come to a watershed moment in the history of the crisis.

We have now moved into the era of the big wink.

We have a Pope who makes grand proclamations in St. Peter’s Square and then retreats to his Summer palace where eight months after they are tendered resignations that are part of the largest crisis in 500 years in the Church are turned down — and the very act of turning them down is deemed unworthy of papal words, let alone papal appearance.  

The harsh slap of the refusal of the resignations carries its own sting but the cowardice of the Pope to allow the action to be revealed in the studied backhanded manner it was sinks to a new and dangerous low in the papacy’s dealing with this massive crisis.

Pope Benedict did not stand among the people of Ireland nor proclaim from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica that he would not accept the resignation of Bishops.

No, he allowed the refusal of the resignations to be revealed in the 17thparagraph of a 20 paragraph letter written by Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the celebration of the Sacraments in the parishes of the archdiocese.

The resignations that have been refusal are those of  Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field.

It is these two Bishops who declared jointly last Christmas Eve that they had in that special evening of the year  they had “ informed Archbishop Diarmuid Martin that we are offering our resignation to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, as Auxiliary Bishops to the Archbishop of Dublin.

The two Bishops said, “As we celebrate the Feast of Christmas, the Birth of our Saviour, the Prince of Peace, it is our hope that our action may help to bring the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ to the victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. We again apologise to them. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have so bravely spoken out and those who continue to suffer in silence.“ 

What of these men now that their resignations have been refused?

Is the hope of  ”the peace and reconciliation of Jesus Christ” to be rolled up like a dirty rug and cast off as though it was an embarrassment to offer their resignations in its name? 

These two men need not look far for an example of courage to refuse the Pope’s refusal.

They need only look into the eyes of the hundreds upon hundreds of survivors and victims who bear the searing wounds inflicted by sexual abuse.

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

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     Aug 5th, 2010

An Interview with National Survivor Advocates Coalition founding member Stephen Sheehan

   by Dr. Jaime Romo    Healing and Spirituality

Stephen Sheehan is a founding member of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition and Publisher/Editor of NSAC News. He spoke to me from the recent Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests conference…………….. 

Plus information and linkage to Dr. Romo’s new book:

Healing the Sexually Abused Heart:   A Workbook for Survivors, Thrivers and Supporters

   __________

 PRESS RELEASE 

       Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Three US based groups ask high-ranking Catholic official to step aside

Ex-Boston Cardinal Bernard Law will say prominent mass on Aug. 5

        A powerful and controversial Catholic official is set to lead a special, high-profile mass on Thursday in Rome and three US-based groups that focus on the church’s sex scandal are objecting.

Cardinal Bernard Law, who once headed the Boston Archdiocese, will preside over ceremonies at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on August 5. The event has been described in the Boston Globe as “rich in pomp,” marking “the hot August night in 358 when, according to tradition, snow fell on the site that became home to the church.”

The Dayton Ohio-based National Survivors Advocates Coalition, the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and the Waltham MA-based BishopAccountability.org are urging Pope Benedict to prevent Law’s involvement in the mass or Law himself to step aside.

       Statement by Kristine Ward of NSAC   937-272-0308/    

    –   We find Law’s leading role in the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows celebration at Mary Major Basilica, Rome, (August 5) exemplary of heaping insult upon injury for survivors, their families and Catholics who are appalled at the largest crisis in the Church’s history in a half a millennia.

The Basilica’s celebration includes the release of white flower petals from the church’s high ceilings in imitation of a snow fall that legend has it was a sign to a Roman patrician couple to donate their possessions for the building of a great church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

In the midst of massive revelations across Europe of growing numbers of sexual abuse victims, this display is a ‘bread and circuses’ approach to the crisis in the Church.

It smacks of feel good theater with none other than the heavy weight leader of the cover up of crimes in the United States in the lead role.

If Pope Benedict means what he says about doing “everything possible” to end the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church he should remove Cardinal Law on this feast from his positions of influence on eight major congregations in the Curia including and most especially his seat on the powerful Congregation for Bishops.

Pope Benedict can renew this feast by removing Cardinal Law from his position of prestige as Archpriest of one of the four major Basilicas in Rome.

This is a Church of sign and symbol. A powerful sign and symbol can be delivered by Pope Benedict in the removal of Cardinal Bernard Law.  

       Statement by Barbara Dorris of SNAP  314-503-0003/   SNAPdorris@gmail.com

    –   Normally, we push church officials to take practical steps to help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We’re less concerned with symbolic action that makes adults feel better and more concerned with tangible action that makes children be safer.

However, because Law has ignored, concealed and enabled so many clergy sex crimes, and because Benedict keeps posturing as a ‘reformer’ while doing so little to actually help, we feel compelled to speak out about the prominent role Law is continually given in top church affairs.

Giving more prominence and power to such a corrupt church official rubs salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of millions of Catholics and thousands of victims. It sends a strong signal that, despite promises to the contrary, little is changing when it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

Benedict can’t have his cake and eat it too. He can’t profess to care about victims while tolerating and promoting a cleric who ignored, concealed and enabled crimes against them.

     Statement by Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org  508-479-9304/ Mckiernan1@comcast.net

    –   We urge Pope Benedict XVI to remove Cardinal Bernard Law from his position as archpriest of Saint Mary Major Basilica and from his membership in seven Vatican congregations and the Pontifical Council for Culture. 

In the Maciel case, Benedict showed himself to be aware of the stakes and willing to act.  He must do so now in the case of Cardinal Law.  It is especially urgent that Benedict remove Law from the Congregation for Bishops.  Law has long used his Vatican influence to reward with bishoprics the men who participated shamefully in the cover-up of sexual abuse crimes, including Bishop John McCormack of Manchester NH, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre NY, Bishop now Emeritus Robert J. Banks of Green Bay WI, Bishop now Emeritus Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn NY, and Archbishop now Emeritus Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans LA. 

Law’s continued power in Rome and his ongoing involvement in the selection of new bishops are an insult to survivors and all Catholics.  Benedict must end the corruption and send Cardinal Law back to Boston, where his disgraceful performance as archbishop is well understood.

        All three groups want the Pope to oust him from all church committees, especially the one which helps select new bishops across the world.

Controversy first erupted about Law’s role in the annual August ceremonies in 2004. According to the Boston Globe, that year was the first time Law “(stepped) into the public eye in the most significant capacity since he left Boston 19 months ago.”

Law resigned as Boston’s archbishop Dec. 13, 2002. 

Basilica of Saint Mary Major
Via Liberiana, 27
Sacristy + 39 06 483195/

Parish Office – Via Carlo Alberto, 47 +39.06.4465836/
Reception – Via Liberiana, 27 +39.06.4814287/
Mass Times:  Sunday: 7-8-9-10-11-12-18  Monday-Saturday: 7-8-9-10-11,15-12-18

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PRESS RELEASE

July 16, 2010

NSAC to VATICAN and BISHOP CUPICH:

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY OKAY IF THE CHILD IS 14-18 YEARS of AGE?

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) responded to Bishop Blase Cupich’s comments on new Vatican regulations regarding the crime of child pornography and priests by asking if Bishop Cupich believes that “child pornography is a degradation of any child of God” why Pope Benedict and the Vatican have limited this section of the new norms to ” images of minors under the age of 14″ and the US Bishops haven’t objected?
 
Bishop Cupich is the chair of the US Bishops Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People. He is the Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota and the Bishop-designate of Spokane, Washington.
 
Because the pornography and priests issue was included in the Vatican document regarding extension of statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse by priests the impression is left that the Vatican is using the “under age 18″ description of a minor for the pornography and priests reference as it does in the statute of limitations extension section.
 
Neither the Vatican nor Bishop Cupich have chosen to emphasize the “under the age of 14″ description of a child in the pornography section letting the false impression stand.
 
It is yet another example of the disconnect between the hierarchy and the faithful. It is especially troubling because Bishop Cupich is the Chair of the US Bishops Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.
 
Ask any parent,  grandparent, aunt or uncle and they will tell you that a child is not an adult at the age of 13 (under the age of 14, Vatican norms).
 
       NSAC is a volunteer organization of practicing Catholics and men and women of goodwill working to educate and reform the Church and society about sexual abuse and its consequences. 

Contact: Kristine Ward, http://www.nsacoalition.org  

From USCCB Website www.usccb.org  7/15/10: Bishops Welcome Update of Vatican Norms on Sexual Abuse

WASHINGTON-Bishop Blase Cupich, bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, and bishop-designate of Spokane, Washington, and Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Protection of Children and Young People, welcomed the Vatican’s update of its 2001 norms dealing with clergy sexual abuse of minors in a July 15 statement. The new norms include the abuse of a mentally disabled adult and the downloading of child pornography in the same category as abusing a minor and also extend the Vatican’s statute of limitations for sexual abuse to 20 years after the victim turned 18.

The full text of Bishop Cupich’s statement follows:

The Vatican action is a welcome step forward as we deal with the terrible crime and sin of sexual abuse by a cleric. What we read today from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is heartening. The bishops in this country felt the support of the Holy See in 2002 with the establishment of the Essential Norms and we are strengthened even more as the measures outlined in this document build on and go beyond what has been particular law for the Church in the United States since then.  

The seriousness with which the church views sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric cannot be understated. By putting child sexual abuse by clergy in the same context as the safeguarding of the sacraments, the Church is making it clear that such misconduct violates the core values of our faith and worship.   

Today the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notes that the abuse of the mentally impaired, no matter what the person’s age, is horrific. Abuse of someone who cannot defend himself or herself is craven, cowardly behavior.

Welcome, too, is the recognition that the crime of child pornography damages not just those who pursue it, but any child degraded in the making of it. Child pornography is a degradation of   any child of God. A priest’s involvement with it is particularly offensive.  

The document makes law of measures that have already been in use by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to facilitate handling of cases brought to the Vatican. This is an important step in the continuing effort to achieve justice for innocent people whose trust in a cleric was violated.  

The adoption of these modifications to the original norms of the Apostolic Letter, The Safeguarding of the Sanctity of the Sacraments ( Sacramentorumsanctitatis tutela) issued in April 2001, furthers our strong resolve to do all that is possible to see that children are protected and safe, especially in the Church. We apologize to those who have been hurt in the past. We are doing everything possible to prevent such harm in the future.  

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  Press Statement   

July 15, 2010

NSAC APPALLED at VATICAN”S SHIRKING OF ITS DUTY in FAILING TO FILE UN REPORT on PROTECTING CHILDREN   

VATICAN HAS LARYNGITIS in ITS MORAL VOICE on A DAY IT TOUTS A PUNY POLICY CHANGE   

The Vatican is the only religion with the privilege of participating in the United Nation as a city state with a permanent observer.  

Today we learned that the Vatican is 13 years overdue in filing a required report as a signatory on the UN’s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a signer, the Vatican is required to submit regular reports on how it protects the rights of children.  

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)  is appalled at this dismissal of duty by the Vatican, an institution that has laid claim  to be the strongest moral voice on the planet.   

The Vatican has laryngitis in its moral voice and it is far from a cure when on a day it touts a puny extension of statute of limitations in its internal laws about sexual abuse  it is found out as more than a slacker when it comes to meeting its international commitments.    

If the Vatican needs more staff to get its work done, it could kill two birds with one stone: there are plenty of people unemployed in the United States, many within a subway’s ride of the UN headquarters.   

        NSAC is a volunteer organization of practicing Catholics and men and women of goodwill working to educate and reform the Church and society about sexual abuse and its consequences.   

 Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), 937-272-0308/c , 

                                      UN: Vatican child rights report 13 years overdue  

 http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iVXpIdqtwNCWrNHwSiMtY3LCMNxAD9GVICLO0  
 By FRANK JORDANS (AP) – 7/15/10  
GENEVA — The Vatican has failed to send the United Nations a report on child rights that is now almost 13 years overdue, the head of a U.N. panel has told The Associated Press.  
 
Like all countries that have signed the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Vatican is required to submit regular reports on its efforts to safeguard child rights.  
 
But the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, despite sending repeated reminders, has received no explanation from the Holy See for why it missed a 1997 deadline, according to the committee’s chairwoman Yanghee Lee………  Video of Vatican representative at U.N. Human Rights Council http://bit.ly/HolySee5pct  

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  Press Statement   

July 15, 2010 

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) responded to the Vatican’s release of new sexual abuse regulations with the following statement:  

The Vatican’s extension of the statute of limitations to 20 years is a small step when measured against the vastness of the chaos and harm that sexual abuse produces still, a person dying of thirst is grateful for a few drops of water. It must be said, any measure that will give hope and comfort to a survivor of sexual abuse, even a small one, is welcomed.   

That said, we sincerely hope that today’s Vatican document will turn on the fountain of compassionate care for victims of sexual abuse by priests and nuns but the document has a number of serious limitations, chief among them is its silence on action to place into Church law accountabilyt for the cover up by Bishops – once again allowing Bishops to get off scot free.   

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) calls upon the Catholic faithful and all men and women of good will not to overlook these items in the Vatican’s document:   

    ·         the Vatican’s distinction in the age of minors in two different sections of today’s document: when sexual abuse is referenced the ages of a minor is “below the age of  18” when  “pedophile pornography” is referenced, pornography is limited to ”pornographic images of minors under the age of 14“. 

    ·         the continued enforcement of the secrecy of trials for priests

It is important to remember that this small reform comes after massive news coverage on two continents and investigations by two civil governments, Ireland and Germany, in addition to a police raid in Belgium.  

If Pope Benedict were serious about reform he would remove Cardinal Bernard Law from his numerous positions of influence on Curia congregations followed by the removal of all Bishops who covered up criminal activity.

In addition, we strongly urge all Bishops conferences throughout the world not to hastily adopt the US Bishops Charter on the Protection of Children and Young People. It contains many weaknesses chief among them no mention or method of holding Bishops accountable.   

It is head shaking to say the least that today’s document which speaks to sexual abuse also includes defining the ordination of women as a crime. There is no comparison. Both do not belong in the same category. The Vatican knows the confusion that placing both together in a document will cause. This is an attempt on the Vatican’s part to deflect attention from the minimum steps it has taken today on sexual abuse.

Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), 937-272-0308/ 

   __________

Press Release  

        June 30,  2010   

NATIONAL SURVIVOR ADVOCATES COALITION (NSAC) CALLS ON  NEW HEAD OF VATICAN CONGREGATION for BISHOPS to REMOVE CARDINAL BERNARD LAW FROM THE CONGREGATION  

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), a US based organization, issued the following statement today in regard to Pope Benedict’s appointment of Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec Canada as the new head of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.    

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) strongly urges Cardinal Marc Ouellet in his new position as head of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops to quickly remove Cardinal Bernard Law as a member of the Congregation.   

NSAC urges Cardinal Ouellet  to take this step as an act of conviction and outward sign of desire for credibility in the Church and among Bishops.  

Beginnings mark opportunities for endings. The beginning of Cardinal Ouellet’s tenure at the top of this powerful Congregation with far reaching consequences throughout the Church provides a clear opportunity to begin to take serious action to end the crisis. He can chose to set this Congregation on a new path and send the message that business as usual has ended and Bishops will not continue to be made in the image and likeness of Cardinal Bernard Law nor any other hierarch who participated in or covered up criminal acts against children.     

