|Antonello Tropea: Priest or Pervert?|
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
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
“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
From: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)
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: http://golin.com 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.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Republicans, Catholics and Orthodox Jews block Child Victims Act in NY: Pope Francis ignores Markey’s efforts
Assemblywoman Margaret Markey of NY criticizes the current statute of limitation for prosecuting childhood sexual abuse
Queens Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth), has spent nearly a decade trying to pass a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children The Pope’s “God weeps for the sexual abuse of children” sound bite didn’t go nearly far enough in addressing the church’s role in perpetrating and enabling child abuse.
In an interview in the Times Ledger (Queens, NY, by Gabriel Rom), “Part of the reason church attendance is dwindling,” Markey speculated, “is that they refuse to address the issue of sexual abuse of children. This is an issue that is crying out for attention from voters, too. They want to see justice for victims.”
Markey had invited Francis to meet with members of the New York State Legislature and child abuse victims advocacy organizations and lend support to the bill, known as The Child Victims Act asking him to intervene with New York bishops but there was no response from the Vatican. The NY State Catholic Conference has vigorously opposed the bill, along with several Orthodox Jewish groups, all afraid of how much money they could lose by allowing victims, regardless of age, to bring lawsuits for sexual abuse suffered in childhood.
The bill passed in the Democrat-dominated Assembly four times, but it had never been brought up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. Earlier this year, despite receiving a record number of sponsors, including more than a dozen Republicans, the bill stalled yet again.
“The church knows that in New York state there are dozens or perhaps hundreds of current and former child-molesting employees, and high-ranking church officials who ignored past crimes,” said David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “They don’t want that in the public.”
When they pass this bill, I will be there to point my finger at the criminals who covered up my abuse in upstate New York.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Worcester-Boston Director and Survivor
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Clergy sexual abuse survivors: Protect yourselves and stay strong during Pope’s visit
We speak our truths, and together have caused a crack in the denial dam known as the” Catholic Church Worldwide Sexual Abuse Crisis.” Survivors please keep yourselves safe and stay strong this coming week as the media will be bombarding us with images of adoration and love for the pope who will be visiting Cuba, and America.
We know better, we have our truths at our side, and are not deceived by the pope’s public relations spin to avoid accountability and responsibility by minimizing the global sexual abuse crisis by voicing concern for the environment.
Whether we like it or not, the pope is here. I know to protect myself: I will be avoiding the News on television, and will follow it at my own pace with the newspaper, or online -- putting it down when I’ve had enough. Develop your own strategy, and keep yourself safe.
Survivors let’s be there for each other and support one another. New survivors will emerge as his visit will trigger painful memories that have been suppressed, and they will be looking to us, in need of our help.
So this coming week, I will be thinking of my abuse family, as well as sending out positive vibrations to be strong to every abuse survivor or family member to find new courage, to keep proclaiming our TRUTHS, to crash open the floodgates, and destroy the dam of denial and corruption in the Catholic Church. That will begin to keep children safe.
Be safe my friends.
Worcester-Boston Director and Survivor
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
There are SNAP survivor group meetings in the Boston area and in:
Monday, September 21, 2015
The U.S. government has yet to take a serious stand against Catholic church officials in relation to child sexual assault allegations within the church. (AP file)
By DAVID CLOHESSY • 9/21/15 6:41 AM Washington Examiner
We all need to read this article and contact our Congress person! Thank you David.
It's ironic that Pope Francis will soon speak to the United States Congress, because the U.S. is one of the western democracies that was most hard-hit by the priest sexual abuse crisis and also lacked any federal response to it whatsoever. No federal legislation or regulations or even resolutions were proposed or adopted. There were no congressional hearings. There was no Justice Department investigation. Nothing. Abroad, a number of national and regional governments have conducted investigations and issued reports about this continuing crisis, including Ireland, Australia, Canada and Belgium.
