Rome--Victims of clergy abuse demand action from Pope

Rome--Victims of clergy abuse demand action from Pope

Victims of clergy abuse demand action from Pope

While church commemorates innocent children murdered by Herod, victims to Pope: take action

Victimized as children by priests in three different countries they seek prevention

To Pope Francis: Fire predators and order bishops to open records and report evidence to police

For immediate release: December 28, 2014

By Barbara Blaine, SNAP President, +1 312 399 4747, bblaine@SNAPnetwork.org

As Catholics commemorate the biblical story of Herod massacring infants and acknowledge the special vulnerability of children, victims want Pope Francis to take concrete action to protect children now.   

Specifically they want Pope Francis to take immediate action today to keep children safe in the church. They want him to:

-Fire the predators,

-Order all bishops to report suspected sex crimes, open files and turn over evidence to police, and

-Punish bishops and church officials who knowingly transfer predators and/or shield predators from police.

In February 2014 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child found that children remain at “… high risk of sexual abuse, as dozens of child sexual offenders are reported to be still in contact with children.”

They also found instances where church officials have “refused to cooperate with law enforcement authorities…”  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/06/world/europe/un-panel-assails-vatican-over-sex-abuse-by-priests.html?_r=0

In a compassionate letter to Pope Francis (attached below) sex abuse victims from three countries tell how church officials, aware of crimes being committed by their perpetrators refused to call police. They want Pope Francis to order bishops to assist police in prosecuting predator priests.

Just days ago Pope Francis highlighted the plight of children who experience violence at the hands of “contemporary Herods” while others remain silent. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/world/europe/pope-francis-in-christmas-address-focuses-on-childrens-plight.html SNAP leaders want the Pope to lead the charge in protecting children by starting in the church itself.

SNAP wants predators fired from their posts.

They want bishops who transfer and/or shield predators punished.

SNAP leaders want the Pope to demand that records about sex crimes should be turned over to police and made public. Bishops should encourage their employees and parishioners to assist police in obtaining all evidence so that the perpetrators of sexual violence can be prosecuted and jailed. Victims want the Pope to order bishops across the globe to take these simple steps to immediately make children safer.

“While still a teenager I complained about being sexually abused to church officials in Spain who silenced me. They did not call the police and allowed my abuser to continue to work with vulnerable children for several more years. Church officials who covered up for my abuser were never punished,” says Miguel Hurtado Calvo, SNAP Spokesperson speaking from London.

Nicky Davis, SNAP Australia Coordinator says, “One way to ensure that sexual predators cannot harm another child is to put them in jail. My perpetrator violated almost 50 little girls over many decades but was never prosecuted, even though there were eyewitnesses to my years of abuse, willing to testify at trial.” 

Davis went on, “Church officials did not report what they knew about his crimes, which is itself a crime. They also were never prosecuted. In recent years police found evidence hidden in the church roof. Parish staff eventually admitted to police they would have lost their jobs if they revealed the truth. When police determined that the predator would not be prosecuted Church officials celebrated as if they had won a victory. They did this right in front of me.”

Too many of us had our innocence shattered. It could have been prevented but for the silence of church officials.

Words do not protect children. But strong decisive action can protect children. It is not enough to talk about the necessity of protecting children. It is necessary to protect children by taking action.

Actions speak louder than words. Pope Francis has been speaking about the wrongs children suffer but now he must take action that will actually make a difference in keeping children safe. Hundreds of children would immediately become safer if he would take these simple steps.”

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy, +1-314-566-9790, davidgclohessy@gmail.com, Barbara Dorris +1-314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org, Barbara Blaine +1-312-399-4747, bblaine@SNAPnetwork.org, Miguel Hurtado +44 77 87 638 245, Nicky Davis +61 422 538 440

 

Letter to Pope Francis Below 

28 December, 2014

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City 

Dear Pope Francis:

Please take immediate action today, on this feast of Holy Innocents, to keep children safe in the church.  Please:

-        Fire the predators.

-        Order all bishops to report suspected sex crimes, open files and turn over evidence to police.

-        Punish bishops and church officials who knowingly transfer predators and/or shield predators from police.

As Catholics commemorate the biblical story of Herod massacring infants and acknowledge the special vulnerability of children, we humbly ask you to take concrete action to protect children now.

We were once innocent children who were sexually violated by trusted priests. We want to ensure that no more children are abused and that no more families suffer as ours have.

In your Christmas message earlier this week you emphasized the plight of children and spoke about the special needs of this vulnerable population. You said that your thoughts were with children and addressed many forms of violence that children endure.

We respectfully ask that you take specific action now to protect children in the church. Words alone will not keep children safe. Courage and action will protect the children. Please show courage and take these minimal steps.

The three of us signing this letter come from three different generations and three different continents yet all of us were needlessly sexually violated as children by priests because church officials refused to contact police. We have learned that our experiences are not isolated. Rather, most sexual violence in the church could easily be prevented if bishops and church officials merely did the right thing. 

“While still a teenager I complained about being sexually abused to church officials in Spain who silenced me. They did not call the police and allowed my abuser to continue to work with vulnerable children for several more years. Church officials who covered up for my abuser were never punished,” says Miguel Hurtado Calvo, SNAP Spokesperson speaking from London.