 Contact: Kristine Ward, 937-272-0308/   www.nsacoalition.org

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July, 2010

James Jenkins, Op-Ed

NATIONAL SURVIVOR ADVOCATES COALITION NEWS

July 8, 2010               Vol. 2, No. 117

        Op-Ed

This section of NSAC News is designed to permit Survivor Advocates to express their opinions and ideas relevant to the subject matter of this newsletter. Your participation is invited and encouraged. Letters to the Editor addressing a particular article should be sent to the Editor of the publication. in which the article originally appeared. This Op-Ed section provides a forum for our readers to express their independent views.

In response to Nicholas Cafardi’s comments carried on dotCommonweal:

   http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=8980

James A. Jenkins, Ph.D.  PSY 17650,   Advisory Board Member, NSACoalition.   jjenkinsphd@earthlink.net  w/510.559.9963  

             Nicholas Cafardi gives a very lawyerly account of how it all went terribly wrong legally (canonically speaking) for the Vatican in its handling of the priests sex abuse scandal.

You get the impression that if only those fumbling career politicians in the Vatican had followed their own canon law, things could have been different.

I have a decidedly less sanguine view of the Vatican’s management approach and its use of canon law to insulate itself from taking the only morally defensible response to the rape and sodomy of children.

Despite what Cafardi claims, the debate among and between the Vatican curia and American bishops about the statute of limitations in canon law regarding the sexual abuse of children by priests was still going on in 2002.

I know this is so because [now Cardinal] William Levada told me so after his return from Rome from consultations at the Inquisition (now the CDF) where then Cardinal Ratzinger was still running the show.

The San Francisco Review Board, of which I was then the chair, specifically requested that Levada convey to the curia our great distress over the possibility that the statute of limitations that would govern our investigations be anything but the American legal standard.

Our fear was, I believe justifiably, the public would never understand and further undercut any credibility of review board investigations.

There was also pushback from the Inquisition about what would constitute majority age for males and females, the canonical or the American legal standard.  The Review Board was equally adamant about using the accepted American standard of 18 years of age.

These were not insignificant points of contention. If the canonical standards were used (which Cafardi confirms were still being debated within Vatican circles), this would have meant effectively that most allegations of sexual abuse against priests were mute (as far as canon law were concerned), and never would warrant any further investigation by the church’s review boards across the US.

Levada reported to us on the SF Review Board that it was the opinion of the Inquisition that canon law should always supersede American law.

Ratzinger and his allies in the curia were maneuvering to render all of the investigations of the Review Boards worthless before they even got started.  Little did we then know that the hierarchy never had any intention of ever conducting independent and unvarnished investigations of sexual abuse by priests.

One of the architects of the so-called “Dallas Charter,” the Rev. Gregory Ingels, [canon lawyer and former SF chancellor for Levada] himself eventually indicted by a Marin County grand jury for the rape and sodomy of adolescents, predicted to me personally that canonical charges against him would never stand because of the prescriptions in canon law regarding statute of limitations and the majority age of males and females.

My recollection of Levada’s report of his consultations at the Inquisition was that the curia was not too pleased with the “zero tolerance” approach either adopted by American bishops at their Dallas meetings.

Face it, with Ratzinger running the show at the Inquisition, and now as pope, there was never any intention to deal forthrightly with the abuse scandal on the part of the Vatican hierarchy.

The Vatican hierarchs were engaged in a calculated strategy of delay and dissemination in hopes that they could eventually survive the tidal wave of scandal that has swamped their leadership.

How’s that working out for them?

I’m glad that Cafardi thinks that “Vatican canonists” have “a lot of explaining to do.”  But, isn’t that what “Ricky Ricardo” used to say on the old “I Love Lucy Show” after one of Lucy’s comic stunts exploded in her face.

The problem, of course, is that the rape and sodomy of children by priests and bishops never has, and never will be, comical.

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May, 2010

Press Release

      May 5, 2010

Watch Pope’s Words Very Carefully

Pope tells bishops that they “should report abuse crimes to police, where civil laws require it.”

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) raises alarm warnings about the very specific choice of words by Benedict XVI

NSAC calls on pope to require ALL cases of sexual abuse of children to be reported to local and state authorities, even if civil laws don’t “require it.”

Asks pope to remove and sanction all bishops who cover up abuse

With its experience across the United States and having witnessed the splitting of hairs of local laws and successes at pushing cases outside statutes of limitation by local bishops, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is increasingly concerned about the very specific words used by Pope Benedict.

The pope called on all bishops to report abuse where they are “required” to report abuse to local authorities. We implore the pope to demand that all bishops report all abuse to local and state authorities.

Our experience is highlighted by one example in the state of Maine in the United Statess. The bishop appointed an unlicensed counselor as the Victims’ Outreach Coordinator. After meeting with this counselor, advocates became aware of the unlicensed status and recognized that neither the coordinator, nor the chancellor, nor the diocesan investigator was required by state law to report abuse that they learned about in the course of their work for the bishop. Advocates quickly rallied state legislators to include the language of “church workers” in the statute for mandated reporters. Now all “church workers” are required to report.

NSAC fears that since bishops are well-trained at evading reporting of abuse and that not all local jurisdictions or states have updated their mandated reporter lists to include church workers and hence “not required to report.” Bishops will take advantage of the system all the while continuing their PR mandated mantra of “we are doing everything possible to protect children.”

Given NSAC’s familiarity with the tactics of bishops, we have also become alarmed at the number of ordained clergy working so closely with victims. First and foremost, we have learned that the ordained will use, lean on and hide behind their vow of obedience instead of acting in the interest of reporting abuse and saving children. Reporting is delayed or never takes place, priests escape and more children are raped and sodomized.

Contact: Kristine Ward, http://www.nsacoalition.org, kristineward@hotmail.com

Michael Sweatt, http://www.nsacoalition.org, mjsweatt@aol.com

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April, 2010

Press Release 

April 25, 2010

NSAC: If Credibility is the Goal, Cardinal Law Must Be Removed from Position of Naming Bishops

The United States based National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) said today that if the Vatican has changed its strategy in the sexual abuse crisis and is “moving to get rid of bishops tainted by the scandal” as indicated by news reports then Cardinal Bernard Law must be relieved of his position on the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

If credibility and accountability are truly what Pope Benedict is aiming for, Cardinal Law must be dislodged from all privileged positions not only his post as Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major but most importantly his place of considerable influence in the making of new bishops in his own likeness, the coalition said.

If Pope Benedict doesn’t remove Cardinal Law, we call upon Cardinal Law, in all justice after the Pope’s acceptance of the resignation of two Irish bishops named in the Murphy Report, to do the right thing and step aside, the coalition said.

Cardinal Law resigned as the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston during the white heat of the scandal in the United States in 2002 but he has been kept in a position of power and influence by the Vatican.

For Cardinal Law’s record on abuse, see the public documents on http://www.bishop-accountability.org

The coalition also noted “with sadness” that it has taken massive news reporting on several continents to move the Vatican spokesperson to say the time had come for “truth, transparency and credibility.”

“The Church has laryngitis in its moral voice. The only cure for it is the truth. The truth is in the documents. Piecemeal release of the documents only prolongs the crisis. Pope Benedicts should release all of the documents pertaining to sexual abuse by priests and nuns the Vatican is holding and order Bishops and religious congregations to release all of the documents in their files.

Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, http://www.nsacoalition.org
Steve Sheehan, NSAC Boston, sheehan1777@aol.com, Mike Sweatt, NSAC Maine, mjsweatt@aol.com

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Media Statement       

April 24th, 2010

 Pope Benedict: “Taking Action?” NSAC: Must Include Cover Up by Bishops

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) today urged Catholics and all men and women of goodwill not to confuse Pope Benedict’s statement at his Wednesday audience that he would take action in the sexual abuse scandal with action.

“The proof of action will be in whether Pope Benedict pursues justice that includes bishops and Vatican personnel who covered up the crimes of sexual abuse not pronouncements on removal of priests and nuns who abuse.”

“An institution with the depth of 2,000 years of history seeking to be the moral leader on the earth has to squarely face that the cover up of crimes is also a severe and festering wound in the Church and society.”

“With his Church being investigated by two governments, Ireland and Germany, Pope Benedict’s inch by inch approach to resolution of the crisis does leave a great deal to be desired.”

“Action is long overdue. The time for promising it should be long over.There was never a day or a year when it was right to abuse a child. For moral and spiritual leaders there should never have been the need for a learning curve on what to do about crimes. Pope Benedict is, after all, the ultimate authority in his Church. If he wants to take action what’s stopping him?” 

Contact: Kristine Ward, 937-272-0308/   Kristineward@hotmail.com,

__________

Media Statement

       April 18, 2010

Pursuing Cover Up Bishops Has to be Part of Justice, Otherwise We Have Relativism

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) said today that “Pope Benedict’s road to justice for survivors and victims of sexual abuse by priests and nuns must include dealing with the Bishops and Vatican officials who shielded priest abusers not just the abusers themselves.”

“An institution with the depth of 2,000 years of history seeking to be the moral leader on the earth has to squarely face that the cover up of crimes is also a severe and festering wound in the Church.

“Tears, yes, words, yes but solid and convincing action that is uniquely within the Pope’s purview is what is needed. Remove the bishops and Vatican hierarchy that covered up. Otherwise what we have is creeping relativism, the very thing Pope Benedict preached against on the eve of his election to the papacy five years ago.”

The Pope’s tears in his eyes at Malta should surely lead him to addressing the victims in his own country. For the German victims there has been absolute silence from him.”

Contact: Kristine Ward, Kristineward@hotmail.com, http://www.nsacoalition.com

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NSAC Press Statement

       April 16, 2010

NSAC: Penance Is Not Justice     –     Survivors Deserve Justice

Pope Benedict, in extemporaneous remarks in a homily April 15, spoke of the need for penance. The press referred to it as a “change in tone” regarding the sexual abuse crisis.  

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition is compelled to say what the survivors and victims deserve is justice. 

Penance can take its due course but justice delayed is justice denied.

Justice  will only be achieved when there is a stark facing up to the crisis, when truth is sought and found and acted upon. Veiled references to the crisis do not bring an end to it. Only justice will do that. The road to justice is through truth. 

Once again we call upon the Pope, all officials of the Vatican, and all bishops to release the documents on sexual abuse so that the truth may be known.  

Given the weight of the current crisis, Catholics may become  grateful for any shred of indication that Pope Benedict and the Vatican are moving to address the sexual abuse crisis particularly in light of Cardinal Bertone’s comments in Chile linking homosexuality to pedophilia,  Cardinal Sodano’s Easter Sunday speech describing the current news coverage of the crisis as “idle gossip” and the papal preacher’s Good Friday tying of criticism of the Pope with anti-Semitism.

We ask Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to remember that much much more than a slight change in tone is needed. To whom much is given, much is expected.

Contact: Kristine Ward, kristineward@hotmail.com,

WORLD   | April 16, 2010  In Shift of Tone on Abuse Cases, Pope Speaks of ‘Penance’
By RACHEL DONADIO
In his most direct reference to the sex abuse crisis, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on Thursday of the need for the faithful to do “penance.”

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Press Statement

       April 4, 2010

“petty gossip” not the true spirit of the Resurrection

Cardinal Sodano’s Speech is Shameful

Resurrecting the phrase “petty gossip” is far from the spirit of the Resurrection.

       It is shameful to use the Easter Mass at the Vatican to shore up the Pope and slander victims as purveyors of “petty gossip.”

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals who elected Pope Benedict, stood before the Mass in front of a captive audience and knowing he would have a worldwide audience to push an agenda intended to marginalize survivors, keep them shackled in silence, and denigrate the truth they have brought into the light.

Resurrecting the phrase “petty gossip” is far from the true spirit of the Resurrection.

Neither Cardinal Sodano nor the Pope uttered a word of compassion, hope, or light for the victims of sexual abuse by priests and nuns.

On a day whose very essence is transformation, it was busy as usual at the Vatican. Lord help us.

Resurrecting the phrase “petty gossip” is far from the spirit of the Resurrection.

_______

March, 2010

Media Statement    

       March 20, 2010

Papal Letter to Ireland: Stings

Pope’s letter “Puny Christianity and Blame Shifting” says NSAC

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC): Pope’s letter: Stings with a Puny Christianity and Blame Shifting.”

NSAC: “Read it and weep.”

NSAC Asks: “When was it ever right in any time, circumstance, educational setting –particularly Catholic Church schools– to abuse innocent and vulnerable? Why wouldn’t Pope, bishops, priests, nuns know this?

NSAC calls for re-routing of collection money in US and Ireland and Tax Revolt in Germany where tax money support Catholic Church

       The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) issued a response today to Pope Benedict’s pastoral to the people of Ireland saying simply and directly “ read it and weep.”

“The letter stings with a puny Christianity using holy language to deflect responsibility for the criminal acts of abusing children and the cover up of crimes, “ the coalition said.

“The people descendant of the great St. Patrick, inseparable with the faith for centuries, and intrepid heralds of the Gospel to many nations are spoken to as though the scandal happened in a vacuum and Pope Benedict and the central government authority of the Church bear no responsibility for the actions of Irish bishops and priests trained, selected, placed and kept in power by the Vatican.

“Simply writing the words ‘criminal activity’ does not mean and should not be confused with the Pope taking responsibility for the cover-up of crimes. “ the coalition said.

“Like a shell game the letter shifts blame for the crisis on turbulent societal times, bad education of priests and the failure to apply canon law, “ the coalition said.

Let it be resoundingly asked: When was it ever under any circumstance, time, or educational structure considered right to abuse the innocent and vulnerable, to sodomize and rape them, and to cover up these crimes ?

We agree with Pope Benedict that the letter should be read in its entirety and judged in its entirety.

As the survivors, the faithful and all men and women of goodwill read it, let is be remembered:

Pope Benedict ran the Vatican office where cases of sexual abuse by priests have been piling up for years

Pope Benedict ran the Munich diocese where evidence has come forward of his knowledge of abuse by at least one priest before he ever headed a Vatican office

the Irish scandal does not exist in a vacuum, it follows the media revelations of scandals in Canada, the United States, Australia and co-exists with media revelations of scandal in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

“The Church has laryngitis in its moral voice and this letter is not the cure” the coalition.

“Read it, “ the coalition said, “because knowledge is power.”

“ Weep, “ the coalition said because:

it does not announce the removal of Cardinal Sean Brady as primate of Ireland

it does not include the acceptance of the resignations offered by Irish bishops

survivors are left without acknowledgement that a Pope who headed the Vatican office where sexual abuse cases have been piling up for decades knew of their plight and did nothing to stop the cover-up and come to their assistance

the Irish faithful and all men and women of goodwill are given an “apostolic visitation” as the answer to a deep seeded culture of secrecy that grievously wounds the innocent and vulnerable

the emphasis is on priests and there is not acknowlegement of abuse by nuns included in the church institutions and included in the Irish government reports.

