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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For immediate release:
Thursday, January 6, 2005

For more information:
Paul Kendrick of Portland, ME, VOTF Founder, 207 838 6985
Catherine Morin Campbell of Portland, ME, VOTF Member, 207 838 0369
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director, 314 566 9790 cell

Activists Seek Meeting With Bishop, Parishioners

Controversy Over Reception For Accused Priest Could Lead to Healing and Understanding, They Say

Flap Is "An Opportunity For Education & Dialogue"Group Maintains

Three people -- the head of a national support group for clergy molestation victims, the founder of a local Catholic lay reform group and a South Portland parishioner - are asking a Maine pastor and Maine's Catholic bishop to use the cancellation of a reception for an accused priest as "a chance for open dialogue, better understanding and true healing.

The three want to organize a meeting at St. John's parish in South Portland focusing on the clergy sex abuse crisis and how Catholics might best support accused priests and victims at the same time.

Paul Kendrick of Cumberland, Catherine Morin Campbell of Portland and David Clohessy of St. Louis are upset about Rev. Paul Coughlin's alleged sexual misconduct and his housing of John Skinner, Sr. Clohessy heads SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), Kendrick started the Maine chapter of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), and Campbell is the mother of three young children and a parishioner at Holy Cross and St. John parishes in South Portland.

The three wrote Portland's bishop, Richard Malone, earlier this week, urging him to put a stop to an event planned for this Sunday which would have honored Coughlin. The reception was mentioned publicly for the first time in Monday morning's Bangor Daily News. (http://www.bangornews.com/news/templates/?a=106020&z=20)

By late Monday afternoon, the event was canceled.

"If people want to offer support to an accused priest, they should do it privately"said Kendrick. Publicly honoring Coughlin essentially says "We think you are innocent and your alleged victim is lying' or "We think you're important and your victim is not.' Either message is very insensitive."

"We need to get together and talk about this issue," said Campbell. "We can't claim to care about abuse victims, while allowing possible predators to be publicly honored. We can't ask victims to come forward for help, while bestowing praise and recognition on someone who covered up for a child molester."

In a letter sent today to Malone, the three are urging the bishop to use this as an opportunity to "teach Catholics about more appropriate and less hurtful ways to support an accused priest without intimidating victims and witnesses who need to come forward."

"We've seen abusive priests escape civil accountability, evade criminal prosecution, retain their priesthoods, be re-instated and re-assigned,"said Clohessy. "But nothing hurts more, and drives victims into hopelessness more, than seeing a known or suspected molester be publicly honored."Such recognition of accused abusers reduces the chances that others who have been assaulted will call the police or seek help, Clohessy said.

The reception was to be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the VFW Hall in South Portland.

SNAP is the nation's largest and oldest support group for clergy molestation victims.

A copy of the letter to Bishop Richard Malone, Rev. Michael Gendreau (Pastor of St. John's, 772-7489) and the two event organizers (Rick O'Brien 773-1185 and Anna Guesman 945-6305) was sent today by e-mail.
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January 6, 2005

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland
Portland, Maine

Dear Bishop Malone,

As you are aware, recent events regarding a reception for Father Paul Coughlin have stirred up a controversy. We are attempting to resolve any misunderstandings. As a courtesy to you, we are letting you know that we are trying to organize a public discussion at St. John's parish in South Portland.

We hope - in the spirit of openness, healing and prevention - you will support our efforts by endorsing and attending this event. If you can't come, we hope you'll send someone else from the Chancery office to represent you.

Sincerely,
Catherine Morin Campbell, 207 838-0369
David Clohessy, 314 566 9790
Paul Kendrick, 207 838-6985

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January 6, 2005

Rev. Michael P. Gendreau, Pastor
Holy Cross and St. John Parishes
South Portland, Maine

Dear Rev. Gendreau,

We are afraid that some of Father Coughlin's former parishioners may be upset by the cancellation of the reception that was to be held in his honor on Sunday.

We are afraid that some victims of abuse, even one, may be upset that the event was scheduled in the first place.

We are afraid that that supporters of Father Coughlin may misunderstand our motives.

We are afraid that victims who have not yet come forward may be intimidated by the positive attention being lavished on Rev. Coughlin.

In a recent column, Rev. Richard McBrien wrote: "Dialogue is especially important when personal relationships and communities are in a crisis of one kind or another."

We think it is important that all voices be heard so that greater understanding may be achieved. Therefore, we propose an open forum and discussion at St. John's parish as early as next week.

Among other things, we'd like to discuss a "middle ground" - how can parishioners who support Father Coughlin express their concern for him in ways that doesn't hurt or intimidate victims of abuse (by clergy, by relatives, by teachers, by any predator).

We're inviting Bishop Malone and/or a member of his staff to participate. If press reports are accurate, the bishop wasn't even aware of the reception until recently. Even if he declines to sanction or join the event, we hope members of the parish, even just a handful, will cooperate with us in seeking open dialogue and greater understanding.

One of us is already known to many HCSJ parishioners. Catherine Morin Campbell, a member of Holy Cross parish, is the mother of three children, two of whom were baptized and confirmed by Father Coughlin.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,
Catherine Morin Campbell, 207 838-0369
David Clohessy, 314 566 9790
Paul Kendrick, 207 838-6985

----------------------------------------

January 6, 2005

Anna Guesman
Rick O'Brien

Dear Anna and Rick,

We are afraid that you and other former parishioners of Father Coughlin may be upset by the cancellation of the reception that was to be held in his honor on Sunday.

We are afraid that some victims of abuse, even one, may be upset that the event was scheduled in the first place.

We are afraid that that you and other supporters of Father Coughlin may misunderstand our motives.

We are afraid that victims who have not yet come forward may be intimidated by the positive attention being lavished on Rev. Coughlin.

In a recent column, Rev. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame University wrote: "Dialogue is especially important when personal relationships and communities are in a crisis of one kind or another."

We think it is important that all voices be heard so that greater understanding may be achieved. Therefore, we propose an open forum and discussion at St. John's parish in South Portland as early as next week.

Among other things, we'd like to discuss a "middle ground" - how can parishioners like yourselves support Father Coughlin and express your concern for him in ways that doesn't hurt or intimidate victims of abuse (by clergy, by relatives, by teachers, by any predator).

We're inviting Bishop Malone and/or a member of his staff to participate. If press reports are accurate, the bishop wasn't even aware of the reception until recently. Even if he declines to endorse or join the event, we hope members of your parishes, even just a handful, will cooperate with us in seeking open dialogue and greater understanding.

One of us is already known to many HCSJ parishioners. Catherine Morin Campbell, a member of Holy Cross parish, is the mother of three children, two of whom were baptized and confirmed by Father Coughlin.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,
Catherine Morin Campbell, 207 838-0369
David Clohessy, 314 566-9790
Paul Kendrick, 207 838-6985

 

 


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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