Saturday, February 6, 2016

#Spotlight is just the beginning of the end for the #CatholicChurch

On Friday, February 5th, TV news station WCVB.TV in Boston aired the first part of an  rendering by investigative reporter Mike Beaudet on the treatment of survivors of Catholic Church clergy/nun abuse.    The Church says it is helping survivors by paying for psychotherapy – it makes them look good.  But just like the statements that all children are now safe from clergy pedophiles – helping survivors is another cover up. 

Survivors, many of who are suicidal, or alcohol/drug addicted are made to go through a process that makes them victims all over again.  Survivors have to go to the Diocese “outreach” office – a place where priests and their lawyers walk the hallways, where their black autos fill the parking lot, where reminders of who the abusers are hit you wherever you look and walk.  Then survivors have to re-tell their horrific stories of the abuse to lay person intake clerks who are more concerned with filling out forms than caring about what happened.  Then, the survivor has to wait for weeks or longer to find out if they are approved for therapy by the perpetrators who are the cause of the need for this therapy.

Many get turned away because the requirements for approval are purposely made difficult to get, especially by survivors who are suffering every minute of the day.  Having to remember names of abusers, dates, and places is often too traumatic for a survivor to endure.  Some get approval for psychotherapy but often it is too little too late.  Once a week may be approved when a survivor who, for the first time has talked about the abuse and needs therapy more often. The approval has to be given every year and this holds a sword over the heads of survivors who worry they will be cut off.

Years ago, in Boston, the Attorney General recommended that there be an independent survivors review board but the church ignored it – because they can.  They have enough money (taken from parishioners) to pay high priced lawyers and lobbyists to stonewall the authorities and change laws.

Look at the video and listen to the survivors – there is an overwhelming amount of evidence of yet another church coverup and much material for the next “Spotlight” movie. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#SNAP supports whistleblower #catholicpriest

Members of SNAP support Fr. Gallagher

Update: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, gathered on the sidewalk near the Diocese of Palm Beach to support Father Gallagher who was demoted after he exposed a pedophile priest (see yesterday's post).

 "Instead of being praised for protecting a child victim of sexual abuse, it seems as though the Bishop and the Church are punishing the ones who are doing the right thing," SNAP member David Pittman told CBS12 reporter Al Pefley .  "I was told I that I had a choice of either taking a demotion or to resign from priesthood. Those were my options," said Gallagher.  SNAP* is calling for an investigation to make sure there was no cover-up.  The Diocese has not commented.

*SNAP is an advocate for child and adult sexual abuse survivors of any religion or organization.

Monday, January 25, 2016

#CardinalO’Malley tells whistleblower #catholicpriest to get lost

Father Gallagher
Father John Gallagher, a priest from West Palm Beach says the Catholic Church is trying to force him out because he blew the whistle on a pedophile priest.  When Gallagher found out that one of his priests, Jose Palimatton, had shown child pornography to a teenage boy, he reported it to the Diocese of Palm Beach. But he says they didn't want to hear it.

"When I made the initial phone call to the Diocese, I was told we are used to this, we normally put people like this on an airplane," Gallagher said.  The head of the Diocese, Bishop Gerald Barbarito, told Gallagher that he didn't want to know the details of the crime.  So Gallagher called the sheriff's office. Palimatton was arrested, pleaded guilty, got 6 months in jail and was deported back to India.

Since then, the church has treated Gallagher like an outcast:  while he was out on medical leave, the Diocese removed all his possessions from the rectory where he lived and changed the locks on the door.   When he tried to tell Cardinal Sean O'Malley in Boston – who is on Pope Francis’ committee to stop clergy crime, O'Malley told him to take a very long vacation – and this was in back in October, 2015.

"And what did you take that to mean?" asked CBS12 reporter Al Pefley. "That means what it means. Go away," Gallagher explained. Even though the police wrote a letter to Cardinal Sean O'Malley in Boston, commending Gallagher for his actions, O’Malley ignored him.  The Diocese of Palm Beach of course, denied they were harassing Gallagher and said he went on medical leave “freely on his own”. 

Is it any wonder that more whistleblower priests don’t come forth? Pope Francis with O’Malley as head of his sex abuse commission -- that has done nothing to help the abused for three years -- is doing what comes naturally for the catholic church: stonewalling, denying, covering up and continuing the abuse.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A pope and a priest: brothers in crime in the catholic church

Joseph and Georg

In my book, “Smothered” in 2012 I wrote a letter to the former pope Benedict (Joseph Ratzinger). I said:

“You are truly evil. It runs in your family. Your older brother Georg Ratzinger, a priest and choirmaster worked in two schools for boys. (Georg is pronounced: GAY-org, with 'org' as in 'organization'). He admitted that he smacked children and that he knew that priests were molesting the boys and did nothing about it. What other reason would he have to purposely smack children who were raped except to keep them quiet?”

A new investigation of brother Georg began in 2015.  As reported by Walter Einenkel   (Daily KOS, 1/12/16) at least 231 children were abused during former Pope Benedict XVI's brother's watch.  Georg Ratzinger led the Regensburger Domspatzen choir for 30 years while these children were being abused.

Lawyer Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned by the choir to look into accusations of beatings, torture and sexual abuse, said that the actual abuse affected even more children than the 231. When asked whether Georg Ratzinger, who conducted the Regensburg choir from 1964 to 1994, knew about the abuse, Mr. Weber said, “After my research, I must assume so.” Most of the abuse was done by Johann Meier, director of the school connected with the choir between the years 1953 until 1992. Meier has since died. Weber said at least 40 of the 231 abuse cases also involved sexual violence, “from fondling to rapes.” Most cases are too old for legal action now, he said.

Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI was the Archbishop of Munich from 1977 until 1981, when he went to head up the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, one of the branches of the Church that dealt with priestly sexual abuse.

Joseph Ratzinger understood better than most that priestly abuse was a crime that went against everything the Church was supposed to stand for. But, for much of his career, he spent his time doing everything but stopping the clergy abuse of children. At the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was too busy disciplining anyone who dared step out of line with Church teachings on personal sexuality and family planning to think about the thousands of priests molesting children.

The church traditionalists wish for the good old days when the pope’s authority was unquestioned, civil authorities treated the church with extreme deference, and parishioners obeyed without objection. They ignore the facts that those good old days were also a time when children were slapped, beaten, and often sexually abused, and  bishops, parents, and police looked away.  These “good old days” are still going on for all the priests and nuns who got away with these crimes, those still committing these crimes and for the bishops, cardinals and the pope who know what is going on but do not stop it.  Pope Francis can stop it but will talk with no action as long as the faithful put up with his lies.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Boston vigil for clergy abuse victims ends because Pope Francis protects criminals

Jane Braunsky (right) spoke to Paul Kellen after she attended Mass on Sunday
In January 2002, after the Boston Globe Spotlight Team published the first story detailing the church’s attempt to cover up the abuse of children by priests, a dedicated and courageous group of people started a 14 year vigil for the abused children.

Every week, in in sleet, snow, rain, and heat, members of the group were there outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston – they never missed a week. They protested the Catholic Church’s poor response to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

“I’ve decided that, after 14 years, the church is not going to change,” Kenneth Scott, 76, said as he staged his final protest with five others huddled under umbrellas.  He will still support and help the victims but will find other ways. 

Brian Harlow

 Brian Harlow, a 41-year-old North Cambridge resident and survivor of clergy sexual abuse, came Sunday to express his gratitude to the protesters, who stand silently on the sidewalk and hold signs displaying the photos of abuse victims. “I’m just so grateful,” he said. “They didn’t have to do this. They just care. They’re the most amazing people you’d ever hope to meet.”

The protesters decided to quit after Pope Francis praised American bishops in September for their “courage” in dealing with the abuse scandal – causing outrage from victims for his insensitive and cold comment.  Francis supported all the bishops still working for the church and still unpunished for their criminal cover ups of pedophile priests.

“The pope’s message last fall was disheartening, discouraging, dismaying,” said Paul Kellen, a 79-year-old from Medford, “I don’t see any hope.”

What do the parishioners at the cathedral, which serves as the mother church of the Archdiocese of Boston think about the protesters? Some shout at them, some thank them. But too many just don’t get it:  the fact that children are still in harm’s way, pedophile priests are still being moved from parish to parish and molesting children every day, that bishops are still covering up for their criminal clergy, that all over the world millions of victims lead lives that are ruined – all at the hands of a church, of a pope, that hides behind God and does the work of the devil.

Here is a typical parishioner, Kim Curry, who said to the Boston Globe reporter,  Michael Levenson, that she sees the protesters after Mass and is not sure why they are demonstrating. “We’re all aware what happened,” she said. “What is it that they want done?”  How about putting all the criminal clergy and their enabler bishops in jail!

Another parishioner, Jane Braunsky, said she, too, is not sure what they want. “Apologies have been made, bishops have made them, both popes have made them, the cardinal has certainly mentioned it during his sermons, if they had listened,” she said. “I’m not sure what more can be done. So, if they’re Christian, they should say, ‘OK, we’ll take that as an apology and go forth and live.’”