Until and unless there is true and substantial response to the crisis, the coalition urged:

Catholics in the United States and Ireland to re-route their collection money either to the direct suppliers of parish utilities and vendors of parish services bypassing diocesan assessments or give the money to trusted charities

Catholics in Germany to revolt against the use of tax monies to support the Catholic Church (taxes are the way churches are supported in Germany)

In making its comments today, NSAC acknowledged the “noble courage” of the survivors that have come forward in Ireland and throughout the world and extended to them its solidarity “most particularly on this difficult day.”

Contact NSAC: Kristine Ward, 937-272-0308/   kristineward@hotmail.com

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January, 2010

Steele County Press

Robert Slocum, Editor
Steele County Press
701-524-1640/

       January 28,2010

A nationwide support group for victims of sexual abuse is reaching out in local Catholic parishes where an alleged predator priest was previously assigned.

Bob Schwiderski, regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, held a press conference Tuesday outside St. Agatha’s Church in Hope.

Schwiderski says several victims from North Dakota have come forward with allegations that Father Gregory Patejko sexually abused them, among them a Zeeland, ND man who settled a claim with the Fargo Diocese after alleging Patejko sexually abused him in 1976.

Patejko was a pastor in Hope, Page and Aneta from 1979 to 1981 and his assignment to the local parishes came directly after his time in the Zeeland/Ashley area. He later served at several churches in Texas before relocating back to Poland. He is now believed to be deceased.

“They picked him up and they dropped him here is what they did,” Schwiderski said. “If there are victims here we urge them to get help.”

Schwiderski says that since his organization was first informed of the Fargo Diocese 1994 settlement with Richard Jangula of Zeeland, three more victims have come forward with stories of sexual abuse during Patejko’s time in North Dakota.

One of these victims also claims to have a “confidential agreement” with the Fargo Diocese. In it, the victims say they received an undisclosed amount of money and agreed not to sue the diocese in the future.

With this information, Schwiderski says he believes there are more victims who have not yet come forward. He also had harsh criticism for the Fargo Diocese, which he says should be open with local parishes about Patejko’s past.

The Diocese of Fargo’s statement of policy regarding sexual misconduct states that in the event of a report of sexual misconduct, “the Diocese is committed to communicating openly and fully with the affected parish or community.”

To the best knowledge of SNAP, Schwiderski says, there has been no communication from the Fargo Diocese to the Hope, Page or Aneta parishes directly referencing Patejko.

“They’re trying to change the subject and pass it off on victim confidentiality,” Schwiderski said. “That’s fine, but come back to your policy and be open with the parishes.”

SNAP vs. Fargo Diocese
The SNAP organization has challenged the Diocese of Fargo publically several times within the past year, claiming it has not aggressively sought to identify and assist victims of sexual abuse.

The group sent out a formal letter in December that was directed at Bishop Samuel Aquila for what the group perceives as a lack of response to allegations against Patejko.

“We’re worried essentially that three church officials allegedly knew of these credible allegations against a predator priest and, at best, stayed silent and, at worst, helped conceal them,” said David Clohessy, SNAP national director.

That letter states that since the allegations were made, “to the best of our knowledge, there has been no personal visit by top church staff to Patejko’s former parishes to urge victims to come forward and get help; no public announcements on the diocesan Web site, in the diocesan newspaper, in parish bulletins, or news releases to the media and public about Patejko’s wrongdoing…”

Bishop Aquila responded to the letter last month in the form of a letter to the editor that was printed in the Fargo Forum on Dec. 22, 2009.

“The most important message”

While the SNAP organization continues to criticize the Fargo Diocese, Schwiderski said the group’s main mission is to offer support and resources for victims. He, too, was abused by a Catholic priest as a boy in Hector, MN, Schwiderski said.

“You are not alone. Thousands of people in SNAP lived through the same burden and we’re here to help,” he added. “We’re not against the church. The issue is that people have been harmed and they need help.”

More on SNAP
SNAP, established in 1989, is a support group for women and men abused by religious authority figures in the United States. SNAP is an independent, 501(c) 3 non-profit organization with no connections with any churches. The group claims to have more than 4,500 members in 55 active chapters.

Reach SNAP at http://www.SNAPnetwork.org or at 1-877-762-7432/

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Media Statement      

       January 29th, 2010

Coalition Suggests Brooklyn Catholics Withhold Money

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) expressed both dismay and wonderment at the news that Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio sent a surrogate to the people of Our Lady of Queen of Martyrs Parish on Sunday to tell them that their pastor, Monsignor Michael Dempsey, had been placed on administrative leave because of an investigation by federal authorities for violation of Internet child pornography laws.

The coalition said it was dismayed that a spiritual leader would resort to a letter read to parishioners at Sunday liturgies on a matter as significant as this and wonderment that any bishop who declares he is concerned about the issues of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth still does not feel compelled to be with his people as their spiritual leader in a time of crisis.

Words are poor subsitutes for presence in any crisis, the coalition said.

Bishop DiMarzio, the coalition noted, had no hesitation when he entered into people’s homes via robocalls in the recent election in praise of Assemblyman Vito Lopez who worked against statute of limitation reform for victims of sexual abuse. As direct a contact as he could get with all registered voters of the Assemblyman’s district seemed a good idea to the bishop.

Maybe the bishop could at least have robocalled the parishioners who were dealing with such a heavy blow.

His announcement of the removal of the pastor quotes him as saying to his people, “You are undoubtedly aware of the deep suffering and hurt that surround any mater of child abuse, especially when the allegations involve a member of the clergy. It can damage, often irreparably the innocence, trust and reputations of all who are who are in any way affected by it.”

The people of the parish, the coalition said, are “undoubtedly aware” we just wonder if Bishop DiMarzio is since actions undoubtedly speak louder than words.

Bishop DiMarzio’s statement says ,“The steps we have taken are essential to maintaining our commitment to the bishops’ Charter and Norms.”

Wouldn’t be wonderful if Bishop DiMarzio had a full court press, flat out, no holds barred committement to the protection of children instead of to a document that has proven its weakness over and over again since 2002.

We suggest the people of the parish withhold their money until they see their bishop in their parish.

Perhaps, that particular kind of absence will make the bishop’s heart grow fonder.

Link to Bishop DiMarzio’s statement:http://dioceseofbrooklyn.org/default_article.aspx?id=4534

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Media Statement    

January 28th, 2010

National Survivor Advocates Coalition Regrets US Supreme Court Decision

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) expressed its regret that the United States Supreme Court banned televising the Proposition 8 trial either by delayed posting on YouTube or live broadcast because of a technicality.

The court ruled that the Ninth District court had not allowed enough time for comments on whether the trial should be televised and therefore the US Supreme Court would not allow the delayed posting or live broadcast.

NSAC reiterated its call for as wide a distribution of the trial proceedings as possible.

The coalition said televising the trial would provide an avenue of knowledge for Catholics about the use of Catholic money by bishops to support or defeat legislation.

Exit polls showed that 64% of Catholics voted yes on Proposition 8 to ban same sex marriage. Catholic bishops in California led by San Francisco Archbishop George Neiderbauer, former bishop of Salt Lake City, formed an alliance with Mormons to support the proposition.

Citing Roman Catholic bishops’ direct involvement in the Proposition 8 issue and the “bitter lessons” learned about these same bishops and secrecy in the clergy sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church, the coalition said it opts for openness in the search for truth.

The Catholic Church, an opponent of Proposition 8, should applaud and support any efforts that open the avenues of access to justice through a transparent process, the coalition said.

Secrecy breeds corrosion and it is an enemy of the truth, NSAC said.

The Catholic Church, an opponent of Proposition 8, the coalition continued, should applaud and support any efforts that open the avenues of access to justice through a transparent process.

The coalition also noted the Supreme Court plans to take up the issue of televised court proceedings later in the term and urged the court to rule in favor of wide distribution of trial proceedings.

Contact:

Jim Jenkins, NSAC – California, 510-559-5173/

Kristine Ward, NSAC, Chair, 937-272-0308/

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December, 2009

Press Statement

       December 17, 2009

If This is Pope’s “Outrage” It is an Oxymoron

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) sees in the resignation of Bishop Donal Murray, Bishop of Limerick, Ireland the failure of a Church unwilling to hear the cries of the innocent until forced into a corner by a civil government.

For 15 years, survivors in Ireland pursued the government’s investigation after they got no serious response let alone compassion or understanding or action to protect other children from the hierarchy that claimed to be part of a moral voice on the planet.

What is admirable today is not the passing of a bishop from his realm but the courage of those whose childhoods were taken from them, whose souls and spirits were deeply scarred yet who nobly rose to advance the cause of truth.

The resignation of one bishop does not end this scandal or even begin to heal its wounds.

Wholesale change, deep and meaningful must come to a hierarchy and a Church that allowed children to be abused and unflinchingly covered up crimes.

If the acceptance of this resignation is Pope Benedict’s “outrage” and “deep distress” for the Church in Ireland, it is an oxymoron.

Contact: National Survivor Advocates Coalition 937-272-0308/

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Press Release

December 17, 2009

National Survivor Advocates Coalition Calls for

“Closing of the Purses” In Ireland

Cites US Experience of Bishops Fighting Victims

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) calls on our Irish cousins to close their purses until they receive a satisfactory response from their local bishops and the pope for the rape and sodomy of innocent Irish children.

The pope and bishops are quick to use words such as “shamed,” “shocked,” or “horrified” and will make hollow apologies and promises of improved programs to protect children. All of this is done to placate the initial distaste of the average Catholic in the pew.

In reality they will quickly tell you the abuse crisis is “history” as did the current President of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They will fight victims and survivors at every step of their search for justice. They will write their own policies and they will offer to police themselves. They will roll out “independent audits” using surveys and checklists designed by none other than the bishops themselves.

Not one bishop will resign or be fired for his inaction in protecting children or for his own involvement in transferring abusive priests, thereby aiding and abetting sexual predators. They will destroy documents or ignore court directives to release files on abusive priests. They will provide zero pastoral care to these children (now adults) who served the priests at the altar or were their students in theology class.

Now is the time to take the only action the bishops and pope understand.

Withdraw the cash these bishops will use to fight survivors, to hire expensive lawyers and public relations firms. Stop the cash flowing to the pope who personally developed some of the existing Church polices when he was Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Sadly, this is the legacy of Benedict XVI and the Roman Catholic bishops of America.

Contact: NSAC 937-272-0308/

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Media Statement

December 15th, 2009

Follow The Money, Get Answers,

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Urges Bridgeport Catholics to “Follow the Money”

Get Answers Before Giving to Christmas Collection

Give to Charities That Have Proven Track Record for Helping Not Hurting Children

The Catholics of Bridgeport Connecticut deserve better than they are getting from Bishop William Lori.

First, their money is spent to fight for a serious and hefty fight to the United States Supreme Court to keep documents about sexual abuse by priests secret.

Now, today’s Hartford Courant reports, that Bishop William Lori paid $40,000 in Catholic money to victims of two priests who remain in ministry in the diocese.

One of the priests, Father Frank Wissel, a pastor and founder of a home for underprivileged says he never knew any payments were paid and he was told an investigation decided the charges were false.

Monsignor William Genuario, the other priest in today’s report, was a vicar general of the diocese, currently a judge on the marriage tribunal court, and has been part of the diocese’s administration since 1956.

The diocesan faithful who contribute to the coffers that pay settlements and legal fees have to be understandably confused: why pay if allegations are false? or if allegations are true why keep priests in ministry when you have a policy of removing them as Bishop Lori says he does?

We urged Catholics in Bridgeport to follow the money and get clear answers from their Bishop before they turn over any more of the their hard earned money in the Christmas and Sunday collections.

The coalition is not advoacting that Catholics in Bridgeport withhold their money from good causes, particularly those that help children. We do urge them to give their money and to dig deep and give generously to any group that has clearly demonstrated that the money is used to help children, not to fight legal battles and obscure the truth.

Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair     937-272-0308/

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Press Release  

       December 11th, 2009

Pope’s Response Woefully Inadequate, NSAC Seeks Removals, Recall

Pope’s Response “Woefully Inadequate” Coaltion Says

NSAC Calls for Removals of Bishops, Recall of Nunci

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) based in the United States, today called Pope Benedict’s response to the Irish sexual abuse scandal as “woefully inadequate.”

Pope Benedict said today after meeting with Irish bishops at the Vatican that he was “deeply dissturbed and distressed” and would write a pastoral letter to the people of Ireland outling future changes in dealing with abuse.

The coalition said in a statement., the Pope should:

·  immediately remove the Bishops who protected sexual abusers in the Irish clergy

·  remove any person in Ireland and in the Vatican hierarchy complicit in protecting abusers

.   recall the papal nuncio

The Pope now has the report, he has spoken with the Irish bishops. Now is the time for action. It has been too long delayed.

The Pontiff has the authority to remove bishops. To leave them in positions of authority sends the message that no wrong was done, no strong action is not needed and all that’s necessary in the face of these horrific revelations is a bit of tinkering on how things will be done in the future.

These horrific crimes cry out for justice. In the name of the Christ Child, the Pope should act.

The Catholic Church is suffering from laryngitis in its moral voice. Today, the Pope offered no medicine that will advance the cure.

One must ask,: How long, O Lord, how long?”

How long, how many meetings, how many letters until there is clear, decisive, real action to own up to the crimes committed against children, the vulnerable and innocent by persons in authority in the Catholic Church?

Contact: Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition     937-272-0308/

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Media Statement

December 11th, 2009

Catholics Need the Truth, Not 12% Shy of the Truth

NSAC keeps up pressure for total document release.

The National Survivors Advocates Coalition (NSAC) calls upon Catholics in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT and throughout the country to be actively vigilant regarding the release of documents that the diocese fought up to and including a request for an appeal hearing from the United States Supreme Court.

The Coalition joined two other national groups, Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and BishopAccountability.org, calling for continued and sustained efforts by the attorneys for the four newspapers that brought the court case for release of documents.

” 1,488 secret documents were withheld recently by the Bridgeport Diocese, “the coalition said. BishopAccountability.org estimates that 12% of the records.

“It’s clear the courts have said the documents should be released. The courts did not say that all documents except for 12% of them should be released,” the coalition said.

“Catholics should be seekers of the truth, the whole truth not 12% shy of the truth,” the coalition said.

” Holding back on 12% of the records on top of a lengthy court fight to keep all of the records secret only reinforces the questions:

What is the Bridgeport Diocese trying to hide?
Whom is the diocese trying to protect?
How much Catholic money is Bridgeport’s secret hiding costing that could be spent on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, liberating the oppressed and educating the next generation of Catholics?”

The coalition asked Catholics to remember that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settlement and the Diocese of San Diego settlement in 2007 included provisions for the release of documents. These releases have yet to be fulfilled.

“We urgently ask our fellow Catholics to make it a priority that all of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s sexual abuse records requested by the four newspapers be released, “the coalition said, “Let us not go the way of Los Angeles where promises become vapors.”

The coalition said, “In the same way that we cannot be complacent about the hierarchy, we cannot take for granted that because Bridgeport Diocese has said it comply with the court ordered release of records that in fact the release of all documents that there will be an unobstructed path to the release of documents.”

“The roots and values of our faith unite us, “ the coalition added, “and we can do no less than heed our call to conscience to be vigilantly engaged in this process.”

