Wednesday, September 24, 2014
For years in the 1970s and 1980s pedophile priest Eric Dejaeger victimized Inuit (Eskimo or native people living in artic regions in the U.S. and Canada). The 67-year old Dejaeger who was previously defrocked but not locked up – has been found guilty on 24 of 68 charges against him. His crimes were horrific: 24 counts of indecent assault, one of unlawful confinement, two of buggery, three of unlawful sexual intercourse, one of sexual assault and one of bestiality according to CBC News in Canada. Dejaeger’s victims were 12 boys, 10 girls and a dog he raped in front of two children. Most were between the ages of eight and 12, with some as young as four and as old as 18. So God’s creatures as well as children are fair game for rapist priests.
Dejaeger had escaped to Belgium in 1995, hiding there illegally. He was sent back to Canada in 2011 through the efforts of Lieve Halsberghe, one of several human rights activists who helped track down Dejaeger in Belgium. She said that the victims “showed extreme courage to face this monster after so many years and so much suffering.” The victims were afraid that no one would believe them --their parents did not believe them when they tried to tell them that they were forced to watch Dejaeger rape a dog.
Many of us want to know how Dejaeger got away with such abuse for so long. He used the same tactics that all rapist priests use: cajoling them with treats and using food to control poor and hungry kids. He directly assaulted them: one witness told of being taped to a bed and raped from behind as a child. Dejaeger also threatened them with “hellfire or separation from their families” if they told on him, according to CBC News.
Dejaeger had originally spent 5 years in prison on earlier charges but in 1995 he avoided a second set of charges when he fled to Belgium. He will be sentenced in January 2015.
Why is it so easy to commit these crimes and get away with them? It is because the catholic church follows the Doctrine of Discovery. In the 15-century papal bulls (laws) gave representatives of the catholic church permission to seize lands of Indigenous Peoples (native Americans, including in Canada) and to colonize their lands. The result was the wiping out of native languages and cultures.
The popes of the Roman Catholic Church encouraged the kings of Portugal and Spain to conquer “undiscovered” lands, enslave their non-Christian populations and steal their possessions and resources. The doctrine even gave Europeans the right to kill or enslave people who refused to convert to Christianity. This agreement among European nations stated that whichever nation arrived first had the right to explore, colonize and steal the land’s resources. The non-Christian indigenous (native) peoples did not have the right to own the land, only to occupy it.
It’s not just the church that follows this law. The Doctrine of Discovery has been on the U.S. legal books since 1823, when it was approved by a Supreme Court decision. It was still being used in 2005 in a land case against the Oneida Indian Nation of New York who was required to pay property taxes on native lands it had bought back from the city of Sherrill, N.Y.
How can so-called civilized religious organizations and countries stick to a law that blessed the massacre of millions of native people? The U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called for Pope Benedict XVI to revoke and renounce this doctrine in 2006, calling it: "racist," "morally condemnable" and "socially unjust" -- but there was no response. As recently as last week, Pope Francis was also ignoring requests to stop these practices. Why does it continue? Because Pope Francis and the rest of the catholic church want access to native people, children and animals for their evil and greedy practices. We have to stop them.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Steve Sheehan, advocate for survivors and sexually abused children stands up to Roman Catholic Church
Interview with Steve Sheehan
Q: Steve, You have been a crusader fighting for justice for the children and adults sexually abused by the Roman Catholic Church. How long have you been doing this and why did you start?
A: I have been working as an advocate for over twelve years. On January 6, 2002 the Boston Globe broke the story of the cover up of sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston. At that time I became a member of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) a group whose mission is to reform the Catholic Church. VOTF helped people realize that Cardinal Bernard Law was responsible for the cover up in Boston and this increased the pressure on him to resign from the church.
In July 2002 there was a convention of VOTF at the Hynes Auditorium in Boston. David Clohessy from SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, www.snapnetwork.org ) was there, as was Tom Doyle (a priest and long-time advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse) and Jason Berry, a writer since the 1980's on the abuse cover up.
Immediately following the convention there was a meeting (demonstration) of survivors and advocates at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston which included three survivors who had spoken at the auditorium. The survivors told their stories and the last to speak finished by saying that she had always felt terribly alone. She opened her arms and said, "I'll never feel alone again." I decided that, if I could help it, the survivors would never be alone again.
On the following Sunday the survivors were standing on the sidewalk in front of the Church. I hesitated to join them because I had never been abused myself; I had no money to give them and was not a psychologist. I didn't know if a survivors group would want me to join them. I almost drove away but then I decided to say hello. I couldn't believe how happy they were for me to join them. They said they just wanted me to stand with them and to believe them.