Non-profits, like the Child Rights International Network and Amnesty International, have done investigations. International bodies, like the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee Against Torture, have done investigations,
But since the first U.S. pedophile priest made national headlines 30 years ago (Father Gilbert Gauthe of Lafayette, La.), the federal government has done virtually nothing. There have been two statewide investigations launched by attorneys general in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. There have been 8-10 local jurisdictions that have done grand jury probes. But there's been no action by federal officials at all.
Individual members of Congress have commented on the crisis. In 2005, then-Sen. Rick Santorum, for instance, cited Boston's "liberalism" as a cause of the crisis: "When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected," he said. "While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."
But as a body, no federal U.S. institution has ever taken action about — or even investigated — this horrific, on-going scandal. So why should they now?
Because predator priests are still on the job. (With minimal effort, we've found a dozen.)
Because virtually no bishop who has concealed child sex crimes has been punished.
Only four U.S. bishops have resigned over the past few decades because they've endangered kids. They retain their salaries, titles, honor and power. None have been defrocked, demoted, disciplined or even publicly denounced by top church officials. When wrongdoing is ignored, wrongdoing will likely be repeated. And because these two factors alone mean that children are still not safe inside the church.
What could Congress do? For starters, they could hold hearings and force bishops to answer tough questions under oath about how much they know and how little they're doing about child molesting clerics. That alone might give abuse survivors and their families hope. And it might help deter employers in churches and elsewhere who are hiding predators now or may be tempted to do so in the future.
Federal officials and agencies might tie crime-related funding to state reform of child safety laws. For instance, Justice Department monies might be denied to states that give child sex abuse victims little time to expose predators in court. (We tie highway funds to driving safety measures, like reasonable speed limits. We can do the same with child safety measures.)
Years ago, under George W. Bush, the DOJ established a special unit to pursue charges against hard-core Southern racists who beat and intimidated African-American voters in the 1950s and 1960s. Why not a special task force now targeting predator priests who have hurt kids in one state only to be sent elsewhere, even abroad, to do so again?
The only reason a few predator priests have been charged, convicted and imprisoned is that abuse victims and secular authorities have been courageous, creative and persistent. We in the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests are convinced that if the federal government shows even a scintilla of the bravery that thousands of victims have shown, and a bit of the resourcefulness some local law enforcement staff have shown, real progress could be made in making the Catholic church a more healthy and safe institution — no matter what Pope Francis does or does not do about this continuing crisis.
David Clohessy of St. Louis is the executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
“Man Camps” like this one near Watford City, North Dakota are breeding grounds for abuse against Native Americans.
The Keystone oil pipeline carries oil sands from Alberta, Canada to oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. It runs south through North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. The Keystone XL, is a 1,179-mile shortcut that would go through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Getting oil sands out of the ground requires “fracking” - a process which creates toxic environmental runoff and more air pollution than regular oil drilling. A leak from such a pipeline also causes more environmental damage than a leak from a standard oil pipeline. Much worse than the damage to the land is the damage to the people – especially the Native Americans who live near the pipelines. “Man-camps” – housing set up for pipeline workers are breeding grounds for abuse against Native Americans.
At existing man camps in North Dakota (AP, 1/24/15), the region is already overrun with organized drug operations, sex trafficking and scammers. 'It's not Mayberry anymore,' U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon says of the Wild West mentality taking over the Bakken, ND oil fields.
But it gets worse. Jacqueline Keeler reporting in Indian Country Today (8/19/15) talks about what workers who live in “Man Camps” would do to South Dakota tribes. Three of these camps would be built near territory of the Yankton Sioux, Rosebud Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes. The camps are managed by Target Logistics, which manages 12 such camps in Bakken.