Catholics in Bridgeport were asked by the coalition to:

Contact Bishop William Lori in person, by letter or through comments on his blog (www.bridgeportdiocese.com Bishop Lori’s blog) and inform him they are actively vigilant and expect deterrents to the release of documents to cease bring up the matter with their parish priests this weekend and ask them to bring up the matter in any meeting with the Bishop and at meetings of priest councils keep the document issue alive through conversations with fellow Catholics contact the judge handling the release of documents write letters to the editor the expressing their opinions about the process of the release of documents seriously consider withholding financial support to the diocese and their parishes if they documents are not released with all deliberate speed.

Contact:

Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition 937-272-0308/
Full Text of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition Statement

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October, 2009

       [date]

Op-Ed       

Jim Jenkins – A Fork In the Road,     

This section of NSAC News is designed to permit Survivor Advocates to express their opinions and ideas relevant to the subject matter of this newsletter. Your participation is invited and encouraged. Letters to the Editor addressing a particular article should be sent to the Editor of the publication. in which the article originally appeared.  This Op-Ed section provides a forum for our readers to express their independent views.

A Fork in the Road   by  James Jenkins, Ph.D.

 Wednesday, 21 October 2009, I learned from the NY Times of the announcement in Rome by William Cardinal Levada, the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog, that the Roman Catholic Church was taking steps to ease the way, more likely grease the skids, for conservative, reactionary Anglican bishops and priests to be fully accepted into the Catholic communion.

 There are continuing reports out of the Vatican that there is a lot of “inside-Roman-baseball” that underlies much of this story.  Apparently, both Anglicans and Roman officials charged with shepherding “ecumenical dialogue” were caught off-guard and surprised by this audacious announcement emanating from Levada’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office of the Inquisition).

 My own speculation is that this whole incident demonstrates the preference of Benedict XVI’s papacy for exercising his absolute power through his most favored bureaucracy, staffed and stacked with his most trusted operatives, which he fashioned to his own will over two decades as its leader before becoming pope.  We have to presume that Benedict is no fan of collegiality.

 For me personally, this moment seems more like the reflection poet Robert Frost offers in his poem, “The Road Not Taken.”  Spiritually, religiously, and culturally, “Two roads diverged in a wood…”

 After years of revelations of the exploitation of children by sexually rapacious clerics, and the moral betrayal of supposed shepherd-bishops, shell-shocked Catholics are now treated to the spectacle of Vatican politicians, Benedict chief among them, of trying to cherry-pick the low hanging fruit off the Anglican branch of the vine.

 I can almost hear the Anglicans, and their fellow American Episcopalians, heaving a giant sigh of relief that finally someone is willing to take their embarrassing problems off their hands. 

 How politically opportunistic!  This is so rich, so Vatican!  The Vatican apparently hopes to cannibalize Anglican misogynistic and homophobic misfits in order to prop up their own dead-end ideology and failed pastoral leadership of the past forty years? Where is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in that?

 Is this political ploy the fruit of Benedict’s chosen strategy to reclaim the spiritual heart of an alienated Western Europe and North America?  These democratic societies are the very ones the Vatican considers in the throes of “moral relativism” and, by the Vatican’s repeated words and actions over the years, have wished again and again consigned to the historical ash heap.

  This comes in the context of other Vatican shenanigans.  The Vatican is now in the midst of an “investigation” of American religious women, who after making decisive contributions to the cultural and economic development of Catholics in the United States, are now aging and dwindling in numbers.

 There are not a few of us Catholics who smell a clerical rat.  I suspect that the true motivation for this investigation of American Catholic sisters is not to fathom the decline of religious life in American society.  On the contrary, the Vatican seems to more likely to positioning themselves to pick the carcass of the sisters, who have limited but substantial financial and property holdings, in these days of diminishing and depleted church treasuries. 

 I’m sorry, but I can’t think of any other motive for the clerics but power and greed.  They want to be the beneficiaries when these American nuns are no longer able to offer any dissent, or cause trouble by educating the Catholic masses about their individual dignity and independent moral conscience – not highly valued principle by our Vatican clerical overlords.

 I digress.

Let those who want to cling to Roman ways and traditions, continue to do so.  I have to admit that I consider this choice a dead-end.  The signs of the times are all around us, and have been for a long time:  The clerical dominated Catholic Church is passing away.

 The child sexual abuse scandal ripped away any pretense of a healthy, vibrant community led by their celibate priests.  Laid bare was the morally bankrupt and corrupt leadership of bishops and priests complicit in the rape and sodomy of children.  The full scope of the clerics’ financial chicanery and fraud has been assiduously repressed and has yet to be fully disclosed.

 In a shocking reversal of the gospel, our shepherds now aided and abetted the wolves preying on the most vulnerable of the sheep, our children.  The betrayal, the shame, the humiliation will be with Catholics for many, many decades.

  Millions of Americans no longer are even willing to call themselves Catholic, let alone attend or even associate with the church. Priests, most of whom are our friends and confessors, are dying off with fewer and fewer quality replacements.  Parishes and schools are being sold off, many times to easy the financial hit from over $2 billion in settlements from the sex abuse scandal.

 The appropriate response of American Catholics, who seek a reformed and renewed Christian community, rooted in our own cultural and historical traditions, should be to declare our American Catholic Independence.

 We American Catholics should throw off “Old World,” Vatican religious and spiritual hegemony.  Like the ancient Eastern or Oriental rites of the church, we should establish our own American Catholic Rite and be done with it.

 The Roman rite can remain a home for those who still cling to that clerical worldview.  An all male celibate, hierarchical priesthood will most likely continue.  The church over the centuries has always managed to suffer on and endure.  The Vatican and pope could still function as a unifying force for Christianity maybe without the stifling need for absolute control.  But this time, just maybe, in a more humble manifestation.

 This new rite would reflect American democratic traditions and individual freedoms, our unique indigenous culture.  The new American rite could be a church where the PEOPLE DECIDE about our liturgy and prayer, how we manage and administer our resources, whom we ordain, how we designate our leadership.  Anything less, it shouldn’t survive.

 The American rite will only give expression to a distinct cultural identity and spiritual integrity.  It will be uniquely suited to pass on in the American cultural context the values of the gospel, the practice of the Beatitudes and corporal works of mercy, the singular vision of Jesus as the Prince of Peace.

 Taking a page out of the Vatican playbook, American Catholics should ask the Episcopalians for help and assistance in establishing and organizing our new rite.  Most American Catholics would be surprised to learn how much the Episcopalians, while not perfect, already model the church we seek.  We will need guidance in forming our governance, selecting men and women for our priesthood, and establishing a new pastoral identity.

 I am presuming that the Roman church will not be very generous in sharing the resources and infrastructure of the present American church with this new endeavor of a new American rite.  With some striking out to find their own way, the clerics most likely will be hurt and feel abandoned especially when so many indicators foretell a bleak future. 

 Yet, we will need places to meet for worship and prayer, places to educate and form our children.  American Catholics, if we are to survive let alone endure, will have to begin from scratch.

 Like the traveler in Frost’s poem, American Catholics have a decision which path to pursue: Do we stay with the Romans stuck in an alienating reality?  Or, do we strike out on our own fulfilling the best promise of Vatican II. 

 An inexorable evolution toward a Peoples’ Church has already begun.  The evidence has been with us for a very long time.  It may take us decades, whole lifetimes, but we must begin this journey now.  We must help this new Light burn brighter.  Frost’s ending stanza can only give us hope:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

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October 8, 2009

NSAC News – Press Release

National Survivor Advocates Coalition Hails US Supreme Court Decision             

Hopes It Frees Any Person with Information to Come Forward

It is our sincere hope that the United States Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal of Father Gerald Robinson convicted of murdering Sister Margaret Pahl in Toledo, Ohio in 1980 will provide some sense of peace to the Pahl family.

Given the Vatican’s current investigation of US nuns, there seems no better time to wonder where the Vatican’s heft and moral leadership were when a no holds barred approach to finding the killer was needed when Sister Margaret was found slain in the hospital chapel on Holy Saturday 1980.

Instead officials of the Toledo Diocese, the same diocese now headed by Bishop Blair who is carrying out the Vatican’s investigation of nuns, block and blunted a true investigation of Father Robinson.

The Supreme Court has done what Catholic bishops have failed to do: provide justice to victims. This shameful stain cries out for Bishop Blair to seek out any and all victims of Father Robinson and all sexual abuse victims. We hope this decision is freeing for any person who may have any additional information regarding Father Robinson and it is an impetus to come forward to the Toledo police.

Contact:
– Kristine Ward, chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition
  937-272-0308/

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September, 2009

Steve Theisen Editorial Opinion

NATIONAL SURVIVOR ADVOCATES COALITION NEWS

 September 11, 2009                 Vol. 1, No 135

 Op-Ed

 This section of  NSAC News is designed to permit Survivor Advocates to express their opinions and ideas relevant to the subject matter of this newsletter.  Your participation is  invited and encouraged. Letters to the Editor addressing a particular article should be sent to the Editor of  the publication. in which the article originally appeared

The 9 Year Old and the Nun  by Steve Theisen

“Sister, why do you wear that ring?”  as a 9-yr old, I asked

“Because I’m married to Jesus.” she answered.

This nun, my fourth grade teacher wore the brown Franciscan habit with the cross of Jesus around her neck. 

I trusted the Catholic Church at 9 years of age because I believed what Sister said: that she was married to Jesus and the priests were Christ on earth.

After the school day was out, I helped this Sister clean the chalk boards and tidy up. 

One day after school, this school in the north end of Dubuque, Iowa, where I made my First Confession, my First Communion and served as an altar, she had me stand next to her desk where she was sitting. She taught me how the Eskimos kissed. 

A few days later, she showed me how the Americans kissed. 

A few days later, she taught me how the French kissed. 

She continued this abuse after school almost every day, on Saturdays, and during the summer months. 

Visualize a nun, approximately 38, 39 years old, having her tongue in a 9-yr old boy’s mouth? 

Visualize a nun, laying on top of a 9-yr old boy with her tongue in the boy’s mouth or her having the boy lay on her?

Who was the 9-yr old to tell in those days?  Even today some people will not believe these horrors.  Even today, some say we shouldn’t tell.

Sometimes we forget the innocence of children.  I challenge the non-believers of clergy abuse to look at children who are 8, 9, and 10 years old.  Are they not innocent?  Do these children who are in their formative years not trust?

The Church told me at age 7 that I knew right from wrong – the age of reasoning for First Communion.  

“Sister, why do you wear that ring on your finger?”  “Because I’m married to Jesus.”

Who was the 9 yr old boy, going to tell that being he betrayed Jesus because I was fooling around with his wife?   It was the worst of sins.      

Who could I have turned to? 

Who could I have turned to when I knew it was my sin that put one of the spikes into Christ when he was crucified?

Fear and guilt kept this abuse going on until the 6th grade.    

My abuser had me sit next to her during school Masses so she could hide her hand that was holding mine under her habit.  She gave me a rosary and a rosary case. Inside the case was a picture of her that she placed there.  She hid me under her desk when other kids had to stay after school.  When the kids were gone, the abuse would continue.

I broke my arm one summer.  Mom called the nun thinking she’d want to know.  My abuser came to the hospital and from behind the curtain kissed me on the mouth and reminded me to be careful because I may say some things under anesthesia and then she disappeared.

She kept me after school under the pretense of tutoring me in Latin so I could be an altar boy.

Kids teased me about being the teacher’s pet.  That hurt.  The teasing would have been worse had they learned of the abuse.  Even so I couldn’t tell them for surely they would not like me or been friends with an evil and immoral person.

I ended the abuse but feared what she would do or who she would tell.

I can’t look back and ask “what if?”  I can only look forward.  I’m eager to look forward these days and appreciate what I was not able to appreciate in the last 40 years.

Sexual abuse is unforgiving.

I learned now that suffering sexual abuse at a very young age disturbed the mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical growth patterns of my formative years. 

To compensate for the loss of the formative years it seems my brain developed “wrong thinking” or rational to combat the effects of abuse.

Since then, I’ve realized that I have ended many relationships and friendships by just walking away.

I carried the abuse internally and silently throughout my childhood development, teen years, and into adulthood.

My silence didn’t mean everything was okay.  Inside there was so much pain and guilt.

I cried at night curled into the fetal position. 

I grabbed the pain in my stomach. 

I cried silently so my brothers won’t hear. 

The pain was massive.

I prayed to God at night to take away the pain.  I asked Him every night that I would not wake up in the morning.  He would not listen to my prayers.  Even God didn’t like me for He didn’t listen to my prayers.

How did I grow?  How did I grow emotionally, spiritually, and mentally with my terrible sin?  I don’t know.  I did it by covering and hiding my terrible guilt, pain, and shame.  What did that hiding do to me?

I know now that I did not grow into the best person I could have become. 

I now know that I did not become the best husband I could have become. 

I now know that I did not become the best father, son, brother, friend, or co-worker I could have become.

I know now that many lives went unfulfilled because of abuse. 

I now know the lives damaged and unfulfilled were not just victim lives.  Our love ones or those who tried to love us were also damaged and unfulfilled.

Abuse not only affects the victim; it affects those that love us.  I unknowingly found the wrong way to deal with our hurt; a way to ease our pain; a way to block out our guilt.  

What is a family member to say to the victim who is depressed?  Abuse is like the tentacles of an octopus.  It’s capable of destroying and devouring whatever it grabs hold of.

I worried that my silence has meant that other boys experienced my fate at the hands of this veiled pedophile monster.

Flashbacks that trigger the reliving of the abuse all over again.  Flashbacks that cause anxiety, depression, etc.  I handled low self esteem often by striking out against others.  I would feel guilty or hurt so I would isolate myself.  Isolation – the last thing a victim needs.

Sleep disturbance.  What sleep?  Trying to say prayers at night for myself would wind my mind up for hours or I avoided sleep to avoid nightmares.

Imagine the difficulties of controlling memories when trying to intimate with your spouse.

I didn’t go looking for crutches. Abuse found the crutches for me. 

I unknowingly stumbled upon things that took away the pain temporarily. I didn’t know these crutches were temporary pain relievers that could end up in addictions.   I did not know these crutches would cause the people that loved us pain. 

No, I seldom look back.  I look forward to the future. 

But I do wonder, “what if I wasn’t born Catholic?”

Steve Theisen, Iowa SNAP Director
123 Celeste Street, Hudson, IA 50643
319-231-1663/  ltreggiefan@cs.com

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Dr. James Jenkins Editorial Opinion

NATIONAL SURVIVOR ADVOCATES COALITION NEWS

 September 8, 2009                                 Vol. 1, No 132

Op-Ed

 This section of  NSAC News is designed to permit Survivor Advocates to express their opinions and ideas relevant to the subject matter of this newsletter.  Your participation is  invited and encouraged. Letters to the Editor addressing a particular article should be sent to the Editor of  the publication in which the article originally appeared.

Dear Bishop Martino:

Press reports regarding your departure suggest that there is more to your resignation as Bishop of Scranton than “insomnia and fatigue.”

Perhaps now freed from your episcopal duties, you will have more time to pursue your first love:  secular politics. Of course, as we all know, bishops and popes are only the most successful practitioners of the medieval, feudal brand of clerical politics.  But, that’s “inside baseball” for us Catholics.