Q: Steve, you've been involved in other demonstrations and with other organizations, what else do you do to help survivors?
A: In Massachusetts there was no effective Child Endangerment Law which made it difficult to indict Cardinal Law. But in New Hampshire there was such a law. I went to Manchester, NH where Bishop John McCormack (whom we called “safe house” Jack) was moving rapist priests from one parish to another. He had previously served as a top aide to Cardinal Law in Boston. McCormack made a deal with the Attorney General that he would turn over 9,000 pages of diocese documents and in return was granted immunity from prosecution. Every Sunday for a year we stood on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral calling for his resignation. McCormack resigned in 2010.
I also went around to churches where there were known abusers. I still participate in a vigil with the group STTOP at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross which has met every Sunday from 2002 to now.
Photo: STTOP group with Steve Sheehan in plaid suit
Q: What is STTOP? ( http://sttop.org/index.htm )
A: STTOP (Speak Truth to Power) was formed in response to revelations of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. The group has weekly vigils in front of the cathedral in Boston and periodically in front of local churches where credibly accused priests have been reassigned.
Photo: Demonstration in front of St. Brendans, Steve Sheehan in center
Comment: STTOP demonstrated in November 2002 in Washington, D.C. at the annual Catholic Bishops Conference. Steve and others demonstrated in front of their hotel; they had signs. The bishops tried to ignore the STTOP demonstrators but when they had to go out for dinner, the only way to get to the bus transporting them was past STOPP. The bishops hurried by but they wouldn't make eye contact.
Q: You also belong to the NSAC, a national survivor advocate group, tell us about that group.
A: In Feb 2009, the NSAC (National Survivor Advocates Coalition) was formed and I became the newsletter editor for the group. http://nationalsurvivoradvocatescoalition.wordpress.com
This group promotes justice for survivors of sexual abuse -- especially by any clergy from any and all religious institutions. NSAC sent me to Ireland for the SNAP international conference and also sent a survivor from Africa. When Bishop Finn was convicted in Kansas City for withholding evidence, I went there with NSAC where there was a press conference for local media.
Photo: NSAC demonstration in Kansas City
Q: You are also a member of SNAP. How did you come to join this group? www.snap-network.org
A: In 2002, David Clohessy came to Boston several times. At that time a person had to be a survivor to join SNAP, so I asked David about it and he said that of course I could be a member, so I joined SNAP. I have been working with them ever since. I attend SNAP survivor meetings and their annual meeting and advocate for survivors.
Comment: Anyone who knows what the church has done to children, who knows about the torture and abuse is also psychologically abused by this knowledge and is a victim.
Photo: George Barilla and Steve Sheehan at SNAP meeting in Chicago 2014
Q: Steve, do you work with any group to help change sexual abuse laws?
A: I work with CORSAL, the Coalition to Reform Sex Abuse laws in Massachusetts. This group helps raise awareness and works with legislators to help pass bills that will help survivors. Carmen Durso, a Massachusetts attorne (who represents numerous survivors) chairs this group. I have testified before a joint subcommittee on revising the statute of limitations law. Recently the law was changed to allow survivors time to testify against their perpetrators until 53 years of age. (www.corsal.org )
Q: When they demonstrate, why do the survivors carry photos of themselves when they were children?
A: When people look at adult survivors, some think, “Why didn't you do something to stop the abusers? Why couldn't you get help?” Well, when they see the photos of the victims as children they realize that the abuse happened to young children who were helpless and frightened – not to the adult they now are. Then they understand how horrible the crimes are.
Q: Steve, what can you say to the survivors reading this blog, many of whom are still feeling that they are alone – and to the supporters of these survivors?
A: No two survivors are alike. Each is in his or her own path toward healing. If possible, survivors should find a way to share their personal abuse story with others as a step in healing. One way (but not the only way) is to join a SNAP survivor meeting group. Supporters must listen to these stories and reassure the survivors that they are believed and will be supported in their healing journey. Our goal is to support current survivors and to protect the children who remain so vulnerable.
Comment: I and other survivors appreciate what Steve does. We hope more advocates will follow his lead in his quest to help survivors and protect the children.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Archbishop rapes Dominican children and gets away with it: Pope Francis where is your zero tolerance policy?
For the first time, according to the New York Times, a top Vatican ambassador — a personal envoy of the pope — has been accused of sexual abuse of minors.
Sneaking around Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in black track pants and a baseball cap, he would walk along the oceanfront promenade where poor shoeshine boys worked and lure them down to the rocky shoreline or to a deserted monument for a local Catholic hero. The boys say he gave them money to perform sexual acts.
