PA--Victims blast Philly archbishop
Victims blast Philly archbishop
He brings controversial group here
Its founder & his top aide abused kids
Several with the order are now in Philly parish
Advocates say Chaput “must denounce predators”
SNAP also charges “Pope’s visit last year changed nothing”
Local Catholic officials “ignore Francis’ pledges,” victims allege
Pontiff said ‘enablers’ would be ‘held accountable’ but they aren’t, SNAP feels
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will urge Philly’s top Catholic officials to:
stop promoting the order and start warning other US bishops about it, and
act on the promises Pope Francis made in Philly a year ago by exposing and disciplining even a few priests who hid or ignored child sex crimes, and disclose more about clergy sex abuse cases.
WHEN: Monday, Oct. 24 at 1:00 pm
WHERE: Outside the Philadelphia Catholic archdiocesan headquarters, 222 North 17th Street (corner of Race) in Philadelphia
WHO: Five-seven members of an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including a Chicago woman who is the organization’s founder
1) In recent years, Chaput has brought to Philadelphia a controversial Catholic sect based in Peru whose founder molested kids. The sect's founder and seven aides are also accused of kidnapping and assaulting youth. Several members of the group, including a priest, now run the parish and Newman Center at both Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania. But as best SNAP can tell, Chaput has never disclosed or discussed the crimes of the group’s Peru-based officials, or explained or apologized for his vigorous support of the group, either in Pennsylania, Colorado or Peru.
In 2014, Chaput appointed a priest and several laymen with the controversial sect Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (sometimes called the Christian Life Movement) to take over operations of the Newman Centers at Drexel and at U. Penn. The Philly-based group is part of an arch-conservative, Peru-based, cult-like organization also called the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV) that is now the subject of shocking news coverage from Peru to Rome. The SCV founder, Luis Fernando Figari, is a confirmed child molester in hiding in Rome. Figari was first accused publicly in 2011, but the crisis around his group exploded in 2015 in Peru, with the publication of a book, Half Monks Half Soldiers, that documented the allegations of 30 former SCV members.
For more than a decade, Chaput has been actively involved in Figari's group and is their leading U.S. patron.
In or around 2003, despite prior public reports of "psychological abuse and mistreatment" of SCV members, Chaput imported the group to the U.S., setting up a community in Denver, where it still thrives. In 2014, he set up a branch in Philadelphia, and the group now runs the Newman Centers at Drexel and U. Penn. and the nearby parish, St. Agatha and St. James, which ministers to area students.
Although no Philly-based member of the group has been accused of wrongdoing, a recent investigative report in Peru revealed that the organization is fundamentally a cult, its training of priests bizarre, and its culture both racist and misogynistic: "Obedience to [the founder was] forged on the basis of extreme physical demands and punishments" as well as "abuses which violated the fundamental rights of people."
The sect also has been described as fascist: Figari, the founder, admired Hitler and Mussolini, according to whistleblower Pedro Salinas, a former member and co-author of the 2015 book.
In the last year, dozens of Sodalitium victims have come forward in Peru, forcing officials in the Vatican and in Peru to finally take action: 1) Six months ago, the organization’s current leader confirmed that the allegations against Figari were true; 2) Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima publicly decried the Sodalitium, saying that all of its past officials were tainted; 3) an ethics commission recommended “barring anyone from representing the organization who held any position in the SCV during the years that the abuses were permitted;” and 4) in June, the Vatican sent Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis to investigate the group at its Peruvian headquarters.
In the midst of this global uproar, and all these denunciations of the Sodalitium, Chaput has stayed silent. As best SNAP can tell, he has not admitted his pivotal role as the SVC’s U.S. patron nor denounced Figari, whom he presumably knew well.
Indeed, in 2012, a year after Figari first was outed publicly as an accused sex abuser, and many years after Figari was first accused of psychological abuse and mistreatment, Chaput traveled to Lima to speak to the Sodalitium and lavishly praised Figari: "God has worked something extraordinary through the passion and genius of Luis Fernando [Figari]." The talk is still posted on the Philly archdiocese website:
Given the gravity and scope of the allegations against the group, Chaput owes the public a full accounting of his deep and longtime involvement. And he should explain the steps he took to vet the group's members who he brought to the U.S., especially those who are ministering now to the kids at Drexel and U. Penn.
2) A year ago in Philly, Pope Francis promised that “abuse cannot be kept secret any longer” and that "all those responsible (will be) held accountable."
Despite these pledges, Archbishop Charles Chaput is “acting in the same secretive and reckless ways” in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, SNAP charges. The group wants Philly church officials to “take tangible steps” to act on these “noble sentiments” by “disclosing more about those who concealed – not just those who committed – clergy sex crimes” and “punish clerics who protected Philly’s 136 publicly accused predator priests.”
“With almost 140 child molesting clerics, and three detailed grand jury reports, Chaput knows which church staff have hidden or ignored clergy sex crimes, but he won’t punish them,” said SNAP spokesperson Karen Polesir of Ambler.
“He’s breaking the pope’s repeated accountability promises. So Chaput should publicly demote at least one church staffer now.”