I never object when a bishop speaks out vigorously to teach, inform and preserve Catholic morality — after all, as Americans we should exercise our right to free speech.  However, when like yourself, bishops and priests consistently engage in partisan politics I believe the antidote is for the church to loose its tax-exemption and start paying like the rest of us.

Besides, we Catholics know that most of the time when some bishop rails about the evils of abortion and attempts to vilify desperate women and Catholic politicians, we understand that he is mostly trying to cover-up the corrupt leadership of the hierarchy.  Especially their moral vacuity and complicity in the sexual abuse of our children by their “brother priests.”

I do hope that you will find peace in your early retirement.

Sincerely,

James Jenkins
Berkeley, CA

James Jenkins is a psychologist in private practice and a member of Newman Hall community at the University of California, Berkeley.

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September 1, 2009      

Tom Doyle Editorial Opinion

National Survivor Advocates Coalition News  

 September 1, 2009                      Vol. 1, No 128

Op-Ed

This section of NSAC News is designed to permit Survivor Advocates to express their opinions and ideas relevant to the subject matter of this newsletter. Your participation is invited and encouraged. Letters to the Editor addressing a particular article should be sent to the Editor of the publication. in which the article originally appeared 

ABUSE BY RELIGIOUS WOMEN-OUT OF THE DARKNESS AND INTO THE LIGHT OF JUSTICE

            It is not uncommon for middle-aged Catholics to get together and share war-stories about their experiences in Catholic schools.  Many recall the physical punishments meted out by the seemingly always-angry nuns with a mixture of emotions.  Some can laugh at it and others remain turned off by what we now realistically label as abuse.
 
            The most sinister and harmful abuse by the nuns has not been bantered about by the alumni of Catholic schools.  For the most part it has remained deeply buried beneath a thick cover of shame, fear, disgust and even guilt.  The mainstream lay people and society in general remained unaware of this deeper and more disgusting level of abuse until very recently when courageous survivors have broken through the walls of fear and revealed not only sadistic physical abuse that went far beyond the boundaries of discipline, but debilitating sexual abuse.
 
            Although sexual abuse by priests and brothers is accepted as a harsh reality except by the few who remain blinded by denial, exposure of sexual abuse by nuns is another story.  Mention of it causes many to recoil in disbelief at something they seem incapable of emotionally and mentally processing.  In spite of the denial that may be rooted in unrealistic or romantic stereotypes of “the good sisters,” sexual abuse and harsh physical abuse have been a reality.  The survivors of abuse by religious women have been struggling for years to be heard and believed.  Now, with the publication of the Ryan Report in Ireland, the range of sexual and physical abuse has achieved a significant level of credibility.  Survivors in our own country are being listened to more attentively.  The pain and anguish is just as acute as that inflicted by perverted priests and uncaring bishops.  The spiritual and emotional trauma is not only as severe but made worse by a thicker blanket of denial and a greater tendency to try to exonerate the “good sisters.”
 
            It matters not how much good religious women have done in our country or world-wide.  That has nothing to do with the reality of abuse that was often systemic and certainly not exceptional in Catholic schools and Catholic orphanages.
 
            My first encounter was in 1994.  I was asked to assist an attorney who represented a number of adult survivors of sexual and physical abuse by the Sisters of Providence at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Vermont.  An especially brave survivor, Joey Barquin, brought the sordid stories to the light in 1993.  Through my experience with that case I was jolted into the harsh reality of the incredible degree of sexual and physical abuse inflicted on those innocent and vulnerable children who were literally imprisoned in the orphanage.  Over the years I have met and worked with a number of other men and women whose abusive experiences came at the hands of terribly disturbed religious women.  Again, it does not matter if the abuse was an exception or the rule.  There is no excuse and there is no justification for ignoring those coming forward today.
 
            My most recent in-depth experience has been with the victims from St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphanage in Anchorage Kentucky.  The tormenters were members of a religious order with the ironic name Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.  Attorney Bill McMurry of Louisville had the courage to take on the Order and the archdiocese to finally bring some measure of justice to the victims.  Read The Unbreakable Child by survivor Kim Michele Richardson.  It will fill you with disgust and anger towards the nuns and amazement at the strength and courage of the writer.
 
            We all know how individual bishops and the national Bishops’ Conference have treated victims of clergy.  It may be stunning to some to learn that the authority figures (I won’t call them leaders) among the nuns, especially those in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious – the LCWR – the nuns’ equivalent of the Bishops’ Conference, have been just as arrogant and insensitive toward the victims who have approached them.  They have stone-walled any attempts at seeking justice by victims.  They have treated them with disdain and coldness.  The sisters in general may garner plenty of praise for work in bringing social justice to the poor, but the “poor” in their own household are surely not the recipients of any such unselfish concern.
 
            The religious women in the U.S. are getting a lot of support and sympathy as a result of the upcoming investigation by the Vatican. The sisters are justifiably complaining that the imperialistic Vatican cabal has acted with arrogance rooted in clericalism, yet they must look at themselves and ask if they have not displayed to the victims of abuse by their own with the same arrogance as the bishops they criticize.  The LCWR needs to clean up its own act and acknowledge the disruptive elephant in their own convent parlor before they can justifiably tell others how to act with justice.
 
            The most moving experience I have had in relation to abuse by religious women was a few years ago when I was speaking in Boston.  After the talk, which by the way took place in one of the vigil Churches, an elderly lady approached me and took my hands.  She looked into my eyes and said in her soft Irish brogue, “I was one of the Magdalenes.  All I want Father, is to know what my real name is.”  I left that encounter in shock and in tears.  It is one thing to hear or read about the unconscionable abuses perpetrated by clerics or religious women.  It is quite another to meet it face to face. 
 
            This gentle victim of the Magdalene nightmare is one of countless people who bear these terrible scars.  If we really are a “People of God” we will bury our denial, banish our unrealistic deference to clerics and religious, and join in the quest for true justice and honest compassion.

  Read the rest of this entry »

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May, 2009

       [date]

Commentary-Special to NSAC-M.Turlish

PUBLIC APOLOGIES FOR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
Sister Maureen Turlish

In the U.S. publication, the National Catholic Reporter, Dominican priest, the Rev. Thomas Doyle has this to say in the article,  ”Irish abuse report demands decisive action,” (05/21/09):
“The report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is not unique though it may well be the most shocking example of the reality of such a culture of evil. In the past two decades over two dozen reports have described physical and sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults by Catholic clergy and religious.” (1)

Church authorities and individual religious communities of men and women are tripping over each other saying how sorry they are that this tragedy happened. A lot more than public apologies from cardinals, bishops, religious superiors and government officials are necessary here.

The government of Ireland made a deal with the Devil in agreeing not to prosecute or name any of the individuals, living or dead, who were party to the widespread torture and abuse of children as has been reported in the recently released Ryan Report.

The Holy See itself along with the bishops and superiors of every religious order implicated in this tragedy like the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of Charity and the individual perpetrators, living or dead, who were ever convicted, credibly accused or known by church authorites to have raped, sodomized, tortured and abused the children in their care should be brought before the world court.

The two nuns who brokered the arrangement with the Irish government to limit the institutional Roman Catholic Church’s accountability and transparency should be ashamed of themselves, I know I am.

They are Sisters Elizabeth Maxwell who was then the secretary general of the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) and currently heads the northern province of the Presentation Sisters, and Helena O’Donoghue the leader of the Sisters of Mercy, south central province.  Sadly, they personify the worst of the church’s clericalism and patriarchial system, just in the female variation.

These are nothing less than crimes against humanity and  they should be prosecuted as such.

The Holy See is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child even though it has never submitted one of the required compliance reports and I suspect that Ireland is a signatory to that document as well.

Every single God given right has been denied these children and they are deserving of some justice. They should get it from the world court and the sooner the better.

Only now are we finding out that the communities involved have met with governmental officials and the Conference of Religious  and have said they “will not reopen discussions on the child abuse compensation deal agreed with the Government,” while government officials are set to destroy all the evidence and testimony on which the Ryan Report was based. (2)

Recent comments by the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, have been less than helpful.  “Courage” is not a word that comes immediately to mind when thinking of the Irish religious communities who were party to this debacle and Nichols was unwise to use it.

Neither Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady or Archbishop Diamuid Martin seem to be able to exert any control over the 18 religious communities involved so it falls to the Holy See and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to step in.
It is unbelievable that the government of Ireland cannot find the authority to void the damming agreement that was made with these religious communities in 2002.

That these communities in a statement released by the the Conference of the Religious in Ireland (Cori) refuse to revisit this agreement while professing concern for the victims involved is disingenuous as well as insulting to those of us who are members of religious communites around the world. (3)

I suggest that Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop Diamuid Martin meet with Pope Benedict XVI as soon as possible and impress upon him the necessity of action.

As Tom Doyle puts it, “there is something radically wrong with the institutional Catholic Church. This is painfully obvious because it allows systemic abuse and radical dishonesty to coexist with its self-proclaimed identity as the Kingdom of God on earth.”

Anything less would amount to a sin against the Holy Spirit.      /mpt

(1) http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/irish-abuse-report-demands-decisive-action
(2) http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0525/breaking14.html?via=mr
(3) http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0525/breaking64.htm

Sister Maureen Turlish is a member of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition. In addition, she is a Delaware educator and victims’ advocate who testified before the Delaware Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of Delaware’s 2007 Child Victims Law.She can be reached at: maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com

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Special to NSAC News
       Thu, 21 May 2009

 OPINION-Sister Maureen Turlish

       REPORT BY IRELAND’S COMMISSION TO INQUIRE INTO CHILD ABUSE

I am thoroughly saddened, disgusted and angered at yet another sweeping indictment of individuals and church authorities including the leadership of both male and female religious communities.

In 2004 it was the “report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

Today it is the commission set up by the Irish government and headed by High Court Justice Sean Ryan that has released the 2,600-page report, which capped a nine-year investigation.

It reinforces the conclusions many have come to in the United States especially since 2002; that the problems of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church have been both systemic and endemic over decades and generations in countries around the world.

It is not an American problem as some cardinals and highly placed Vatican officials argued a few years back. Neither is it caused by the presence of homosexually orientated men in the priesthood.

It is not a conspiracy by the newspapers in the United States or by anybody to bankrupt the institutional church.

It is not the “Know Nothings” of an earlier era in the United States.

It comes from within the institution not from the outside. The institution, the Roman Catholic Church as we know it, has done it to itself.

Clericalism is the all encompassing problem in the church today, that widespread abuse of authority, that lack of accountability and transparency which the United States bishops promised in 2002 but which they have been short on delivering since and should have been practicing all along the line anyway.

The all encompassing mantra that allowed, permitted and enabled this horror to happen, was and is the widespread abuse of power and authority in the Roman Catholic Church starting at the highest levels. It can be see in the reports and documents coming out of the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts in 2002, in dioceses in California like the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and in investigations and reports like the Grand Jury Report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2005.

This is why in Delaware we removed all statutes of limitation regarding the sexual abuse of children with the signing of the 2007 Child Victims Law which includes a two year civil window for bringing forward previously time barred cases of sexual abuse by anyone, if it happened in Delaware.

New Yorkers of all religious stripes and none are well advised to support the Markey/Duane bill on the sexual abuse of children. It is unconscionable for the Archdiocese of New York and the New York Catholic Conference to be opposing accountability and transparency in regard to childhood sexual abuse.

The Irish Report was done by governmental authorities unlike the 2004 report in the United States which was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and for that reason it’s figures especially should be considered suspect.

It is unconscionable that the Irish government actually made a deal with the institutional church to allow no prosecutions for these heinous crimes against humanity. It is equally despicable that the religious order known as the Christian Brothers brought suit and barred the release of any names of any of these known sexually predatory priests to the public.

It is immaterial whether they are living or dead. If the Christian Brothers religious community knew them to be credibly accused, if they had records in church files of these individuals molesting others over the years they should have made these names public for the physical, spiritual and psychological well being of those who were abused, raped, sodomized, etc.

How could they not think of the children before all else?

How could the institutional Roman Catholic Church think of the children before all else?

Sodom and Gomorrah suggest anything?

These crimes against children are in direct violation of and in contradiction to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child to which the Holy See was an original signatory, notwithstanding the fact that no periodic compliance reports have ever been submitted by the Holy See.

Might this suggest a course of action?

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victms’ Advocate
New Castle, Delaware

Sister Maureen Turlish is a member of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition. In addition, she is a Delaware educator and victims’ advocate who testified before the Delaware Senate and House Judiciary Committees in support of Delaware’s 2007 Child Victims Law.

E-mail Sister Maureen Paul Turlish at maureenpaulturlish@yahoo.com

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       May 21st, 2009 at 4:41 pm

NSAC Press Release-May 21, 2009

Widespread Sexual Abuse in Ireland

Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D.   862-368-2800/

The report of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions, schools, and parishes in Ireland, released today, is both shocking and expected. I am a Catholic priest who spent nearly 25 years as an Irish Christian Brother, the same religious order that is slammed by the Irish Government Commission that investigated sexual abuse of children for nine years.

I was sexually groomed and abused from the day I entered the Irish Christian Brothers at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, and I also was a witness to the mishandling of numerous abusers in the Irish Christian Brothers. Five different Christian Brothers abused me while I was a young adult, and another Christian Brother sexually assaulted my first cousin, James Craig Hoatson, who committed suicide on October 10, 1978.

The Irish Christian Brothers, also know as the ICBs, have been correctly referred to by many former students and residents of their institutions as the “International Child Beaters.” For years, every brother was given a large leather strap as an “initiation” into teaching young boys or working in orphanages. The more violent and abusive a brother was, the more he was esteemed.

I presently have a lawsuit pending in State Supreme Court of New York against the Irish Christian Brothers, and I am available for interviews about my own abuse and the institutional cover-up and protection of dangerous predators by the Christian Brothers.

(Fr. Hoatson was ordained a priest in 1997 after having spent nearly 25 years as a member of the Irish Christian Brothers. He has found the same level of sexual dysfunction and abuse in the priesthood, especially among bishops and high-ranking clerics).  Robert Hoatson is a member of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition.

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NSAC PRESS RELEASE

       May 3, 2009

Contact: Kristine Ward 937-272-0308/

National Survivor Advocates Coalition to Bishop Wenski: Sexual Abuse is a Life Issue

Bishop’s Mass of Reparation Should Acknowledge Clergy Sexual Abuse

In the Name of the Gospel of Life Publish the Names, Photos of Credibly Accused Priests in Orlando Diocese

Orlando, Florida – The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) urges Diocese of Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski to acknowledge that clergy sexual abuse is a life issue for which the Church should seek reparation. Bishop Wenski should include the graveness of clergy sexual abuse in the Mass of Reparation scheduled for 6 PM Sunday in the Cathedral of St. James in Orlando.

The coalition said in taking this step Bishop Wenski could advance the cure for the laryngitis in the Church’s moral voice.

Bishop Wenski is asking Orlando Catholics to “come and pray” with him for “all of our transgressions against the Gospel of Life.”

Bishop Wenski’s announcement of the Mass and his recent column The University of Notre Dame and President Obama seem to indicate that this Mass of Reparation is solely for reparation for abortion.