At hearings before the South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission the pipeline builder—the energy giant TransCanada did not show that it could prevent damage that workers might do to residents of the nearby Yankton Sioux Reservation. TransCanada did not consult with local tribes, and there was no plan for dealing with criminal activity that their camp residents might commit. The company’s website quotes Dunn County Sheriff Clayton Coker as saying, “This place is a safe haven. . . . No fights, no thefts, no issues at all in here.”
But reports from Bakken paint a very different picture. There have been triple increases in trafficking, assault, abduction, domestic violence and sex crimes affecting neighboring Native American communities during the oil boom of the past five years.
Annita Lucchesi (Southern Cheyenne), who works for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Council, heard chilling remarks from Bakken workers. “They were saying, ‘Oh yeah, North Dakota is the f—ing best; in North Dakota you can take whatever pretty little Indian girl that you like, and you can do whatever you want, and police don’t give a f— about it ” she told Pacific Standard magazine. “To hear something like that—he was literally talking about kidnapping and raping girls in public at three in the afternoon—that is how bad it is,” said Lucchesi.
Grace Her Many Horses, a former Rosebud Sioux Tribe police chief, witnessed widespread crime when she worked in the Bakken on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. In 2014, she told the Rosebud Sioux newspaper, “We found a crying, naked, four-year-old girl running down one of the roads right outside of the Man Camp. She had been sexually assaulted.” Man-on-man assault was also a problem; she told how a 15 year old boy had gone missing and was found in one of the man camps with an oil worker. They were passing him around from trailer to trailer. “It was scary,” she said.
TransCanada spokesperson Rick Perkins denied complaints about rape or sexual harassment, drugs or human trafficking at man camps run by Target Logistics. Pressed by Yankton Sioux Tribal attorney Jennifer Baker, Perkins testified that in Target Logistics camps prostitution is not prohibited by the company’s code of conduct. Perkin said that neither Target Logistics nor TransCanada requires camp worker background checks for criminal records. Even registered sex offenders can work for the company or live in the camps. Also, the company subsidized training of local police forces so it is not surprising that the police deny any wrongdoing by the company.
Trans Canada is doing nothing to insure that rapes of children and adolescents in the new South Dakota camps will be prevented. This is just another case of those in power, like Pope Francis, priests, nuns and the catholic church – abusing the helpless and buying off the authorities. Who else is sexually abusing children and defenseless adults? Do you have a story to tell? Let me know and I will write your story on this blog.
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/enewsletters/ictweeklyaugust192015-161431 page 6 for full story
Thursday, August 13, 2015
David Clohessy is the St. Louis, Missouri-based national director and spokesman for the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests, the largest and oldest self-help group for victims of clergy molestation in the United States.
What has Pope Francis really done to protect children and help survivors? David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) will tell you in this revealing Q&A (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Q & A on Pope Francis and the abuse/cover up crisis by David Clohessy
Q: Francis has done more about the abuse crisis than his predecessors. Isn't that encouraging?
A: First, we should judge church officials NOT by what their terrible predecessors did but by what responsible officials would do. It's little comfort to a girl who's been raped under Francis to say "Well, under Benedict, there might have been an even smaller chance of your predator being ousted."
Neither Benedict nor Francis has exposed a single child molesting cleric or really punished a single complicit church official. They've made lots of reassuring talk but taken little meaningful action.
Q: But several bishops have been forced out because of abuse. Isn't that good news?
A: We don't think this is true. A tiny handful of bishops (Finn in Kansas City, Nienstedt and Piche in St. Paul) have resigned. Were they forced out? Who knows. Continued Vatican secrecy means that no one can be sure whether they were forced and if so, what the real reason or reasons might have been.
There's nothing new about bishops resigning, while keeping their titles and paychecks and honors. A pope firing bishops would be new. And it would deter wrongdoing. But it didn't happen under Benedict and it isn't happening under Francis.
Q: What about the Paraguay bishop? Francis ousted him.