Does an apology take away the memories of being raped by a “man of God”, of being beaten and smothered into a coma by nuns – like I was? Does it bring back my brother who committed suicide because of what they did to us.  Does it take away a lifetime of disability, of lost ability, of daily flash-backs?  Does it help other victims who became alcoholics, drug-addicts and committed suicide?  If these parishioners are really Christians, they will demand justice for the abused and protection for the children now being abused by a church and a pope who do nothing to stop it. It’s time to show the Holy Cross protesters that their years of trying were not in vain.  If the church won’t do anything to help then tell it what to do by walking away with your contributions in your pocket – not in the church’s bank account where they will use it to bail out criminal clergy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Police arrest pedophile catholic priest in Calabria: bishop cover up deja-vu

Antonello Tropea: Priest or Pervert? 
In Gioia Tauro, a poor city in Calabria, Italy catholic priest Antonello Tropea was caught using the gay dating app Grindr for teen sex. Under investigation for two months, police surprised him inside a car parked in a secluded area. Tropea was with an underage boy who said Tropea paid him $21 for oral sex -- a fee they had agreed on WhatsApp after meeting on Grindr. A police search of the clergy house uncovered much evidence, including child porn images and message exchanges on email and Tropea’s smartphone with the boy and other teenagers. Also confiscated were 16g of marijuana and sex toys.

Tropea's bishop Francesco Milito is also under investigation for allowing such behavior. He knew about accusations against Tropea for some time but did not take any action. According to court papers two parishioners had warned Milito of Tropea’s deviant activity months ago. Milito dismissed the accusations as "nuns' chatter" in a phone conversation with Tropea that was taped by police according to the Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper. When Tropea was being investigated, the bishop openly advised him "not to talk with Carabinieri police" about the issue.

Tropea was organizing dates with teens on Grindr while pretending to be a sales rep - named Nicholas after the patron saint of his parish, San Nicola di Mira. Most of the encounters took place in Tropea’s car but he also met with some boys at his church rectory.

Luring minors for paid sex, buying pornography and drugs, using a phony name taken from a saint -- would you want this priest to baptize your baby, give you communion, or be alone with your child? Would you want bishop Milito to cover-up for this pervert and lie to police about it? Again we see what the church clergy does with parishioners’ money. Don’t support an organization that abuses children – there may be another Tropea in your parish.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Shining the “Spotlight” on Pope Francis and his coverup crew

“Spotlight” the movie that reveals how a team of reporters exposed the child abusers in the Catholic church in 2002, is giving the U.S.  -- and soon the World a wake-up call.    Survivors of abuse by priests are coming forward in large numbers to talk about that abuse - some for the first time. They are contacting survivor advocacy organizations, hotlines, and the media – because the movie gives them courage and credibility.   

It has been 13 years since the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team first revealed that in Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law covered up for Fr. John Geoghan a serial sexual abuser of children and let him keep working. Since then, the scandal spread to more than 100 cities in the U.S. and at least 100 more cities around the world.  The Globe wrote 600 stories on priest sexual abuse in 2002. Because the problem did not go away after 250 priests and brothers were accused in Boston, the Globe and other news media continued their quest for pedophile priests and their enablers. Today, more than a decade after American bishops pledged to better protect young people from sexual abuse, the abuse scandal is still not over. Bishops in Kansas City and Minneapolis were recently removed from their posts for continuing to cover up for abusive priests.

Michael Rezendes, one of the original Spotlight reporters who broke the story hasn’t stopped his investigative reporting of church abuse. The Globe has continued to hold the church accountable for its actions regarding clergy sexual abuse.

In 2014, the Globe reported that a prominent American cleric named by Pope Francis to prosecute cases of priestly abuse was himself involved in the coverup of child sexual abuse.  Pope Francis named the Jesuit, Fr. Robert Geisinger, formerly the head of the Chicago Jesuits, to be the Vatican’s top prosecutor for serious crimes, including raping and molesting children. The Globe reported that Geisinger had extensive knowledge for years about a serial sexual abuser within the Jesuit order, a Fr. Donald McGuire (who is now in prison), but allowed him to continue in the Jesuit ministry.

The Internet helped spread the Spotlight Team’s stories worldwide, prompting lawsuits, investigations by other news organizations, and complaints from thousands of victims.  This exposure is “catching” since survivors in other religions and in non-religious places like schools, organizations for boys and girls –anywhere children are supervised by adults -- are also speaking out.