In its urgent call to Bishop Wenski, NSAC said “ it is inconceivable to us that when any bishop celebrates a Mass of Reparation based on the Gospel of Life it would exclude those who have suffered what in essence can and has been called soul murder.”

The coalition added, “unlike other survivors of sexual abuse, other crimes and difficult life events, survivors of clergy sexual abuse face immense, if not impossible odds,  in finding the comfort and strength that the Church in its best sense can bring. This is due, in large measure, to having suffered at the hands of persons Catholics have viewed as the “alter Christus”, the other Christ, an exalted position with a distinct and tight tie with Catholicism.”

NSAC also noted that Bishop Wenski’s announcement of the Mass on the diocesan website says” As Catholics we are aware of the many shortcomings and transgressions committed against the dignity and sacredness of human life in our world. “

The coaltion said, “We expect Bishop Wenksi to be true to his word. The dignity and sacredness of human life is assaulted by sexual abuse.”

The coalition further urged Bishop Wenski to release the names of all credibly accused priests in the Diocese of Orlando, publishing their names, photographs, and parish assignments on the diocesan website.

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSACoalition) works to assist and protect the vulnerable in our communities. NSACoalition further seeks to reveal the truth, promote healing, demonstrate dignity and encourage respect for clergy sexual abuse survivors and their families. We stand in communion with all sexual abuse survivors, their families, those still suffering in silence and those who have died of suicide or been murdered. We stand with those who have, to date, found the courage to speak their truth and stand up for those burdened by the shadows of silence.

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May 3rd, 2009

Exclusive to NSAC NEWS

They just don’t get it!     Or, do they?

From:  Michael Sweatt

Over the last several years, many survivors and advocates of clergy sexual abuse survivors have been heard making the statement “they just don’t get it.”  These statements are often made following meetings with bishops and cardinals and in the belief that the survivors and advocates had made a positive impact by sitting with their Catholic leader.  Days or weeks later, and time after time, almost without exception, we come to learn that it’s business as usual for the hierarchs.

I personally made this same statement after meeting with Maine’s two Bishops, Malone and Gerry, following meetings with both where they made such frequently heard statement as, “I will look into that” or “I will take that under advisement” and most recently in Maine we heard it when Malone claimed he would consider posting the names and locations of credibly accused priests on the diocesan web site.  You might not be surprised that he made the same statement to Voice of the Faithful leadership some 3-4 years ago!

In reality, I now believe, “they do get it!”

They came to realize that their power was all important and the need to protect the Institutional Church from scandal took priority over everything.  The way to preserve their power necessitated aiding and abetting priest after priest and placing these rapists into new, unsuspecting parishes some distance from the community in which they abused.

They “got it” in that they knew they needed to use hardball legal tactics to fight victims and their families and demand confidentiality agreements with those strong enough to fight them.

They “got it” in that they told families they would take a priest out of ministry only to reassign said priest to other parishes or schools where others were abused.

They “got it” in 2002 when they went on the offensive to blame the Boston Globe for their downfall and continue doing this today in diocese after diocese.

They “got it” when they refused to heed the warnings of reports generated in the 80′s by their very own staff, following the extensive abuse crisis and cover-up in LA.

They “got it” by convincing local police and prosecutors to believe they would take care of everything when these public officials inquired about reports of abuse.

They “got it” because they knew time was on their side. They know many victims often wait decades before divulging or reporting their abuse thereby exhausting statutes of limitations.

They “got it” when they drafted the Dallas Charter providing no real teeth in dealing with their own support of the rapists. Not one bishop has been punished and not one priest excommunicated.

They “get it” today by talking about new protection programs while throwing away the survivors and victims and denying them justice by fighting changes in statutes of limitations and aggressively fighting look-back windows.

They “get it” because they know a comprehensive protection program includes notification of the names and whereabouts of known abusers.  Fewer than 10 dioceses have published such information. Predators are kept underground.  Children remain at risk.

They “get it” because they are banking that pew Catholics, Women’s Sodality and Knights of Columbus members will look the other way and continue to support them.  Further, they know most Catholics would never believe that their bishop or cardinal would lie to them.

They “get it” because they won’t hesitate to spend millions of dollars fighting survivors and fighting legislation which would bring justice to survivors.  Bishops and cardinals deny the suicides caused by their malfeasance.
If only they had practiced the principle Primum non nocere when it came to their treatment of children.  If they had, tens of thousands of children in the US and hundreds of thousands of children world-wide would never have been abused!

They “get it” because they know that their authority and power come from money, prestige and the deference showed to them, not from God.

Oh yes, my friends, they “get it.”

Michael Sweatt
National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

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April, 2009

NSAC PRESS RELEASE

       April 30, 2009

Give the Laetere Medal to Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse

The National Survivors Advocates Coalition today called upon the president of the University of Notre Dame to give the Laetare Award of 2009 to the victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.

The coalition released the full text of its letter to Notre Dame president, Father John I. Jenkins, C.SC. and the prayer referenced in the letter.

Former United States Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon declined the Laetere Medal on Monday. Father Jenkins said Monday the University does intend to select another recipient for the 2009 Laetare Medal.

April 30, 2009

Feast of St. Catherine of Siena

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C
President
400 Main Building
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Re: Laetare Medal

Dear Father Jenkins:

This letter is a request to you that the University of Notre Dame give the 2009 Laetare Medal to the victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.

Their numbers are unknown but their outcast status in the Church rivals Dorothy Day’s. They are  Kennedyesque profiles in courage. In the time before their innocence was stripped from them their core loyalty to the Church was tantamount to Mary Ann Glendon’s.

It is our understanding the Laetare Medal carries the inscription “Magna est veritas et prevalebit,” translated  “Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.”

We know the truth of the clergy sexual abuse scandal because of the courage of its victims. It is the truth, the Lord taught us, that will set us free.

It is our understanding that candidates for the award must be practicing American Catholics who have made a distinctively Catholic contribution in their professional or intellectual lives. .

There are survivors of clergy sexual abuse who remain practicing Catholics. It is both surprising and a testament to what is right, just and holy in the faith.

Indeed the victims of clergy sexual abuse have made distinctively Catholic contributions in standing up with the courage that is a gift of the Holy Spirit to provide understanding, wisdom, fortitude and good counsel to all of the Roman Catholic Church.

It is also remarkable that they are able to have professional and intellectual lives given their suffering and its consequences.

No acceptance speech is necessary for the victims.Their lives speak volumes.

We enclose a Prayer for the Survivors and Those Who Did Not Survive. In the five minutes allotted for the Laetare Medal recipient’s speech, the prayer and a full throated ringing of the chapel bells with the entire assembly asked to stand may serve to impress the 2009 Notre Dame graduating class the importance of a lifelong standing up for justice no matter who stands against you.

We appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely.

National Survivor Advocates Coalition

Prayer for the Survivors and Those Who Did Not Survive

Good and gentle Shepherd, Sweet Spirit of God, Creator divine,
in your infinite tenderness comfort the survivors of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.
Deliver them from sorrow, anoint them with hope, sustain them with the Body of Christ,
Take to Your sacred heart those who have committed suicide.
Make of us ambassadors of Your justice, Your lifting of the oppressed and Your desire for all of us to live and move and have our being in Your abundant grace. Amen.

Contact:
Kristine Ward 937-272-0308/

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSACoalition) works to assist and protect the vulnerable in our communities. NSACoalition further seeks to reveal the truth, promote healing, demonstrate dignity and encourage respect for clergy sexual abuse survivors and their families. We stand in communion with all sexual abuse survivors, their families, those still suffering in silence and those who have died of suicide or been murdered. We stand with those who have, to date, found the courage to speak their truth and stand up for those burdened by the shadows of silence.

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Press Release

           April 21, 2009

National Survivor Advocates Coalition Notes St. Louis’ Use of Texting in New Archbishop Announcement

Prods New Archbishop to Use Same Technology to Warn of Predators

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) notes with high interest the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ use of technology in texting the new archbishop’s name, Robert J. Carlson, to any and all who had subscribed to the messaging for this alert.

The Coalition vigourously urges the Archdiocese to use this technology to alert Catholics and all people of good will to danger to children. In short, text the names of those credibly accused in the Archdiocese.

Hailed as a “dedicated to life issues” bishop by the current administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Bishop Carlson was appointed by the Vatican as the 10th archbishop of St. Louis. Carlson leaves his current post as Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan.

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition called upon the new archbishop to immediately signal his intent to follow papal direction to do everything possible for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and use technology to protect children.

Listing the names of credibly accused priests on the Archdiocese’s website would be an excellent first step, the Coalition said.

Contact:  Kristine Ward 937-272-0308/

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   PRESS RELEASE

April 15, 2009

Contact:
Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)-OH (937-272-0308/)
Bob Hoatson, NSAC-NJ (862-368-2800/)

Will It Be Just a Change of Face or An About Face In New York?

Survivor Advocates Call for Reform, Window Legislation for Sexual Abuse Victims in New York

To Do List for New Archbishop: Truth, Disclosure, Action, Compassion

New York, NY – The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSACoalition) knows the Archbishop of New York is no ordinary bishop.

By virtue of the prestige of New York, the heft of the Catholic population, the uniqueness of the City to the United States and the world, this is a diocese where a real difference can be made for the Church.

A new opportunity has presented itself. It must not be squandered. But a new face doesn’t necessarily mean change where it counts.

Timothy M. Dolan can have a major influence in curing the severe case of laryngitis in the Church’s moral voice. If he chooses not to, the sickness of sexual abuse in the Church could turn fatal.

We urge the new Archbishop to choose life for his diocese and the Church by stepping forward to put the clergy sexual abuse scandal front and center on his agenda as a life issue.

We urge the new Archbishop to lead as no other bishop in this United States has led in this crisis:

  • with absolute truth
  • with complete disclosure
  • with overwhelming care for the survivors and the families of those who committed suicide, and the families of those who were murdered.

Specifically, we ask him to:

  • release the names and locations of all credibly accused priests and post them on the archdiocesan website and in church bulletins
  • back proposed legislation in New York to reform the statute of limitations on sexual abuse and a window to allow survivors for whom the current statute limitation has passed to have their day in court
  • allow Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and Road to Recovery to advertise in the archdiocesan newspaper
  • initiate search and rescue of ALL potential victims and survivors
  • collaborate with lay organizations whose expertise has been directed towards providing pastoral care to survivors and victims

We challenge this Archbishop to teach with his actions.

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April 15th, 2009 at 10:23 am

Commentary – Paul Kendrick

THEY SAY WE ARE ANGRY
Commentary submitted by Paul Kendrick

On Tuesday evening (04/09/2009), three of us distributed leaflets to attendees of the annual Chrism Mass at the (diocese of Portland) Cathedral in Portland, Maine. We knew that the attendees at this particular Mass were the most obedient, loyal and “devout” Catholics in the diocese because tickets were limited.

Marie Tupper, whose only child was sexually abused by the family’s parish priest, was on the sidewalk distributing leaflets. It has been publicized that at first, Bishop Malone refused to meet with Marie, then as a result of public pressure, he said he would meet with her and now, he has cut off all communication with her.

Bishop Malone’s mistreatment of Marie is arrogant and hurtful. It is obvious that Malone has no understanding of the Compassion of Christ. Unlike Jesus, Malone puts himself first.

We were there to ask the priests and religious to put their ministries first and their fears second by demanding that Bishop Malone stop abusing Marie Tupper.

What a spectacle it was. Although I have been at many similar events, I have never before encountered so many lifeless, spiritless, unfriendly, rude, and seemingly ignorant “Christians” as I did last evening. It was as if the walking dead were on the march to be with their bishop. Most had joyless, unhappy expressions on their faces. So much for the energizing presence of the Holy Spirit.

And on top of that, most of the priests who walked by would dismiss us with the wave of their hand as if we were dirt. If we engaged a priest in conversation, his priest friends would join him as he walked away, giggling like schoolchildren that he had dared to speak to “them.” You could almost hear the other priests saying, “What did he say to you?” with excitement in their voices.

Immaturity at its best.

I would from time to time ask some of the mass attendees a simple question: “Why are you unwilling to stand up and do what’s right?” One priest angrily told me that he has been “helping people for 56 years.” When I asked him to speak with Marie, he walked away.

Another man confronted Marie directly saying, “I won’t do anything to help you.”

They say we are angry. They are more angry.

What really frightened me about these Catholic Christians is that they appear incapable of thinking for themselves. Their bishop is their God. They are treated like children by their priests and bishops, yet they seem perfectly content.

I had time to closely observe the priests. I was not surprised that not one of them stopped to offer Marie a kind word or a helping hand. Injustice was staring them right in the face and they walked away. They exhibited zero care and compassion. One wonders, who is their God?

Informed, educated and meaningful adult Catholic Christians have little to choose from among this crowd. I cannot imagine any thoughtful person receiving spiritual direction from any one of these priests.

It was pathetic to watch.

Paul Kendrick

Freeport, Maine

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March, 2009

       March 30, 2009

Tribute to Jane Doe

      Special to NSACoalition by Carolyn Disco (Survivor Advocate)

The survivor abused by Marcel Genereux, OMI and later diocesan priest, reported her abuse to the New Hampshire attorney general’s office in 2005. Her letter and subsequent message to them is in the documents just released by that office at http://www.bishop-accountability.org/NH-Manchester/2009_03_07_Audit_Records/excerpts_new_accused/ (scroll down). We have become good friends over the four years I have known her, spending hours together on the phone and visiting.

Let’s call her Jane (Doe). Jane’s comments reinforced the power Genereux exercised over her and how threatened she felt by him. He insisted that what he was demanding of  her was all right, and controlled her behavior and thoughts as much as he could. Typical of abusers, he created a trauma bond, an obligation not to hurt him because he supposedly cared so much about her. He also had her convinced no one would believe her if she told about the abuse, especially the nuns at Presentation of Mary (not true, as she found out).

Genereux was a good speaker and gave many retreats to young girls; his thoughts on the priesthood are instructive, reinforcing his privileged role in their lives. Here are some of his teachings:

The priest is like, and more than an angel— he has a mission to accomplish, he is a missionary for our souls

Priests exist to lead us to heaven

It is because of girls that many young men are in mortal sin

A boy has violent passions and consequently a girl should not play with his heart

At fatima, the children saw hell-many youth were there because of impurity

Jane tried to avoid him for confession, but was scolded if she did not see him. Once when she had a date, he told Jane he was her spiritual father who helped her, and she did not need anyone else.

Her initial bravado reaction to the sexual abuse scandal was, “big deal, it happened to me too,” coming only gradually to appreciate how damaging the violation was. She had tried to forget it, put it on the shelf, and move on with life. But corrosive secrets do not just go away. Like many, it took until middle age or later to examine the painful experience, prompted by the nightmare that just would not disappear.

Jane sees repercussions of molestation in her difficulty in making decisions, the discounting of her ideas — if anybody tears her apart, she accepts it — and a shattering sense of inferiority. She must be no good, hardly worth anyone’s time and love. The spiritual abuse is critical. God will punish you for anything and everything. Scary dreams still continue, and just seeing a priest with the cross like the one Genereux used to wear across his chest triggers reactions.