They never knew his identity until his picture was front page local news and after he was suddenly recalled to Rome: Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
Before the Vatican shipped him out, a local video crew got a tip about the stealthy molester and went to film him – he then disappeared from the waterfront. According to Dominican law enforcement authorities Wesolowski began sending a young Dominican church deacon to procure children for him.
The deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, was arrested by the police on June 24, 2013, accused of solicitation of minors, and jailed. Although Reyes wrote to Wesolowski he was ignored and left in jail. In his letter Reyes said, “We have offended God” and the church by sexually abusing children and adolescents “for crumbs of money.”
We all remember the recent claims of Pope Francis, who called child sexual abuse “such an ugly crime” and pledged to move the Roman Catholic Church into an era of “zero tolerance.” For priests and bishops who have violated children, he told reporters in May, “There are no privileges.”
Was he punished? Wesolowski received “the harshest penalty possible under the church’s canon law short of excommunication: he was defrocked by the Vatican. What terrible punishment for him! How does that help the abused children? What justice do they get? The Vatican says that it intends to try Wesolowski on criminal charges — we know what a great job they do policing themselves. What about criminal prosecution in a real court of law like any other criminal? What about sending him back for a jail sentence in the Dominican Republic?
It didn’t happen because the church, acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Wesolowski so he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic. Diplomatic immunity ensures that diplomats like the serial pedophile Wesolowski cannot be sued or prosecuted in the country where they committed crimes and are given safe passage back home. This is a failure of justice for the sexually abused children.
Has the church changed? Is there still a culture of accepted and covered up child abuse? Where are the authorities? The United Nations recently condemned the Vatican’s behavior in handling child sex abuse cases – will they say something? If the Roman Catholic Church is serious about dealing with child sexual abuse they need to revoke Wesolowski’s diplomatic immunity, return him to Dominican Republic, and give authorities the evidence to convict him. We don’t know if Vatican representatives are committing the same crimes against children in other countries, but their failure to turn over Wesolowski to local authorities ensures that such crimes will be repeated over and over while pope francis ensures us how much he cares about the children.
Saturday, August 9, 2014
An article in the Washington Post (originally reported by Lilly Fowler, the religion reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 6, 2014) talked about the “rising popularity of the Latin Mass.” Because pope Francis has not been wearing some of the fancy garments that previous popes (like pope benedict) wore, some Roman Catholics were worried that Francis wouldn’t be saying the old Latin Mass – called the Tridentine Mass -- and that not saying it was threatening traditional worship.
But the Latin Mass, not much celebrated for the last few decades is “alive and well”. In fact, according to the Post, “a throwback movement is growing, in many cases with young people leading the charge.” There is even a Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, a nonprofit based in Glenview, Ill., that promotes the Latin Mass. There is a slow but steady rise in the practice, with more than 400 churches offering the Latin mass today.
This is really dangerous. Why? Because the Tridentine Mass has long been associated with anti-Semitism and Nazis – including neo-Nazis. I previously posted information about this Mass (9/14/13 and 5/20/14) because many people do not know the history. There are others who do know the history and promote this Mass for their own agendas.
Back in 2011 Nicole Winfield reported (09/16/11 Huffington Post) that Jewish groups were worried about the vatican’s relationship with a group of Catholics, including a bishop, Richard Williamson, who denies that the Holocaust ever happened -- that Nazi gas chambers were used for mass killing. This Swiss-based society of st. pius X (SSPX) believes that Christ's death was the fault of all Jews. They favor the Tridentine Mass because it includes a prayer that asks God to lift the veil so they [Jews] may be delivered from their darkness.
The real darkness is in the black heart of this neo-Nazi society and popes who support it: Benedict who said SSPX could come back into the “fold” without having to give up their beliefs and lifted Williamson’s excommunication; and Francis gave indications that he might welcome SSPX back by supporting a Pontifical Commission called Ecclesia Dei, which has tried to lead the SSPX flock back into the fold.
SSPX allows convicted Nazi war criminals to be buried in their church cemeteries. In the 1990s the group had harbored Nazi collaborator and war criminal Paul Touvier. Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, one of Rome’s top dogs, wrote a letter to SSPX priests, pleading for “reconciliation and healing.”
SSPX is a growing danger because they have six seminaries, three universities and 70 primary and secondary schools around the globe. In addition to Williamson it has three other bishops, more than 550 priests and 200 priests in training. Are they training to incite another Holocaust? Pope Francis doesn’t talk about the real issues -- these skeletons in the vatican closet.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
No Excuse for Abuse: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests celebrates 25 years of fighting child abuse by catholic clergy
When victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests first organized into a small band of volunteer activists: the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in the late 1980s, reports of clergy molesting children were still new and relatively few. Most were minimized as “single occurrences” or dismissed altogether — much the way the victims were.