A: That's true. But within hours, the official papal spokesman said that this move was NOT because the bishop mishandled abuse. (Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano had promoted Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, who has been described by bishops from Switzerland to Pennsylvania as 'dangerous,' 'abnormal,' and 'a serious threat to young people' and against whom a $400,000 settlement was paid.)
The bishop was ousted because he alienated his brother bishops, called them gay in public, etc. (see: http://www.snapnetwork.org/rome_evidence_suggests_bishop_not_ousted_due_to_abuse)
Q: But three US bishops accused of concealing abuse have resigned just this year. Isn't that progress?
A: Again, not a single one of the world's 5,100 bishops found the courage to say "Finn enabled abuse" or "Neinstedt endangered kids." That would have been progress.
Real progress will happen when 1) dozens of complicit bishops are openly defrocked, demoted or at least disciplined and denounced, and 2) Catholic officials say – clearly and publicly – that it's because they enabled or concealed child sex crimes.
We're glad these three aren't in office any more. Their resignations have temporarily made some Catholics and victims feel better. Their resignations, however, are not signs of reform. They are signs that these prelates are so clearly discredited that the Vatican had no choice but to let them step down.
Q:What about the new papal commission?
A: Pete Saunders and Marie Collins are wonderful people. But this panel is based on a deceptive premise: that Vatican officials must "learn more" about abuse and cover up. They don't. They need courage, not information. They've dealt with this crisis for centuries in private and for decades in public. They know what to do.
This panel perpetuates the self-serving myth that Catholic officials need more information. What they need is courage. They usually refuse to do what's right because they are monarchs and like their power and the status quo more than anything else.
Over the past 20 years, thousands of lay people, including dozens or hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims, have sat or still sit on church abuse panels but these panels have produced little if any real reform.
Q: The first-ever Vatican criminal trial will happen soon involving the Polish archbishop. Your thoughts?
A: There is an open, impartial, time-tested process for adjudicating child sex cases. It's called the secular justice system. That's where these cases belong, not in some new, untested, biased, self-serving internal church process. Catholic officials have always fought long and hard to keep child molesting clerics out of the criminal process. This is just the latest iteration of that dangerous pattern.
Q: Francis set up a process to hold complicit bishops accountable. Isn't that progress?
A: No, he has not. He has SAID he'll set up a process. He hasn't done it yet. So at best, this is yet another promise by yet another prelate about yet another procedure that may never be used. And at worst, it's disingenuous.
Again, every pope can oust any bishop for virtually any reason. Pope’s don’t need more processes. (No new procedure was needed to get rid of the Bishop of Bling.)
If history is any guide, this tribunal will likely (and grudgingly and belatedly) be used once or twice – with great fanfare. Then, as public pressure wanes, it will return to "business as usual." (see our June 10 statement on our website)
We believe thousands of Catholic officials are hiding predators, promoting enablers, stonewalling police, destroying documents, deceiving parishioners and playing legal hardball against survivors. So even if a handful of prelates are disciplined, this is a tiny, tiny drop in an enormous ocean of corruption.
If this new "process" results in dozens of complicit bishops being ousted from office, we will be encouraged. But again, there is no shortage of church processes and panels and procedures and protocols.
There IS, however, a shortage of courage by church officials, who still refuse to use the vast power they have to stop, expose and prevent clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
Remember: The pope has virtually limitless power. By now, he could have sacked dozens of complicit bishops. He has, however, sacked no one. Nor has he demoted, disciplined or denounced even one complicit church official – from Cardinal to custodian, because of abuse cover ups. None of his predecessors did either.
So in the face of this widespread denial, timidity and inaction, let's be prudent, stay vigilant and withhold judgment until we see if and how this panel might act.
Imagine a huge oil company that had never disciplined a single manager and won't admit it's drilling offshore. If it sets up an internal panel to recommend possible manager discipline to its CEO, few would get excited.