Jane had the courage to write her classmates and ask if any were abused. Eventually three others were identified, one of whom had committed suicide. Given Genereux’s prior abuse in Rhode Island, and his subsequent assignments at parishes in Lincoln, Hooksett, Suncook, Berlin, Manchester, and incredibly as chaplain at St. Anne’s Home in Dover and Villa Augustina Academy in Goffstown, the probability of more victims is high. She wants to tell them help is available.

What is particularly offensive to Jane is that after she reported Genereux, the priest who headed the nearby OMI’s at the time wanted to hear her story, but in confession. After relating all that happened, he gave her absolution, and required a full rosary in penance. She was used to a few Hail Mary’s and felt she must really be bad to get a rosary. Then, in a clear distortion of the use of confession, he swore her to secrecy, never to tell anyone what happened. That is the rule under which she lived. That meant no counseling help, much less reporting to law enforcement for criminal prosecution, no telling her parents, all presumably designed to keep the secrets so the church would be protected.

Jane was relieved Genereux was removed promptly from the school, but wonders how he could show up as a diocesan priest about eight months later. Did the OMI’s tell the Diocese about his record or not? Did the Diocese assign Genereux to other children’s facilities as chaplain even if they did know?

Jane is one brave woman. I have the deepest respect for her, and the courage it took to name her perpetrator.

/cd

Clergy abuse survivor support, justice for victims & protection of children

__________

January, 2009

       December 16, 2008

LETTERS TO THE BISHOP

(These are texts of letters sent to Bishop Malone. The original authors submitted them for public sharing here.)

LETTER 1 of 3 

December 16, 2008
Bishop Richard Malone
Catholic Diocese of Portland
Portland, Maine

Dear Bishop Malone,

I hope to be able to attend the Midnight Mass at the Cathedral next week. It is my understanding that you will deliver the homily.

I look upon my participation in this Mass as an “immersion experience.” I cannot resist having a front row seat to be able to listen to you preach about the unconditional love and compassion of Jesus Christ, yet, at the very moment you are speaking these words, you and I will both know that you have rejected the mother of a sex abuse victim as unworthy of your time.

The Compassion of Christ calls us to be in communion with those who suffer, Bishop Malone. I will come in peace. But, if you happen to look my way from time to time, you may see me shaking my head ever so slightly (in disbelief), or my head may be in my hands as I pray for the tolerance to remain seated in spite of your hypocrisy.

Each time you see my face during the Mass, Bishop Malone, I want you to remember Marie Tupper, her 85 year-old mother, Claire Tupper, and Marie’s 30 year-old son, Ben Tupper. Ben was sexually abused by Thomas Lee when he was a toddler. Have you ever wondered or inquired as to how Ben and the Tupper family are holding up?

What a Christmas story you have to tell.

At the same time that your houseguest, Rev. Paul Miceli, is warm and cozy inside your mansion on the Promenade, Marie Tupper will be standing on the sidewalk outside your home, shivering from the cold as she waits to meet with you.

Let’s not forget that while working as Secretary of Ministerial Personnel for Cardinal Law, your friend, Miceli, aided and abetted the sexual abuse of children by assisting in the transfer of abuser priests into unsuspecting parishes and schools.

On the other hand, Marie Tupper’s son was raped by her family’s parish priest during the time that Marie’s mother worked in the rectory as the housekeeper.

How ironic it is that you choose to invite Miceli, the very person who facilitated the sexual abuse of children, into your home, yet, at the very same time, you slam the door on a mother whose only child was wrecked forever because of the harms and injuries inflicted upon him as a result of his child sexual abuse.

It will be a trying experience for me to hear you preach on Christmas Eve, Bishop Malone. Knowing what we both know, how will you ever be able to preach the gospel with passion and integrity?

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Sincerely,
Paul Kendrick

LETTER 2 of 3 

January 2009

Bishop Richard Malone
Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
Portland, Maine

Dear Bishop Malone,

I am writing on behalf of Paul Kendrick, and the recent events that have taken place in banning his attendance from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

First, as a survivor of criminal sexual abuse at the hands of James Vallely, I would also be interested in meeting with you in person. I cannot understand how you can make such misjudgments upon Paul Kendrick when you have refused to meet with him, and do not even know him. When I came forward for the second time to report my sexual abuse, Paul Kendrick reached out to me with mercy, love and grace. He cared about me as a person, and cared of the suffering that I have been living with since 1976, while serving as an altar girl.

You see, when I called St. Michaels Church, in So Berwick, Maine in 1994, and tried to report my sexual abuse the first time to Priest Philip Tracy, Sr., I was simply met with a harsh and cold heart. Priest Tracy, Sr. did not respond with compassion, mercy or love; but rather, rebuked me, asking me, “what do you expect me to do about it?” and further telling me, “you just need to forgive him,” and “move on with your life.”

When I sit down with you, I would very much like Priest Tracy, Sr. to be present so he may be accountable for his lack of mercy, lack of compassion, lack of love, and lack of his commitment to children and abuse survivors. You know Bishop Malone, the secrecy in sexual abuse at the hands of a “holy” priest lies in the shame and guilt of the child. Priest Tracy, Sr. only perpetuated my feelings of self-loathing, filth, shame and guilt. Paul Kendrick did the opposite. He is only the second person in my entire life that has said the sexual abuse “is not my fault.” I was a little girl; eleven years old, and innocent.

So in retrospect, I have an answer for Priest Philip Tracy, Sr. What did I expect him to do with this information? First, I expected him to care, and like Jesus, be “moved with compassion,” and reach out to me with love and sadness for the life that was lost. Second, I expected him to report this crime to the proper authorities, since the standard of care stated, “four years before the 1997 Law, the Portland diocese adopted a policy to investigate reports of sexual abuse by priests as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.” He violated both statutes; first and foremost, his vows as a priest to protect children, and further, to spiritually guide and nurture a wounded adult.

Paul Kendrick is a decent, God-fearing person who stands for justice, and has defended the weak against a corrupt and wicked system. Paul Kendrick has simply shown a “righteous anger” towards a most vile and criminal situation like the sexual abuse of children.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but Jesus Christ NEVER refused to meet with anyone who called upon His Name. Being filled with love, and moved with compassion, Christ made the time for children, the sick, poor, widowed and shunned. He never turned anyone away. In fact, Matthew 9:12-13 states, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND NOT SACRIFICE: For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Don’t you understand Bishop Malone? There is a great need for your wounded, hurt, and spiritually dead parishioners to meet the Great Physician who is called Jesus. Don’t you have a special responsibility as a leader and representative of Christ to reach out to those who call upon your name?

A man’s character, and the actions behind his words show a direct picture of the condition of his heart. Bishop Malone, I pray that your heart will be filled with Mercy, Love, and Grace. How can there possibly be peace and reconciliation if there is no communication? I pray that you will choose to meet with Paul Kendrick,20and all the others, such as Marie Tupper who needs and desires spiritual healing, mercy, and understanding.

On 17 April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI met with a group of sex abuse victims, listening to their personal accounts, and “offered them words of encouragement and hope.” Pope Benedict goes on to say, “I don’t have the words to describe the harm and pain inflicted by such abuse,” citing “Bishops for mishandling the crisis,” and “promised to do better,” stating, “we are deeply ashamed and we will do all that is possible that this cannot happen in the future.”

Bishop Malone, do you think you have acted as the Pope has stated? Have you done all that is possible to ensure the protection of our children? Have you done all that is possible to facilitate communication and healing among the spiritually dead? Have you extended mercy and grace to your brother when mercy and grace are not due? To me, a promise is a vow. The Bible says that it is better not to make a promise, and to say nothing, rather than to make a promise to God Almighty, and not keep it.

(Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)

Bishop Malone, in all due respect for you as a person, and your leadership position as a Bishop, I must question your feeling that Paul Kendrick is attempting to “unnerve or distract” you. I have to believe it is your own conscience that is convicting you of right vs. wrong, reflecting as the Bible states in Romans 2:15, “the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.”

In closing, I implore you to meet with Paul Kendrick, and other victims and family of clergy sex abuse. Only honest and open communication will produce lasting and peaceful resolutions. Paul Kendrick is a sincere, compassionate, peaceful man full of mercy and grace. Mr. Kendrick’s only goal is to pursue righteousness for the innocent, and bring healing to the hurt. Paul Kendrick fights only for truth and justice; solely for the positive and much needed reform of the Catholic Church.

Sincerely,

Catherine S.

LETTER 3 of 3 

December 22, 2008
Bishop Richard Malone
Roman Catholic Diocese of PortlandPortland, Maine

Dear Bishop Malone,

I was dismayed to see that you served Paul Kendrick with a criminal trespass notice, barring him from attending Midnight Mass at the Cathedral.

As an advocate for those who were abused, Paul has stood firm that victims and survivors be treated with dignity and respect, actions that Jesus would certainly have applauded.

Paul has chosen to make people aware of how their action (or inaction) affects survivors of clergy sexual abuse. He has held people accountable for their actions, another belief that certainly follows the teachings of Jesus.

You sir, have opted to use your position to protect an institution, calling on civil authority when it best serves you. This is not the first time you have done this.

Shame on you.

Paul, Marie Tupper and I wanted only to ask you about the status of the Reverend Thomas Lee case, and did so in front of Bull Feeney’s only because you refused to meet with Marie and myself. You chose to shuffle us off to underlings, as though it wasn’t important to you. I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is to Marie Tupper.

In case you had forgotten:

Marie’s son was molested by this monster who is still called a priest, and the damage to her son is ongoing.

Shame on you again.

In the past five years, we have called you to account on a number of different issues. All of them have been concerned with helping survivors and protecting children. You chose from day one to stonewall and dismiss us as a fringe group out to tear down the church. The very first time we showed up on the sidewalk outside the cathedral, you served Paul and me with criminal trespass notices, though we had not stepped on the church property.

Sound familiar?

We were asking for the names of ALL those credibly accused of molesting children, and you served us with a criminal trespass notice.

Shame on you again.

We stood outside your cathedral for over a year, and you eventually released the names of many of those who have been credibly accused. How sad that it took so long to do something that will help protect children from being abused.

We discovered that priest Michael Plourde had been living for years within a block of where he had raped children. Please note the plural use of child, since there were multiple victims, one of whom came to us as we were standing outside St. Josephs in Biddeford. He told us that he was one of Fr. Plourdes victims, and he cried unabashedly while thanking us for making other children safe. You knew Michael Plourde was living there and never let anyone know. We were castigated by parents for standing in front of St. James School, yet two days later you released his name.

Shame on you again.

I have to tell you that I am planning to be at the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at the Cathedral. I will not give you any reason to call the local police. I fully intend to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus. I will also stand there in support of the victims of abuse, and the prevention of further abuse by those who you KNOW present a danger.

Please look for me.

Harvey Paul
Director, Maine Chapter
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)

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January 11, 2009

Support Builds for Victim’s Mother

Support Builds for Victim’s Mother; Advocates Face Bishop Malone
Invitation extended to Malone to join advocates’ ministry

           Portland, ME – Building support for Boothbay Harbor mother Marie Tupper in her quest for a face to face meeting with Portland’s bishop came in an unprecedented action this morning at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Scarborough.

Practicing Catholics who are survivor advocates, many coming from throughout New England, especially the Boston area, ground zero for the clergy sexual abuse crisis, joined local members of the National Survivor Advocate Coalition (NSACoalition.org), SNAP, VOTF Sidewalk Affiliate and other lay Catholic organizations in urging the long delayed meeting between Tupper, the mother of a clergy sex abuse victim, and the head of the Portland Catholic Diocese, Bishop Richard Malone.

And they did it using no spoken words: only badges.

Bishop Malone installed Msgr. Michael Henchal as pastor of the local parish at the 10:30 AM Mass this morning. National Survivor Advocate Coalition representatives and those of the other lay groups wore “Bishop Malone, Please Meet With Marie” badges as they attended the Mass and received Communion from Bishop Malone.

Delivering a direct message within a church to a Catholic bishop is an unprecedented action. Yet, this is an appropriate action given Malone’s recent action of banning an advocate from a church.

Bishop Malone has taken a major step toward banning survivor advocate Paul Kendrick from receiving Communion by filing a case in the Church’s legal system. In addition, a notice of criminal trespass was filed with the Portland police against Kendrick to bar him from attending Christmas midnight Mass in the cathedral. Kendrick has been a strong advocate of clergy sexual abuse victims and their families, including Marie Tupper.

“The intent of this action was not to interrupt or disrupt a Catholic liturgy but to respectfully break across the barriers of silence and stonewalling by Bishop Malone to entreat him into a place of compassion and care for those who are suffering. The clergy sexual abuse crisis is the largest crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in 500 years. Yet, Bishop Malone turns a blind eye and deaf ear to meeting with Marie Tupper and seeking out those who have been abused,“ said Kristine Ward, chair of the National Survivor Advocate Coalition.

Asked why it was necessary to take this action, Michael Sweatt, a Portland member of the National Coalition of Survivor Advocates said, “Letters and phone calls to the bishop’s office have not produced a meeting with this mother of a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.”

“We are gratified to have the support of so many members of other lay organizations, “Michael Sweatt said after the Mass, “These practicing Catholics have been meticulous, fair and dedicated to getting to the facts in the search for truth in the clergy sexual abuse scandal and in supporting victims and their families.”

The survivor advocates said they invite and would welcome Bishop Malone joining  them in a ministry of listening, supporting and seeking justice for survivors and their families.

Those who came from throughout New England and the local supporters met with the press following their attendance at Sunday Mass.

The supporters of Marie Tupper’s efforts to get a meeting with her bishop pointed the press to the Bishop’s website for backing for today’s silent action as the Bishop writes in Telling Anew the Story of Jesus the theme of his Evangelization Program:, “We envisage, therefore, a Christian or a group of Christians as people who, in the midst of the community in which they live, will show that they are capable of understanding and accepting others and of cooperating with all those who are seeking to protect what is noble and good. We envisage them radiating simply and spontaneously their faith in values which transcend common values and their hope in things which are not seen and of which even the boldest mind cannot form an image. By bearing such silent witness these Christians will inevitably arouse a spirit of enquiry in those who see their way of life. Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? Why are they among us? Witness of this kind constitutes in itself a proclamation of the good news, silent, but strong and effective.” http://www.portlanddiocese.net/info.php?info_id=93

Contact:
Michael Sweatt 207-831-3791/
Kristine Ward, 937-272-0308/

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSACoalition) works to assist and protect the vulnerable in our communities.  NSACoalition further seeks to reveal the truth, promote healing, demonstrate dignity and encourage respect for survivors and their families.  We stand in communion with the survivors, their families, those still suffering in silence and those who have died of suicide or been murdered. We stand with those who have, to date, found the courage to speak their truth and stand up for those burdened by the shadows of silence.

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       January 11th, 2009

FROM THE MEDIA – Survivor Advocate Group Seeks Truth

PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER) — The National Survivor Advocate Coalition wants Bishop Richard Malone to share the truth about Priest Abuse in Maine. The group passed out information disputing statements made by the Bishop and Diocesan Spokeswoman Sue Bernard. Just last week Bernard said the actions by Paul Kendrick, a victim advocate, should be considered harassment toward the Bishop. Kendrick says he is forbidden from being in the same building as Bishop Malone. The group wants Malone to release the names and locations of Priests involved in abuse in Maine. They also want the Bishop to work directly with the victims and their families.

