The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Sex abuse victims blast new papal Saginaw/Philly appointment
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)
This is perhaps the most upsetting appointment of Pope Benedict’s tenure. Cistone is heavily implicated in one of the most widely-documented cover ups of clergy sex crimes, as thoroughly proven in a Philadelphia grand jury report.
The same Vatican officials who have acted so insensitively toward other groups recently now thumbs its nose at millions of American Catholics and thousands of American child sex abuse victims by promoting a corrupt individual to a higher post in the church.
(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 since 1988 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), Mary Grant (626-419-2930), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940)
FROM A 2005 PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER ARTICLE:
Bishop Joseph R. Cistone
Now auxiliary bishop and archdiocesan vicar for administration.
The grand jury found that Cistone, as assistant vicar for administration, was complicit in the 1996 silencing of Sister Joan Scary, who was trying to alert parishioners to the Rev. Edward DePaoli's history of abuse. It said Cistone received regular updates, including a final one that "everything is quiet at St. Gabriel parish concerning the situation."
Cistone also wrote an administrative memo in 1998 saying that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua did not want to meet with a victim of the Rev. Stanley Gana, a repeat abuser. When the victim demanded a meeting, Cistone wrote that such a step might "set a precedent, i.e. for the Cardinal to meet with such individuals."
In response to church therapists' warnings about Gana and their recommendation that he be treated at a residential facility, Cistone wrote to Bevilacqua that "Bishop Cullen and I both feel that this has the potential of becoming a PR concern." Gana left his parish assignment but was allowed to choose his treatment.
In 2002, the report said, Cistone learned that another molester, Raymond O. Leneweaver, had been teaching in two suburban school districts and took no action. The report says that in 2002, Cistone heard from a victim that the Rev. Thomas Smith had made boys strip and pricked some with pins. Smith had acknowledged the behavior, yet Cistone recommended letting him continue to perform parish duties.
In an e-mail last week, Cistone declined to discuss those incidents. "I am deeply aware of the suffering caused to the victims of abuse by some of our priests as well as the pain experienced by Catholics throughout our Archdiocese. I have taken the opportunity to publicly express my sincere, personal sorrow for these abhorrent acts as well as for any mistakes in judgment made by those of us... with responsibility for these matters.
"[I]t would not serve any purpose to revisit the grand jury report and endeavor to recall the rationale for past decisions made in specific cases."
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests