The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Thursday, May 7, 2009
Clergy sex abuse victims blast 'rally' for high profile priest
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home)
We urge Miami's archbishop to stop Fr. Cutie's backers from these types of public displays of support. They are unhealthy.
Let's be clear: Fr. Cutie is NOT accused of adult sexual misdeeds by church authorities, not child sexual crimes by civil authorities. Nevertheless, when Catholics enthusiastically and publicly back priests accused of misdeeds, it's hurtful. It intimidates others who've seen, suspected or suffered clergy crimes into staying silent. That, in turn, makes the church a more dangerous place.
If the church is to be safer and healthier, it's crucial that all of us foster a welcoming climate, not a hostile one, for people to report priests' misdeeds.
Somewhere in Fr. Cutie's parish is a little girl who is being molested right now by her step dad or a little boy being abused by his coach. The predator is telling his victim, "I'm a powerful and popular adult. If you speak up, people will believe me, not you." When those children see their parents and friends vociferously 'rallying around' an accused priest (regardless of the particulars of the allegation), they will likely believe their predators stay silent, and keep being molested.
Those who support Fr. Cutie should pray for him, write to him, visit him and express their love and concern in private ways, not public ways. They should put the well-being of many vulnerable children ahead of the comfort of one powerful adult.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 20 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. 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 (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home), Peter Isely (414-429-7259) Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688)
Supporters of Alberto Cutié to rally behind priest
Miami Herald Staff Report
A rally in support of the Rev. Alberto Cutié, the telegenic Catholic priest embroiled in a romantic scandal, is being planned for Thursday morning in Miami Beach.
Set to start at 9 a.m., the rally will take place in front of Cutié's South Beach parish, St. Francis de Sales church, 621 Alton Rd.
''We are gathering together to show our friendship and support for all the work he has done in Miami and around the world,'' said Yohayra Dajud De La Fuentes, a parishioner and one of the rally's organizers. ``He changed our lives and is a channel of God's light.''
She said supporters will be dressed in white. ''We want everyone dressed in white because it symbolizes peace,'' she said.
Cutié, a national figure with movie star looks, was removed from his Miami Beach church on Tuesday after photographs appeared in a Mexican magazine showing him on a beach with a woman. TVnotas hit the newsstands in Miami on Wednesday.
The magazine's cover shows Cutié, 40, laying on his back in blue shorts with an unidentified, brown-haired woman in a dark bathing suit wrapping her legs around him.
Other pictures, which TVnotas says were taken over a three-day period in March, include one with Cutié's hand inside the woman's bathing suit touching her posterior. Still another shows the couple kissing at an unidentified terrace bar.
The photos came to light about six weeks after paparazzi tried to peddle them locally, but were turned away.
Archdiocese of Miami officials, who removed Cutié from his duties at the church, said Wednesday that the priest's future is in his hands.
''Father Alberto is taking time to pray; how he proceeds is totally his choice,'' said archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta. ``He is a member of the clergy and, therefore, the archdiocese will assist him in his prayerful journey.''
''This is a conversation between a priest and his archbishop, like a conversation between a father and a son,'' she said. ``Now Father Albert has some prayerful time ahead of him.''
In an interview with El Nuevo Herald on Wednesday, the internationally known priest and media personality said he was taking an indefinite leave from the church for ``personal reflection.''
Cutié, who also issued a public apology on Tuesday, declined to identify his companion in the published pictures or talk about their relationship in his brief telephone interview with El Nuevo Herald, The Miami Herald's sister newspaper.
''It would be inappropriate. To protect that person it's best not to speak about that. It has been enough already. It's has been too much for me and my family,'' Cutié told the newspaper, for which he writes a weekly advice column.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests