Rome--Victims group blasts Vatican abuse summit
Recent cases show epidemic of child pornography and cover-up in the church
Church should be target of global response, not leading it, group says
Today, the world’s largest support group for men and women sexually abused in the Catholic Church is criticizing a Vatican summit aimed at exposing child sexual abuse on the Internet. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/world/europe/catholic-church-sex-abuse.html
Msgr. Carlo Capella is a Vatican diplomat who was recalled to the Vatican last month when U.S. authorities accused him of possession of child pornography. Last week, Canadian officials issued a warrant for his arrest on child pornography charges there. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/09/29/vatican-diplomat-is-now-wanted-in-canada-for-posting-child-porn-at-christmastime/?utm_term=.a04b14be4b2e
The three-day Child Dignity in the Digital Age World Conference https://www.childdignity2017.org/ concludes October 6, 2017 at the Gregorian University in Rome. The event has brought together world leaders in digital media, according to media reports.However, the epidemic and cover-up of child pornography, SNAP says, is a big problem in the Catholic Church:
- In August 2017 Father Kevin Gugliotta was sentenced to jail for disseminating child pornography. Gugliotta was suspended from ministry in 2003 for allegedly molesting a teenage boy in the 1980s. Because the incident occurred before he became a priest, the Archdiocese of Newark said this did not break their zero tolerance guidelines and reinstated him in 2004.
- In 2017, former Catholic pastor Clovis Vilchez-Parra was sentenced to four years in jail for possession of child pornography. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/arlington-heights/news/ct-priest-child-porn-met-20170427-story.html
- In May 2017, Ex-Los Banos, California priest Robert Gamel was arrested for possession of child pornography, less than six months after being released from jail for a pornography conviction. The crimes included possession of a nude image of a young female parishioner. http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/crime/article148488359.html
- In 2016, Pennsylvania priest John Stephen Mraz was charged with possession of child pornography, criminal use of a communication facility and selling obscene materials. He pleaded guilty. http://www.ajc.com/news/crime--law/catholic-priest-charged-child-pornography-investigation/fAIqtgCiAK3ObAwu4TMRsJ/
- In 2016, Louisiana Priest Fr. Felix Broussard was arrested on 500 counts of child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty. http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2017/05/02/priest-pleads-not-guilty-child-porn-case/101174814/
- In 2013, former Archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis John Nienstedt admitted that when learning one of his priests had images that may be child pornography on his computer, Nienstedt turned the computer over to a private investigator, not the police. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/04/22/archbishop-nienstedt-deposition
- In 2012, Kansas City/St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn was convicted of failing to report suspected child abuse. He admitted that a he knew that one of his priests, Fr. Shawn Ratigan had hundreds of images of child pornography on his computer, but did not tell the police. http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-church-abuse-charges-20170629-htmlstory.html
These cases represent the “tip of the iceberg,” SNAP believes.
“We have bishops who have actively covered up for criminals. We have had numerous arrests in the past year,” Dorris said. “Not once have we seen a church official stand up and do the right thing for kids by calling the FBI or Interpol. The Vatican should not be leading this summit. They should be the target of this summit.”
SNAP is calling for parents to be more vigilant when it comes to internet safety. “Being a parent is tough work,” Dorris said. “There are trustworthy resources available that can help you better equip your child to be safer on the Internet. The most important thing is to talk to your child about abuse and to be open with your communication.”
They also ask anyone who suspects they may have seen child pornography and child abuse imagery to report it immediately to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Cyber Tipline at http://www.missingkids.com/cybertipline.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contacts – Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003, email@example.com) Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175, firstname.lastname@example.org), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, email@example.com)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.