That's what we have here. Catholic officials have disciplined virtually no one for ignoring, concealing or enabling abuse, anywhere on the planet. And Catholic officials won't admit there are deliberate cover ups, instead disingenuously claiming "mistakes," "oversights," and "miscommunication." Not one Catholic official on the planet found the courage to publicly blast Bishop Robert Finn of Missouri who was convicted of withholding evidence of child sex crimes from the police, even though more kids were hurt as a result of his law-breaking.
If you can't properly name a crisis, you're likely unable to fix it.
Kids need a courageous church culture, not another church committee. Kids need brave behavior by church officials, not more bureaucracy. Kids need church members and staff to bring evidence to prosecutors, not to Vatican officials.
Church officials still fight civil lawsuits, criminal prosecutions, governmental investigations and independent institutions like the United Nations. So at one level, this looks again like an effort to stone-wall secular authorities, saying "Back off. Go away. We're dealing with this internally."
Accountability necessarily involves consequences for wrongdoers. Whether a new, untested, Vatican-ruled process will mean consequences for wrongdoers remains to be seen.
This move will give hope to some. But hope doesn't safeguard kids. Punishing men who endanger kids.. That is not happening. And that must happen – soon – if the church is to be safer.
Q: What would you like to see Francis do?
A: Turn over every document about clerics who commit and conceal child sex crimes to law enforcement. Insist that bishops lobby for, not against, secular legislative reforms to protect kids. And quickly, publicly and harshly fire dozens of complicit bishops.
(Note: on 3/7/13, we listed 20 steps Pope Francis should take in this crisis: http://www.snapnetwork.org/rome_snap_s_20_steps_for_pope_francis
Put the phrase "Francis should" – in quotes – in our website search box and find 28 statements outlining what we'd like to see him do.)
With lightning speed, Francis ousted a German bishop who mismanaged church money. But with glacial speed, Francis ignores bishops who endanger children and protect predators.
He's making major strides in improving church finances, governance, and morale. But he's posturing on abuse and cover ups. He's making nearly no meaningful strides to actually prevent abuse and cover ups.
If anything, Francis' popularity has perhaps made children more vulnerable in the church, because so many people wrongly assume that since Francis seems to be an activist, he must be taking action to stop abuse and cover ups. But he's not.
There are few differences between popes John Paul II, Benedict and Francis. All three apologized to and met with victims, only after horrific disclosures were made that couldn't be ignored. All three, however, have refused to take proven steps to expose those who commit or conceal clergy sex crimes. All three have promoted priests and bishops who have protected predators and endangered kids.
Each new pope has worked harder than his predecessor to convince parishioners, the public and the press that he's "fixing" this crisis. But none of them have taken the kind of clear, strong and decisive public steps needed to really make a difference.
Thank you, David for telling us how cruel, deceptive and ineffective the Pope really is.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
There’s a saying, “birds of a feather flock together” and in this case the birds are different religious groups and what they all do is sexually abuse children. Although Pope Francis and the catholic church are notorious for abusing the most children for the longest time these perpetrators are not alone.
It’s good that the catholic church has had so much press and revelation of what goes on behind closed church doors. Now, the truth about other religious organizations (and Boy Scouts and athletic organizations) is seeing the light:
SNAP, the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests has a new chapter: SNAP-Menno an Anabaptist-Mennonite chapter formed by twelve survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates. One of the founders, longtime victim-advocate Ruth E. Krall, an emerita professor at Goshen (Ind.) College who dedicated decades of her life to understanding and penetrating the deeply hidden plague of sexual abuse among Mennonite clans. Krall wrote a book, The Elephant in God’s Living Room, about Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder’s sexual abuse of women.
Barbara Graber, a former professor at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., is an associate editor of ourstoriesuntold.com, a website devoted to preventing sexualized violence among Mennonites. As a survivor of sexual abuse, Graber was drawn to the “wealth of knowledge and hope” in the SNAP organization. “I was overwhelmed with emotion walking into a room of several hundred survivors who had, like me, been sexually violated by the same persons who taught us about God and were members of our faith community,” Graber says about the 2014 SNAP annual conference.* There are other SNAP chapters for Presbyterians, Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, children of missionaries, Orthodox Christians and Boy Scouts, among others.