While the movie is making more people aware of the abuse there is still much work to do if we are to really protect the children.  We need to vote so that politicians will stop helping the church and other religious and public organizations to keep statute of limitation laws on the books in so many states. Clergy abuse — which the church once silenced by settling with victims and swearing them to secrecy — has cost the Catholic Church in America $4 billion since 1950 in settlements, therapy for victims, and other cost – so they are motivated to keep survivors from suing them.

Since the movie opened, bishops are all making statements --Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston and a top adviser to Pope Francis on clergy sexual abuse policy, was among the first to speak up. He said the church must continue to seek forgiveness from victims and to make amends. But Terry McKiernan of Bishop Accountability, an organization that tracks the abuse crisis, said the bishops have failed to fully address issues related to the abuse crisis that remain unresolved.

The bishops could have agreed to make lists of abusive priests available nationwide said Terry. Only about 30 of the 178 dioceses have done so, he said. Although the Boston diocese provided a list, advocates complain it is incomplete. More than 2,400 abusive priests nationwide have never been named, Terry said, and it is impossible to know how many are still living.

“In a way, the movie is all about that issue: Who are these men who have done these things, how many are there, what are their names? Where have they worked? What have they done? It’s all about making a list,” he said. “I think it’s such an obvious thing to address for the bishops, especially those who haven’t made a list yet.”  The bishops are all getting on the “we’re sorry” bandwagon but don’t talk about the failures where bishops are doing the same coverups as in Kansas City, Mo. and Minneapolis.

If the church really wanted to do something they would do what Terry says, publish the lists of all pedophile priests – and also of the bishops who covered up for them. The pope should take responsibility for his employees and what they do --  if he doesn’t, he is an enabler of child abuse. He should be outraged at what was done and is still being done to children. He makes saints of pedophile enablers and spends his time worrying about climate issues rather than saving the children and helping those already devastated by the abuse.

We thank everyone who made the movie possible and encourage you to see the movie and tell everyone you know about it.  It is only when evil hits the “Spotlight” that we can stop it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pope’s PR Paid by Parishioners

From: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

Finding Survivors

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal, it should now be apparent to every Catholic in the United States that the Roman Catholic Church is fully capable of initiating and funding a massive public relations campaign with top drawer talent when it wishes.

Here is the link to the Journal's new story that will fill you in on how the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) used a campaign of social media to promote Pope Francis and his recent trip to the United States.

Take a listen to the USCCB communication's officer:

"This is certainly a new area for the church and a place we felt we needed to be to reach those we weren't able to reach before," said James Rogers, USCCB's chief communications officer.

And it's impressive whom and what the USCCB used to make its connections, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

The campaign included outreach to 120 influencers, such as Ms. (Bette) Midler, and 1,300 others on social media in both English and Spanish, as well as the creation of real-time videos, GIFs and other content. With the papal visit, USCCB wanted to shift from a "model of broadcast communication" to a more engaging dialogue in real time, Mr. Rogers said.

We agree. We believe that the Church needs to reach those that it hasn't been able to reach before - and in large number that's the sexual abuse survivors and their families.
Enlisting Bette Midler and 199 other "influencers" is a fine place to start the hunt for other survivors of a rapist and sodomizer when there is a survivor who comes forward.

And a fine place to start when a lawsuit is filed.

And a fine place to start when a police report is made.

And a fine place to start when a priest or religious sister or religious brother are placed on administrative leave because of credible allegations of abuse.

 We urge our readers and those who contribute to collection plates to take a look at the website of the firm the bishops employed: and please don't miss Golin's tagline:

 Go All In is our commitment to bravery over mediocrity.

One thing that the Wall Street Journal story doesn't provide is the answer to how much the USCCB paid for Golin's services.

In reality, although the contract was placed by the USCCB, it is Catholics in the pews who paid for Golin's campaign.

The money the USCCB spends comes from the collection plates. The USCCB is funded by assessments on dioceses in the same way as the dioceses are funded by assessing the parishes.  What the USCCB, according to the Journal, was promoting was the "pope's message of goodwill."

It may be difficult for those contributing to the collection plates to understand why bishops felt the need to spend money on "influencers" to promote Pope Francis, one of the all time best communicators of his message.

Maybe not, perhaps those who contribute to collection plates will not think their money was spent as a redundancy. 

The bishops may have been banking, pardon the pun, on the collection plate contributors to replenish the coffers.

Whatever the bishops' motivation and the funders' motivation was, the bishops did undertake the campaign, and they were successful.

And on those grounds we agree with the USCCB communication chief Mr. Rogers and his look forward, "Our task now is to look at how best we can operationalize this."
So, now, let's find those survivors. 
Thank you, Kristine for showing us where the money goes.