But today, as SNAP, marks its 25th anniversary at a conference in Chicago (Aug. 1-3), its members can take satisfaction in seeing that its claims have been validated, and that a few (though hardly all) of its recommendations have been implemented by the church hierarchy. (www.snapnetwork.org)
Because of SNAP’s advocacy on the Catholic scandal, victims now are much more likely to come forward to tell their stories, whether they were abused by clergy, by nuns, by athletic coaches or Boy Scout leaders or others.
SNAP soon developed a core membership of a few thousand people, mainly victims, who met in small support groups while also trying to push the issue onto the public agenda but the public was indifferent or outright hostile.
Then in January 2002, The Boston Globe began its groundbreaking series exposing the widespread abuse of children by priests in the Boston archdiocese, and the cover-up by bishops. The story caught fire and led to similar revelations across the nation and to an unprecedented level of media coverage, prosecutions and lawsuits.
SNAP’s membership took off, and now stands at more than 19,000, with 60 chapters around the U.S. and eight overseas. SNAP spends time and money helping survivors, maintaining support groups and providing costly legal support in cases against the perpetrators.
The 2014 SNAP Annual Conference will be a "reunion" conference on August 1-3, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place hotel in Chicago.
“No Excuse for Abuse” SNAP tee shirts (see photo) will be offered at the Conference for a donation of $15.00 to Boston-Worcester SNAP. The shirts come in adult sizes S, M, L, XL, and XXL. Checks should be made out to the Chapter Director, David O'Regan at 65 Greenville St., Spencer MA. 01562. All funds from the proceeds will help Boston-Worcester SNAP survivors along with helping monthly chapter expenditures.
I encourage all survivors of child sexual and physical abuse to join SNAP as I have – they are kind, supportive people – most are survivors themselves and they understand that together we will survive and thrive and stop the abusers.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
A priest (no name given, see his photo) and his accomplice, a hospital employee, are charged with sexually abusing patients between 2004 and 2010 in several Portuguese hospitals run by a roman catholic order: "The charge relates to the sexual abuse of four patients in the care of institutions run by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God," prosecutors said in a statement this week. One of the hospitals mentioned in the indictment is an institution specialized for the mentally ill.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Beware! The order operates more than 250 medical centers around the world: in Africa, Asia, Australia, all of Europe, Mexico and South America and in the U.S. in Los Angeles and New Jersey. Here we have representatives of the roman catholic church who advertise that they are “a national charity helping vulnerable people to lead fulfilling lives and reach their potential.” Note the word, “vulnerable” – that is just the people these criminals prey upon. They “treat” people with learning and physical disabilities, people with mental health problems, those who have difficulties with drug and alcohol abuse and migrants who are vulnerable to homelessness – all those who cannot defend themselves. They hide behind God and have the nerve to call themselves (in Italian): Fatebenefratelli, meaning "Do-Good Brothers". “Do-Evil” is more like it.
This latest church scandal comes when the Portuguese catholic church is already under fire for the case of another priest named Luis Miguel Mendes. He was sentenced in 2013 to ten years in prison for the sexual abuse of six minors aged between 13 and 15.
A good example of how the Saint John of God “brothers” operate is what they did in New Zealand.
Marylands School which taught pupils with learning difficulties in Christchurch, New Zealand was the scene of a high-profile scandal with sexual charges made against three members of the order. By 2006, the Australasian branch of the Saint John of God order had paid out $5.1 million to survivors who had been sexually abused at the school. Over 120 complaints were made in regard to sexual and physical abuse that occurred at the school, most in the 1970s.
Bernard Kevin McGrath, a Saint John of God brother, age 65, received 21 guilty verdicts, pleading guilty to only one charge of sexually abusing boys. There were nine victims aged between 7 and 15 at the School where McGrath was a teacher and housemaster. The five-year jail term he got produced an angry reaction from people packing the High Court in Christchurch: "Die, you ... priest," said one man. "What a waste of time," said another as McGrath was led away to the cells. A man who had been at Marylands and knew the nine men McGrath had abused, said: "I'm not too impressed. This sentence is not going to bring closure for the boys." The manager of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, Ken Clearwater, said he was in shock. "Five years is a joke. For what that man's done, it's an insult to the victims. I know there will be a lot of men hurting out there at the moment. I hope they have supports in place to help them get through this."
