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.