NEWS CENTER

__________

       12/28/08

PRESS RELEASE

     Unprecedented legal action by Roman Catholic bishop

Contact: Paul Kellen, 781-395-3628/

(December 28, 2008) Unprecedented legal action by a Roman Catholic bishop against a supporter of clergy abuse survivors has prompted a national coalition to form in solidarity with the advocate.

Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Diocese of Portland, Maine initiated a Criminal Trespass Notice with threat of arrest, and a Notice to Discontinue Harassment from the Portland Police Department to activist Paul Kendrick on December 23. The legal move forbade Kendrick’s attendance at Christmas Eve mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In addition, Malone is reportedly pursuing excommunication of Kendrick from the Catholic Church, effectively barring him access to the sacraments.

These harsh measures are being opposed by survivor advocates across the nation who formed a National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) to press their case. They are practicing Catholics alarmed at retaliatory action by a bishop that could set precedent elsewhere.

Kendrick has been a forceful presence, objecting to Malone’s lack of action to protect children: refusing to post on the diocesan website the names and locations of credibly accused priests, some of whom live unsupervised near children; refusing to meet with the mother of a victim of a Maine priest; the diocesan staff’s refusal to pay for psychiatric evaluation recommended by a counselor concerned about a potential suicide – t o name several concerns.

Kendrick’s advocacy has never disrupted any liturgy or prevented access to it. His holding signs and distribution of information about accused perpetrators has been within the law, so Malone’s response is beyond all proportion to the facts.

The Coalition stands behind Kendrick in his efforts to help survivors, and to remain a committed Catholic in good standing.

The full text of the letter follows. 

December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Innocents
Bishop Richard Malone
Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

510 Ocean Avenue
Portland, Maine 04102

Dear Bishop Malone,

We are practicing Catholics who advocate for the protection of children from sexual abuse. We are located throughout the United States and are writing to you in response to your recent civil and canonical actions against Paul Kendrick.

For the past nine years, Paul has emerged as a passionate and persistent advocate for the protection of children, spending immeasurable time and effort helping those who were abused. Paul’s clear and forceful voice for truth, justice and healing for abuse victims extends far beyond the confines of Maine.

On Tuesday of last week, at your request, the Portland Police served Paul with legal papers: 1) Criminal Trespass Notice and 2) Notice to Cease Harassment. Four days later, you sent Paul a formal letter in which you threatened him with interdict (essentially excommunication) from the Catholic Church.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This feast day, as you well know, commemorates King Herod’s slaughter of thousands of children in an attempt to murder the child Jesus. Victims of clergy sexual abuse have suffered the murder of their souls, the death of all that is sacred. This day puts innocents in sharp relief against those who have not heeded Pope Benedict’s injunction to do everything possible to relieve their suffering.

Your refusal to meet one-on-one with the mother of a victim of clergy sex abuse is offensive to us and hurtful to the victim and the victim’s family. Have you no empathy or understanding of her pain and suffering? This mother wants to help you help others in her community. You have rebuffed her.

You could go to her aid and tell her community that no, she and her son are not the only reporters of abuse in her parish. Frankly, we understand, there are several more innocents abused by this one priest. Instead, your silence allows her to take the brunt of the anger of her community over the sexual abuse crisis. Where is your integrity and compassion Bishop Malone?

A week doesn’t go by, Bishop Malone, without an abuse victim calling one of us in search of relief from a bishop or other church official who is either bullying, ignoring or otherwise harming them. Two months ago, Paul and other Maine advocates intervened when your staff informed an abuse victim that the diocese would not pay for a psychiatric evaluation, even though the person was having thoughts of suicide and his counselor had prescribed it.

You make speeches and issue press statements, Bishop Malone, in which you claim you are doing all that you can to protect children. What you don’t say is that you have been pushed pulled or tugged every step of the way. For instance, in January 2007, you finally identified several more priests who abused children only because of the tension and pressure exerted by Paul and a small group of victims and supporters who stood on the sidewalk in front of the Cathedral each and every Sunday for an entire year.

Outside mass each Sunday, a small group held a huge sign calling upon you to identify and make known the whereabouts of all priests, religious and church workers who were credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

Further, Paul and the Maine Director of SNAP, Harvey Paul, stood on consecutive Sundays in front of the Catholic Church in Biddeford because you refused to tell the community that child molester, Rev. Michael Plourde, was living on the next street from the church in an apartment building full of children. None of the neighbors knew of Plourde’s past history of child abuse. Paul Kendrick sent several emails to you and the principal of the Catholic School in Biddeford asking for your help to warn parents. Neither of you responded. Paul and Harvey then distributed leaflets in front of the Catholic School amidst misdirected criticism from the community.

Your statement last Friday on the Father Thomas Lee case only came about following weeks of questioning and probing by Paul and other advocates. You had received updated information in August that you didn’t see fit to share with the families of survivors. Isn’t five years enough of a wait to hear something, anything on the status of this case? How much longer would you have made them wait?

It is ironic, Bishop Malone, that at the same time you have been discrediting and disparaging Paul for his forceful advocacy on behalf of those who were abused, Paul has been standing in the cold, holding a sign and handing out leaflets trying to save children from being sexually assaulted in Biddeford and elsewhere.

Why won’t you publish the names and locations of priests who have been publicly accused of child sex abuse, on the diocesan web site? You would do more to protect children if you took this simple act. We urge you to do this.

It is also ironic, Bishop Malone, that although not one priest or bishop who sexually abused children has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, you are threatening to deny Paul the sacraments, a man with whom you have never spoken nor held a meeting.

At every stop along the way during his trip to the U.S., Pope Benedict told his bishops to “…do everything possible so that this does not happen again” when referring to the assault on innocents, the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

We want you to know that we stand in communion with Paul Kendrick, a Catholic who takes seriously Christ’s commandments and Pope Benedict’s charge that we do everything possible to protect innocent children and help heal the wounded.

Bishop Malone, do you believe your actions measure up to the papal standard?

Sincerely,

Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)-OH (937-272-0308/)
Michael Sweatt, NSAC-ME (207-831-3791/)
Marge Bean, NSAC-MA (617-851-6536/)
Tom Byrne, NSAC-OH (216-337-4017/)
Mike Coode, NSAC-TN (615-364-2334/)
Carolyn Disco, NSAC-NH (603-424-3120/)
Ed Friedl, NSAC-OH (330-289-8430/)
Bob Hoatson, NSAC-NJ (862-368-2800/)
Jim Jenkins, NSAC-CA (510-599-5173/)
Paul Kellen, NSAC-MA (781-395-3628/)
Lisa Kendzior, NSAC-TX (817-773-5907/)
Chuck Miller, NSAC-DE (240-481-0003/)
Judy Miller, NSAC-DE (302-234-1519/)
Ruth Moore, NSAC-MA (781-925-3080/)
Bob Schwiderski, NSAC-MN (952-471-3422/)
Steve Sheehan, NSAC-MA (617-319-0477/)
Sister Maureen Turlish, NSAC-DE (610-212-2770/)
Frank Douglas, NSAC-AZ

cc: Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Papal Nuncio to the United States

__________

PRESS RELEASE

        January 3, 2009

Bishop Malone’s Police and Canonical Actions Against Advocate Sparks National Coalition to Check the Facts

Portland Bishop’s Half Truths, Exaggerations, False Representations Revealed

Catholics Urged to Seek the Truth

Call to Catholics to Cast Off Inertia, Get the Facts

When:  Sunday, January 4 from 9:30 AM to 10:15 AM

Where:  Outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress St., Portland, ME

Who:   National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), including the advocate who is Bishop Malone’s target, with assistance from local survivors and family members

What:  Press Conference, 9:30 AM

Distribution of Fact Sheet to Mass goers 9:30 AM to 10:15 AM

Why:  To get out the truth. For society’s good, moral and spiritual leaders must be held accountable.

Bishop Richard J. Malone, Diocese of Portland, ME, filed a Notice of Criminal Trespass against survivor advocate Paul Kendrick to bar him from attending Christmas Midnight Mass at the Portland Cathedral. The bishop went further and took Church legal action against Kendrick that could keep him from receiving Communion.

Coalition members say Bishop Malone is using heavy handed civil and Church actions to silence victim advocates. The coalition says threatening to use the Sacrament which Catholics hold as the most sacred as a weapon against anyone who speaks out is a dangerous path for believers and harms the Church’s position as a moral voice in society.

The coalition urges Bishop Malone to stop, reflect, and hold reasonable discussions with survivors, family members and advocates.

In addition, the coalition is calling for the bishop to post the names of priests who have abused children on the diocesan website to provide knowledge for the protection of children.

Bishop Malone has the rank of high Church office, diocesan staff, a website, diocesan newspaper, parish bulletins at his disposal. This level of power requires an equal level of accountable responsibility.

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) is distributing the fact sheet in an attempt to make sure false statements, half truths and exaggerations do not continue to exist. The coalition hopes to bring awareness to Catholics and urges them to get the facts about what happening in their Church.

Contacts for additional information:

Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)-OH (937-272-0308/)
Michael Sweatt, NSAC-ME (207-831-3791/)
Marge Bean, NSAC-MA (617-851-6536/)
Tom Byrne, NSAC-OH (216-337-4017/)
Mike Coode, NSAC-TN (615-364-2334/)
Carolyn Disco, NSAC-NH (603-424-3120/)
Ed Friedl, NSAC-OH (330-289-8430/)
Bob Hoatson, NSAC-NJ (862-368-2800/)
Jim Jenkins, NSAC-CA (510-599-5173/)
Paul Kellen, NSAC-MA (781-395-3628/)
Lisa Kendzior, NSAC-TX (817-773-5907/)
Chuck Miller, NSAC-DE (240-481-0003/)
Judy Miller, NSAC-DE (302-234-1519/)
Ruth Moore, NSAC-MA (781-925-3080/)
Bob Schwiderski, NSAC-MN (952-471-3422/)
Steve Sheehan, NSAC-MA (617-319-0477/)
Sister Maureen Turlish, NSAC-DE (610-212-2770/)
Frank Douglas, NSAC-AZ

__________

PRESS RELEASE – 01/04/09 – NSAC presses bishop Malone for truth

January 4, 2009

Bishop Richard Malone’s Police and Canonical Actions Against Advocate Sparks National Coalition to Check the Facts

Bishop Malone’s Half Truths, Exaggerations, False Representations Revealed

Fact Sheet Has Point by Point Analysis of Recent Statements and Characterizations

Call to Catholics to Cast Off Inertia, Get the Facts, Seek the Truth

Portland, ME – The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) pressed the case for getting to the truth about the actions of Bishop Richard J. Malone against a Maine survivor advocate by distributing a fact sheet outside the cathedral in Portland, ME today.

On this first Sunday of the new year, the coalition called upon Catholics to resolve to cast off inertia and get the facts.

The fact sheet is a point by point in depth analysis of Bishop Malone’s and diocesan spokesperson Sue Bernard’s recent statements and characterizations regarding Paul Kendrick and other survivor supporters.

Mike Sweatt, a Maine member of the coalition said,  ”What we see Bishop Malone doing is dodging the real issues of confronting the clergy sexual abuse crisis and using heavy handed tactics against an advocate. It’s a shell game to turn attention away from the bishop’s lack of true response to victims and their families.”

Sweatt said the coalition members, survivors and family members came to the cathedral to distribute the fact sheet to try to counter balance the  weight of the communication outlets Bishop Malone has at his disposal.

“The bishop has diocesan staff, a newspaper, a website, parish bulletins and ready access to the news media as a leader of nearly 200,000 Catholics in Maine.” Sweatt said. “But we believe it is imperative to try get the facts out even if we are in a David and Goliath situation.”

Mr. Kendrick, of Freeport, ME, has been an outspoken advocate for survivors since 1999 and involved in justice issues for many years.

He reiterated today, “This is not about me. It’s about justice and compassion for the vulnerable, the weak and the innocent among us. It’s about protecting children. It’s about gospel values. When any of us doesn’t follow what we profess to believe in, including the bishop, Christian correction is needed and a call to fully follow the gospel must be made. We can’t afford to follow scandal upon scandal. And it is a scandal when bishops use words that sound holy but are not carried forth in actions.”

At the press conference, local members of the coalition called upon Bishop Malone to stop the over done legal approach, reflect on the current situation, inform the community of abusers, and hold meetings where reasonable discussions can take place among the bishop, survivors, family members and advocates.

The coalition, whose members are practicing Catholics from throughout the United States, called upon the bishop to post the names of priests who have abused minors on the diocesan website so that the community may have the knowledge to protect children.

Bishop Malone filed a police action of criminal trespass against Mr. Kendrick’s attendance at Midnight Mass Christmas Eve in the Portland cathedral. The bishop went further and took Church legal action against Mr. Kendrick that could keep him from receiving Communion.

“To use the holiest of our sacred rites, Communion, as a ploy to muzzle a survivor advocate combined with the implied warning to others who might speak up crosses the line of proper use of a bishop’s authority. It’s deplorable.” said Kristine Ward, of Dayton, OH, chair of the coalition.

“The Church already has laryngitis in its moral voice because of the scandal. To use these kinds of out of proportion tactics further endangers the recovery of moral leadership by not only Bishop Malone but his brother bishops”

Another coalition member, Jim Jenkins from Berkley, California said,“ We’ve seen the same tactics by bishops from coast to coast. The words are parsed, the information incomplete, the record intentionally left vague, pledges made and not kept yet believed because there is a bishop’s name attached to the statement. It’s not only time, it’s well past time, for the truth to surface.”

Jenkins served on the archdiocesan lay review board empanelled by Archbishop now Cardinal Levada. Jenkins resigned on principle when Levada refused to fully investigate the leads that came to the diocese and the review board regarding clergy and sexual abuse. Levada, Jenkins said, chose to protect clergy, including bishops, rather than investigate. Levada is now head of the Vatican congregation that reviews sexual abuse cases, the office Pope Benedict held prior to his election as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

Contact:

Kristine Ward, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)-OH (937-272-0308/)
Michael Sweatt, NSAC-ME (207-831-3791/)
Marge Bean, NSAC-MA (617-851-6536/)
Tom Byrne, NSAC-OH (216-337-4017/)
Mike Coode, NSAC-TN (615-364-2334/)
Carolyn Disco, NSAC-NH (603-424-3120/)
Ed Friedl, NSAC-OH (330-289-8430/)
Bob Hoatson, NSAC-NJ (862-368-2800/)
Jim Jenkins, NSAC-CA (510-599-5173/)
Paul Kellen, NSAC-MA (781-395-3628/)
Lisa Kendzior, NSAC-TX (817-773-5907/)
Chuck Miller, NSAC-DE (240-481-0003/)
Judy Miller, NSAC-DE (302-234-1519/
Ruth Moore, NSAC-MA (781-925-3080/
Bob Schwiderski, NSAC-MN (952-471-3422/
Steve Sheehan, NSAC-MA (617-319-0477/)
Sister Maureen Turlish, NSAC-DE (610-212-2770/)
Frank Douglas, NSAC-AZ
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