McGrath had two earlier prison terms - three years in Christchurch in 1993 and nine months in Sydney, Australia for similar offending – the church knew this and kept supporting him. The judge was skeptical of his current claims of remorse. It was determined that McGrath had not made full admissions in 1993 and had received a two-year "discount" on his sentence for his phony “full and frank” admissions of guilt. "You were there to be their protector. In truth you were their abuser," said the judge. "They had nowhere to turn, no one to go to. It is no wonder they reacted in such a distressing way when they gave evidence."
Before the sentencing, the church had McGrath attending a sex offenders' course in the United States and another offenders program New Zealand. It is common knowledge that sexual offenders are never cured by such programs or by any type of therapy – even castration. Once a rapist, always a rapist. But the church persists in useless actions like these and just moves the “cured” offender to the next parish where he resumes raping. "I don't think you should ever be placed, or allow yourself to be placed, in the situation where you are with young people," said the judge. Crown prosecutor Kerryn Beaton said McGrath's sexual abuse had been marked by violence, threats and sometimes cruelty.
In 2008 another brother Roger Maloney, head of the Marylands School, was found guilty of seven sex abuse charges. After being extradited from Australia, he was jailed for three years for committing sex offenses. After serving 13 months of a 33-month sentence he was paroled and accepted back into the Australian branch of the Order of St John of God. A former member of the order's professional standards committee, psychologist Michelle Mulvihill, said the return of Maloney was "shocking". About taking care of Maloney, Mulvihill said, “The order will do that in secure, safe accommodation, where he will live in supervised retirement." Mulvihill doubts Maloney will be kept under observation. "There will be no supervision for him. The idea it is like some kind of lockup is just silly. The only rule will be not to talk to the media," she said.
Another brother, Raymond John Garchow was given a stay of proceedings relating to eight charges over the sexual abuse of boys because he was too ill to stand trial.
So the scenes are repeated: rape and abuse of children by clergy and cover up by the church, light sentences and support in retirement for even the worst offenders. Do we believe pope francis when he says he is doing something about the clergy abuse problem? It doesn’t ring true. Francis will meet with abuse victims – how does that help the hundreds of thousands of children and women and helpless people still being abused all over the world? As the vatican always does, there are many meetings and commissions but no results. The abuse continues.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Every spring the American bishops meet at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As usual, protecting children is not a key initiative for the bishops. The chairman of their National Review Board stated that the church "continues to slowly make progress" on the child abuse issue. Although urged not to be so untroubled about clergy sexual abuse of minors, the bishops spoke little of holding one another accountable for failures in protecting children.
Besides their lack of concern about the children, they invited a controversial speaker: W. Bradford Wilcox, co-author of an article in the Washington Post about violence against women. Wilcox, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia outraged every major publication on the Internet by saying that one way to end violence against women is for women to stop sleeping around and get married. Sounds like a ridiculous statement but maybe this is what bishops want to hear. They don’t want to hear that the problem is actually abusive men, not unmarried women.
Said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, “We're saddened but not surprised that America's bishops have invited a man to speak to them who minimizes and mischaracterizes abuse.”
Bishops often consult with questionable "experts," like Paul McHugh who said “I believe that the belligerent frenzy characteristic of media reports on priestly sexual abuse has done much damage and needs to stop." The bishops liked him so much they put McHugh on their first National Review Board overseeing the pedophile priest crisis.
McHugh previously testified on behalf of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a priest A. Joseph Maskell, who were sued in 1995 by two women who claimed the priest raped them in the 1970s as high school students. The women sought an exemption to the statute of limitations on such lawsuits, arguing that post-traumatic stress disorder prevented them from recalling the rape for 20 years. McHugh discounted the scientific validity of such recovered memory of sexual abuse. The Maryland Court of Appeals sided with McHugh.
When the bishops do think about the abuse crisis, it’s about the priests, not the victims. They send accused predator priests to therapists like Father Benedict Groeschel, who said in 2012: “In many cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 is the seducer.” He made the comments while being interviewed by the National Catholic Register who later removed the interview from their website. Groeschel even had sympathetic words for convicted Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky: “Here’s this poor guy Sandusky. It went on for years. Interesting. Why didn’t anyone say anything?”
The bishops have a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People but when someone asked the chairman of their conference whether all of the bishops are implementing it in their dioceses, the chairman said, "We are not able to say that."
If we are judged by the company we keep it is easy to see who the bishops are—self-serving, misogynists, sympathizers with child rapists and defenders of criminal clergy. They have a long heritage of putting themselves and the church first at the expense of children, families and God.