Nicky Davis, SNAP Australia Coordinator says, “One way to ensure that sexual predators cannot harm another child is to put them in jail. My perpetrator violated almost 50 little girls over many decades but was never prosecuted, even though there were eyewitnesses to my years of abuse, willing to testify at trial.” 

Davis went on, “Church officials did not report what they knew about his crimes, which is itself a crime. They also were never prosecuted. In recent years police found evidence hidden in the church roof. Parish staff eventually admitted to police they would have lost their jobs if they revealed the truth. When police determined that the predator would not be prosecuted Church officials celebrated as if they had won a victory. They did this right in front of me.”

Barbara Blaine, SNAP President, abused in the United States says, “Church officials had been warned about my perpetrator going after girls but no one stopped him. When I reported him to both the bishop and the Provincial of his religious community they said he would not be permitted to abuse anyone else. They also said I was the first one to come forward and frightened me and my parents into silence. They convinced us that it was best to not report the crime to police. We trusted them. Eventually we learned that at least 22 other girls were sexually violated. They had known for decades and merely allowed him to prey on more children. Seven years later when I realized it was wrong to keep the information from police and reported the crime I learned that it was too late to prosecute the priest. Had I reported it when the bishop and provincial persuaded me not to, they could have prosecuted him. It is sad that I did not get my day in court but what is worse is that he continued to sexually violate more girls.”

Too many of us had our innocence shattered. It could have been prevented but for the silence of church officials.

Earlier this year two independent United Nations Panels came to similar conclusions. They recommended that predators be removed from ministry and that church officials should cooperate with police investigating sex crimes by church employees. We join in asking you to follow those recommendations.

The policies of secrecy and transferring predators must end. Thousands of victims have told how it is normal for bishops and heads of religious communities to shield sexual predator priests from police. This causes horrific suffering by children and their loved ones. Because crimes are not reported perpetrators go on to violate more children.   

We ask that you help ensure the safety of children by taking these simple steps. Please fire the predators, tell the bishops and church officials that they must open their files and turn them over to police. Please punish the bishops who refuse to cooperate and who transfer or shelter sexual predators.

Put your words into action to prevent violence against anyone within the church, especially the children.

Sincerely,

Nicky Davis                                         Miguel Hurtado                                   Barbara Blaine

SNAP Australia Coordinator               SNAP Spokesperson London               SNAP President    

Comments

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  • commented 2015-01-02 06:54:33 -0600
    As I applaud your valiant effort in standing up to the pope, I see it as all requests from the vatican, what is the vatican’s incentive to change?
    Who we are dealing with is the last of the European Monarchs. World War 1 deleted a lot of them. The vatican is one of the last ones and stands alone.
    If the vatican could change, it would change. Like Islam, it struggles to cope with modernity. These two religions have operated so long as absolute dictatorships, they can not conceive of change, as they would see it as a direct threat to their absolutism. Islam gets more violent as it it’s false claims are disproved over and over. The vatican shield itself in such a bubble of unreality, it has the inability to function with the values of common human rights or decency.
    I suggest you take actions in the same manner as if you found a family member a loved one guilty of an evil and heinous crime.
    Turn them over to the authorities is one. In this case, dealing with ill tempered Monarchs, is not an option. A second action is to take action yourself. Physically removing the Monarch and their system. this could be done militarily, but when a ridiculously percentage of the military is on the Monarch’s side, (Along with it’s Government), that isn’t an option either.
    What we are left with is a war of ideas. And no war has been won by not operating in the ‘Total War’ terminology. You cannot lover or respect your enemy. There is no half efforts that will work. Choose which side you want to be on. There is no in-between. This is war.
    If we can agree with my idea that the vatican, if it does change, will not be in any way, near enough of a change to matter. And remember WHAT THIS WAR IS ALL ABOUT. THE SAFETY AND THE FUTURE CHILDREN. Yours and mine. Drastic steps must be taken.
    1. The men and women must educated in this endeavor. Truth is first and complete.m Look at it as soldiers from pass wars endured brainwashing. It was real and it did happen. It happened to you and to me also. The brainwashing was performed by the ones closest to us. Our parents. I un-brainwashed myself by reading books by authors that applied logic, reason and evidence. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens. Youtube their videos or read their books. Their logic and reasoning is right. Religions claims are false and misleading. I did not say this was going to be an easy war to wage or to win. Sacrifices ( The Non-Human Kind), must be made.
    If I haven’t made an once of sense to you yet, I will stop. But remember a couple of things. It is immoral to yell
    FIRE’ in a crowded movie theater. It is just as immoral, watching the same crowded theater, smolder from a small flame, just seconds away from exploding into an uncontrollable fire that cannot be contained in which everyone dies.
    My admiration and respect for the leaders and members of the SNAP organization is endless. Everyone should be proud of this organization’s achievements and their compassion administered in those accomplishments. But the membership and it’s leaders in the past have shown the inability to drive the stake through the vampires heart. Fighting off a Kodiak bear with rabies with a spork will not favorably. And that’s all these letters and requests are, given by servants on bended knees of the ill tempered Monarch are.
    Other plans? More drastic? Yes. In a totally legal form. But in order to win this battle, you cannot be a member of the opposing army.

    Sincerely,
    John Duffin.
    Happy New Year To Everyone and Thank You For Your Hard Work.
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