An international self-help group for clergy sex abuse victims is raising concerns about three more high-ranking Catholic cardinals who have been publicly named as possible "picks" for the new pope.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests(SNAPNetwork.org) say they’re worried about how three prelates might deal with abuse and cover up if they become the next pontiff: Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil, Parisian Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, and Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya.
“These three don’t seem as problematic as the 12 we criticized last week,” said Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director. “But what we’ve learned since then really makes us doubt they would be effective at protecting kids. And we feel it’s our obligation to share what we know about these powerful figures so we might just prevent one more child from getting assaulted by one more priest and later feel betrayed one more time by an influential church official.”
“Our goal is to prevent more pain and deter more reckless, callous and deceitful behavior by bishops,” said Clohessy. “If one distraught parent in France, Brazil or the Congo is considering reporting their child’s abuse to these prelates, and sees this list, and decides to report to law enforcement instead, we think everyone will be well served.”
SNAP leaders emphasized that their choices are “based solely on the actions and/or public comments about child sex abuse and cover ups.” Sources include mainstream media accounts, legal filings and victims’ experiences, and the names are in no particular order, the group said (Confirmation of the candidacies of these prelates is at the bottom.)
Here are details about the three men and SNAP’s concerns.
Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Sao Paulo Brazil
--In 2010, he claimed that the church does not cover-up clergy sex abuse.
--He also said that there was an “organized” and “orchestrated” attempt “to make the Pope personally responsible.”http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/brazilian_cardinal_church_does_not_deny_or_cover_up_abuse/
--He has been a member of the Roman Curia, heading the powerful Congregation for Bishops for seven years.
--He has been described as “closely tied to” and much like Pope Benedict.
--According to a story on Sunday by veteran Rome journalist Victor Simpson of the Associated Press, one “camp” of prelates “dominated by the powerful Vatican bureaucracy called the Curia, is believed to be seeking a pope who will let it continue calling the shots as usual. The speculation is that the Curia is pushing the candidacy of Brazilian Odilo Scherer, who has close ties to the Curia and would be expected to name an Italian insider as Secretary of State — the Vatican No. 2 who runs day-to-day affairs at the Holy See.”
“An ‘insider’ and ‘business as usual’ isn’t what vulnerable kids and wounded victims need right now,” said SNAP director David Clohessy. “There must be strong measures taken if abuse and cover up are to be reduced in the church, not the ‘same old, same old.’”
“It’s disturbing to see a cardinal make such sweeping statement like ‘the church doesn’t conceal child sex crimes,’” said Dorris. “And if anything here is ‘orchestrated,’ we believe it’s the very real cover up by many prelates, not the so-called ‘attack’ on bishops by the media.”
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Paris, France
-- Just this week, he minimized the church’s on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis, saying “We shouldn’t be duped” by the “fascination” over abuse within the Church, since “80% of victims of paedophilia are in families.”
-- He said that the "issue" should be handled "locally," making no mention of secular law enforcement. http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=17285
--As best SNAP can tell, Vingt-Trois has never denounced a bishop in his country who was convicted for keeping a known pedophile in parish work, instead of reporting him to civil authorities.
That prelate, Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux, was criminally convicted in 2001 of failing to report Rev. Rene Bissey, who had sexually assaulted ten boys. Yet SNAP sees no evidence that Vingt-Trois has even once reprimanded or denounced Bishop Pican, nor called on other French bishops to report other abusers.
“It’s been three years since thousands of abuse victims began coming forward in Belgium, Ireland, Germany and other nations in western Europe,” said Dorris. “We would have hoped that Vingt-Trois would have moved much more aggressively in this crisis than he has.”
“Saying virtually nothing about a complicit colleague – especially one who’s deemed guilty in court of endangering kids – shows a greater concern for a powerful adult’s reputation than for an innocent child’s safety,” said Clohessy.
Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Monsengwo Pasinya told AFP that he had never received a complaint about child sex among the clergy. "I've been a bishop for 30 years, and I have never handled a case of paedophilia nor seen any clergy accused," he said.
"There are 35 million Congolese Catholics. That’s half of the country. Seven million are in Cardinal Pasinya's archdiocese," said Clohessy. "He's been a priest for almost 50 years. So we simply cannot believe he's telling truth when he says he's never encountered an accused cleric."
“We’re a self-help group with a tiny staff, not a massive research organization with huge resources,” said Dorris. “We do not claim to have extensive knowledge about these prelates. Much of what we know comes from sources that are in the public domain, like court documents and mainstream news accounts of how these men handle and talk about this crisis.”
Here are some of the sources that confirm the French and the DRC cardinals are “papabiles.”
But, these actions are all still “in motion”, motion that has achieved momentum and which is why I am continuing to say STAY IN THE BATTLE, STAY IN THE FIGHT, FOR THESE VICTIMS AND ALL OF US CATHOLICS, today…TODAY, TODAY! TELL THE LEADERS! WE MUCH CHANGE THE CHURCH, NOW. WE MUST HAVE A NEW POPE WHO CAN AND DOES CHANGE THIS CHURCH, NOW in the year, 2013!
Right now, today, March 13, 2013, my main goal and purpose is to continue encouraging any of the SNAP people currently in Rome and at the Vatican during this conclave; to stay the fight and continue the battle NOW, even if the only opportunity to do so means “camping out” on the St Peter’s square with signs demanding that the church change, signs saying something about the cardinals’ need to choose a new pope who in fact, is capable of setting new procedure, and capable of ensuring that pedophiles are then on notice to STOP, AND TO EFFECTIVELY, “TURN THEMSELVES IN” to the proper authorities or otherwise risk being arrested, now.
That, is exactly what I believe should be done, with convicted pedophiles. And, I think that people like Roger Mahoney and all the other cardinals like him, who aid and abet pedophiles, should be afraid that such will be their fate, as well.