Abuse Victims Praise Two Outspoken Bishops
November 14, 2002
Abuse Victims Praise Two Outspoken Bishops
"Unprecedented & Brave " Public Comments Bode Well, Group Says
A national support group for men and women sexually abused by clerics praised two Catholic bishops for speaking up this week on the issue.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (survivorsnetwork.org), praised Dallas Bishop Joseph Gallante and Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss for "publicly siding with those who are hurting and vulnerable."
In an interview with a Texdas newspaper, Gallante expressed frustration with Bishop Charles Grahmann for failing to remove a pastor accused of sexual misconduct with an adult man in 1991. The accusation surfaced in May of this year.
Gallante also said he has yet to receive a full briefing about the case and has spent weeks prodding Grahmann to act.
Curtiss, on the floor of the annual bishops conference meeting in Washington DC, recommended that the body "censure bishops who had transferred priests accused of sexual abuse of miniors from parish to parish." His amendment failed, but encouraged SNAP members nevertheless.
His remarks came during a discussion on Wednesday of "episcopal oversight" or bishops' accountability, just one day after SNAP had urged American bishops to "break their silence, not about sexual abuse, but about each other" and hold each other accountable.
The topic is being addressed by an ad hoc committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops headed by San Diego Bishop Robert Brom. In their meeting last June in Dallas, bishops acknowledged that no penalties exist for their colleagues who transfer abusers or concealed their crimes. They pledged to consider such reforms this fall.
"We are very gratified by the courage of these two church leaders," said SNAP spokesman David Clohessy of St. Louis. "We in the Survivors Network believe it will help reassure Catholics and help heal victims as more bishops denounce wrongdoing by their brother bishops. Many Catholics, we feel, want to see others in the church hierarchy follow Curtiss' and Gallante's lead."
On Tuesday, SNAP cited some bishops who "have begun to break ranks with their colleagues, and take tangible steps toward healing and prevention." They included:
- Bishop Frank Rodimer of Paterson NJ, who held the first open listening session with survivors.
SNAP is an independent, nationwide, Chicago-based, 12 year old, 4300 member support group for women and men victimized by clergy.
Sexual Abuse Victims Criticize National Clergy Abuse Panel
July 22, 2002
New Commission Members To Be Announced Tomorrow
SNAP Won't Be On Body, Keating Says
A national support group for men and women molested by clergy is asking again for representation on a lay panel which will "oversee" American bishops' compliance with a new national sexual abuse policy. The support group - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) - is also criticizing the make up of the panel.
The panel, headed by Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, was announced last month at the bishops' meeting in Dallas. The rest of the commission members are expected to be announced tomorrow, SNAP was informed today by Governor Keating's office.
"We're still willing to serve, even though it is doubtful if this board can be truly independent," said SNAP board member Mark Serrano of Leesburg VA. "Apparently, every single member must get the approval of the bishops conference, must be a practicing Catholic, and cannot be affiliated with any other organization. Given this, it's hard to see this body as being unbiased."
Two SNAP members, Serrano and director David Clohessy of St. Louis, met with Keating briefly in Dallas in June. The governor said then that he wanted SNAP members on the commission. The organization sent Keating a letter over a month ago reiterating its willingness to serve, but got no reply.
Earlier this month, SNAP sent a similar letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory.
SNAP leaders are not optimistic, however, because Keating said on national television Friday night that their group would not be included. He made the surprise announcement on Phil Donahue's MSNBC program in a discussion with SNAP leaders Peter Isely of Milwaukee and Father John Bambrick of New Jersey.
"On TV, Governor Keating said that he didn't want anyone on that panel with an agenda," said Serrano. "In SNAP, we do have an agenda: to protect children from abusive priests and from church leaders who enable the molesters. We think that the Governor and this commission should join us to promote this agenda, and allow SNAP on the commission to represent thousands of abuse survivors who have had no voice before."
Catholic bishops and sexual child abuse
Dallas Morning News
Roughly two-thirds of top U.S. Catholic leaders have allowed priests accused of sexual child abuse to keep working, a systematic practice that spans decades and continues today, a three-month Dallas Morning News review shows. The study - the first of its kind - looked at the records of the top leaders of the nation’s 178 mainstream Roman Catholic dioceses, including acting administrators in cases where the top job is vacant.
Excluded from the study were auxiliary bishops who, in larger dioceses, serve in subordinate roles but still can vote on many matters before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the 17 bishops who lead eparchies, which are diocese-like entities that worship according to the Eastern rite.
In checking whether a bishop had protected priests or other church representatives accused of sexual child abuse, reporters Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin relied on published reports, court records, interviews and church records obtained in civil litigation. Most protected priests were accused of sexually abusing minors - primarily adolescent boys, but also younger ones, and a sizable number of girls of various ages. The newspaper’s study also covered behavior that indicated a sexual attraction to minors, such as viewing child pornography or, in one case, trading sexually charged e-mails with someone a priest believed was a minor.
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