2015 Conference Information (July 31-Aug 2 in Alexandria, VA)
Mormons and the Boy Scouts Link
Child molester + Mormons = easy prey
The Sins of Brother Curtis: A Story of Betrayal, Conviction, and the Mormon Church by Lisa Davis is an account of one of the most prolific serial child molesters in the U.S., Frank Curtis. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Curtis was a Sunday School teacher and Boy Scout leader, so he had double access to children. He molested boys in several Portland, Oregon from 1976 to 1991. At a lawsuit trial against the LDS Church is was discovered that bishop had told the victim’s mother that they “knew” Curtis was a pedophile and hadn’t warned the family—that it was discovered that the church had known for years that Curtis was a danger to children. (Sound familiar Pope Francis?) Curtis was excommunicated (for homosexuality rather than pedophilia) then re-baptized and returned to the positions from which he preyed upon children.
So what do the Mormons have to do with Boy Scouts (other than molesting them)? According to Davis while the Boy Scouts of America is a separate entity from the LDS Church, but the Mormon church is the largest single sponsor of the BSA. So almost all Mormon boys are Boy Scouts and many have been molested in both places. So the LDS Church decided that leaders of church Boy Scout troops had to be checked out by the BSA – that’s like asking the fox to watch the chickens.
The LDS must have used the catholic church for a role model: it took so many years before their crimes saw the light of day, there were so many victims, and the church fought a battle to keep it secret and the perpetrator “repented” and was given another chance to have access to children. Like the catholic church, the LDS had the deep pockets and the lawyers to wear the victim’s lawyers down. [The LDS Church’s lawyers] were fighting a war of attrition, in which one side wins just because the other side can’t keep up.
It turns out that Curtis had a criminal record from way back – stealing, armed robbery in the same area where Al Capone did his dirty work. Curtis’ criminal record said that he had inappropriate sexual behavior with boys. There was a clue that was missed. If, in 1929, they say that he’s having sex with young boys, and his last victim was molested in 1991, that’s more than 60 years.
Again, like their counterparts in the catholic church Elders in the Jehovah’s Witness leadership have been covering up child sex abuse. Recently, a group of ex-Jehovah’s Witness members put up a billboard calling out leadership in the church for failing to adequately address sexual abuse — and even for actively covering it up. The billboard points viewers to a website (www.JWAWAKE.com) that offers evidence for the claims. The group hopes for the message to make an impact during upcoming conventions, which thousands will attend.
They want to hold Elders accountable for failing to report sexual abuse. Now, Elders are instructed to only turn over to authorities cases in which there are two witnesses — which means that in addition to the victim, either the perpetrator must confess, or the abuse must have been performed where another church member could witness it — something most sexual predators know how to avoid. They’re asking every Jehovah’s Witness to contact the governing body of the church and call for change -- to call for Elders to be ordered to report every incident, with or without a witness. The billboard will be present through two Jehovah’s Witness conventions on July 31, and August 7. Having the Elders be accountable is a good step to take but direct reporting to the police would be better for the children.
Revelations on Rabbis
It not only Christian denominations sexually abusing children, the Jewish institutions in Israel and in the U.S. do their share of abuse.
In Israel the past week, two men heading religious institutions in Israel were added to the list of sex predators in the religious Jewish world. Rabbi Ezra Scheinberg was caught by police two weeks ago at Ben Gurion airport trying to avoid arrest on charges of rape, sexual harassment and indecent assault. Ten women have come forward – with more expected because the court lifted the ban on releasing his name. Scheinberg, 47, married with eight children raped women who came to him for spiritual counseling, and told the women it was part of their healing treatment. (We’ve heard that story before).
One of his victims said, “After all these years of your intimidations, we are no longer scared. Your scare-tactics no longer work on us….If you had one drop of integrity of justice, of truth you would ask for our forgiveness. But your heart was always made of stone.” Scheinberg’s students, originally shocked, threw his books in a big trash can, and staff are calling him “an abomination.
Just like Pope Francis and his bishops, the Chief Rabbi Eliyahu, was the cover for abusive rabbis. Dr. Hannah Kehat, one of the founders of a group established by Orthodox activists to investigate complaints of sexual abuse within the religious sector, said Eliyahu “waged terror against any woman who dared to complain.” The victims were called liars in public and learned that rabbis support the offender and not them.
Like their catholic counterparts, many rabbis advise and encourage victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families to not report these crimes to the police. They believe that incidents of child sexual abuse should be addressed internally, led by the rabbi. To keep victims from going to the police, they defend the perpetrators saying “he has a wife and children so why make his entire family suffer?”, “the abuse happened many years ago,” “it was a moment of weakness,” “he’s a righteous, God-fearing person,” “you’ll be bringing shame on you, your family and our community,” “you’ll ruin your marriage prospects,” and so on.
Because of the closed Orthodox society there is greater opportunity for abuse and cover-ups – for example, having large families, use of male mikveh (ritual bath-house), limited or no sexual education, desire to protect the reputations of leaders/rabbis and institutions, isolated communities that often reject the use of mainstream law enforcement, the existence of extreme taboo/stigma etc. Some experts believe that around 50% of Hassidic boys in Brooklyn are sexually abused. Much of the community is in denial but like the catholic church, exposure will wake up the faithful.
Monday, July 6, 2015
Thirty years of the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Barbara Blaine, founder of SNAP talks to the National Catholic Reporter
Barbara Blaine, holding a photo of herself as a child, protests at the Vatican in April 2005. (ZUMA Press/La Presse/Mauro Scrobogna)
This week the National Catholic Reporter is running a series about 30 years of child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. It is a series worth reading. The first article is the sad but empowering story of Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Barbara says, “A single issue of NCR changed the course of my life and eventually led to my starting an international movement of survivors of clergy abuse. I am extremely grateful to NCR!” Please read the whole series – the more people who read this story, the safer children will be all over the world.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
|Cardinal George Pell|
The Royal Commission in Australia has been investigating how institutions like schools, churches and sporting groups handle child sexual abuse cases. In the spotlight currently is Cardinal George Pell. Pell has been under fire since allegations that he turned a blind eye to abuse resurfaced last week at the royal commission into child sexual abuse in Ballarat, Victoria. Pell has been accused of bribing abused victims to keep them quiet and ignoring victim’s complaints.
Peter Saunders, a victim of sexual abuse himself, has broken his silence about Cardinal Pell. Saunders established the National Association for People Abused in Childhood in Britain 16 years ago. Last December, he was hand-picked by Pope Francis to lead the Vatican’s commission for the protection of children.
Appearing on Nine Network's 60 Minutes program*, Saunders described Pell as a dangerous individual. Saunders said about Pell in the interview: “He has a catalogue of denigrating people, of acting with callousness, cold-heartedness, almost sociopathic, I would go as far as to say – this lack of care.” “Pell had shown disregard for victims of child sexual abuse through his repeated denial of any knowledge of abuse within the church”, Saunders said.
Judy Courtin, from Australia’s Monash University’s law faculty, has extensively researched abuse within the Catholic church. In response to the interview. Pell said he was considering his legal options, a move which Courtin described as “highly insulting to victims”.
Courtin said that for justice to be done, victims needed to be able to tell their story and also to know that senior figures in the institution where the abuse occurred were held to account. “He seems more concerned with protecting his reputation than supporting victims,” she said about Pell.
The president of the Care Leavers Australia Network, Maureen Cuskelly, whose organization supports survivors of sexual abuse within institutions, also said it was concerning that Pell was considering his legal options.
Our efforts are succeeding. We are exposing the abusers of children and all those who ignore or cover up the crimes of these abusers. Pope Francis is feeling the heat as the fires of justice get closer and closer.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Barbara Blaine, founder and president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national advocacy group for survivors of clerical sexual abuse.
Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote yesterday in the Chicago Sun Times:
“It’s been 30 years since the first pedophile priest case attracted nationwide attention. Since then, we’ve seen literally hundreds of Catholic abuse panels of one stripe or another. So it’s hard for us in SNAP to feel excited about the promise of another one, especially one in which clerics will judge fellow clerics.”
In Barbara’s opinion:
“Each church committee feels like another move to handle criminal matters quietly and internally. There’s a far better alternative: the time-tested set of independent “tribunals” already in place to deal with those who commit or conceal child sex crimes called the secular justice system. It is where abuse and cover ups in other institutions are handled. But in most cases, church officials fight such legal action vigorously. They always have and still do.
If Vatican officials want to really protect kids and deter cover-ups, they have all the power and policies they need. They can start by insisting that bishops world-wide lobby politicians for stronger child safety laws, and turn over all files about accused predators to police now.
Within weeks of taking office, Pope Francis quickly ousted a German bishop who spent $42 million renovating his house. He could – and should — take similarly decisive action against hundreds of his complicit staff. No new “mechanism” was or is needed.
That’s the advantage of a clear, rigid monarchy –those on top can easily sack underlings. But Catholic officials won’t defrock, demote, discipline or denounce even one church employee, from custodian to cardinal, for protecting predators. Not one ordained cleric on earth even criticized by name Missouri Bishop Robert Finn, who was criminally convicted of endangering kids.
What the church hierarchy lacks are not policies, procedures, protocols and panels. It lacks the courage to “render unto Caesar” known and suspected criminal church officials who selfishly put their clerical careers and comfort ahead of the safety of their flock.
No words on paper – however reassuring or encouraging – will give these clerics the courage they’re missing. Let’s be prudent, stay vigilant and withhold judgment until we see if and how this panel might act.”
Thank you Barbara for clearly showing that Catholic officials don’t protect children from predatory clergy – they protect themselves at all costs.
|Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned June 14|
Steve Sheehan, publisher of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition News had this to say today about Pope Francis’ latest attempt to show that he is chasing down bad bishops:
“Hark the Papal Tribunal sings! It seems to me I heard that song before. Well, play it again, Sam!”
Do you remember:
“1985: The Doyle, Mouton, Peterson report? Well, let's just put that aside and perhaps it will simply fade away.
2002: The Boston Globe Spotlight report? Well, we'll have a conference, write a charter, create a Review Board and then it'll just be history. Let's move Bernard Law to Rome where he'll be out of the hot seat.
2004: We were told that the clergy sexual abuse crisis is now "history."
2004 to 2012: Rather than seeking to heal the Church, the US Catholic bishops went on the offensive seeking to reassert their lost moral authority by politicizing the Eucharist and focusing on divisive social issues such as religious liberty and marriage equality at the expense of speaking out collectively for the poor, further surrendering their moral voice.
2012: Finn? Well, we'll just sit this one out and people will forget about him. In a few years he'll retire and we'll be out of the woods.
2013: Maybe we should form a Pontifical Commission. That'll look like we're doing something positive.
2015: The commission recommends a tribunal be established to look into holding bishops accountable. It'll take several years for that to get into action and in the meantime we'll talk about the environment and the economy and divert people's attention. Another encyclical will occupy their minds.
It's still the same old story - and the melody lingers on.”
What Steve says is true – these commissions are just window dressing – attempts by the Catholic Church hierarchy to look good and do nothing. What Pope Francis doesn’t realize is that we see through his smoke screen and we are the people that he can no longer fool.