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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Thursday, November 4, 2010

My remarks on gays twisted, says cleric

Statement by Lieve Halsberghe, Belgium SNAP Director, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (+32 475 910 918 lievehalsberghe@hotmail.com)

Leonard is a smart, highly-educated man with a staff of other smart, highly-educated men under him. We don't find his claim to have been 'misrepresented' credible. When a smart man repeatedly makes insensitive comments, it's hard to sympathize with him when he claims his words have been 'twisted.'

If we cause harm, intentionally or unintentionally, we should take tangible steps to help reduce the harm. So when Leonard actually does something - besides making excuses - to alleviate the suffering of those he has hurt, then we'll begin to give him the benefit of the doubt.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 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 (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

My remarks on gays twisted, says cleric

November 5, 2010

BRUSSELS: The embattled head of Belgium's Catholic church has defended his controversial remarks on AIDS, gays and paedophile priests, insisting that his words had been twisted.

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard has been accused of homophobia and his spokesman abruptly resigned after the church leader described gay love as a travesty of nature and AIDS as ''a sort of intrinsic justice''.

He also sparked outrage last month when he implied that elderly priests who sexually abused children long ago should be spared. In a five-page letter published on the official church website, www.catho.be, the Archbishop said his words were taken out of context or misinterpreted by the media.

''I, myself, would react sharply to these 'remarks' in the way they were presented to you,'' he wrote in the letter titled ''I owe you an explanation…''

The Catholic primate, a conservative close to the Pope, denied that he had implied that AIDS had been a divine or human punishment.

He reiterated his belief that it ''could possibly be considered'' as ''a sort of intrinsic justice'', but he stressed that he meant to say the emergence of AIDS was a consequence of ''risky sexual behaviour''.

On homosexuality, Archbishop Leonard vehemently denied that he had implied that gays were ''abnormal'' but insisted that ''there is in the homosexual tendency and practice an orientation that is not coherent with the objective logic of sexuality''.

He also sought to clarify his remarks on elderly priests accused of abusing children, when he said last month that he was ''not sure that exercising a sort of vengeance that will have no concrete result is humane''.

The archbishop noted that he has insisted since April that victims seek justice.

He added that in cases in which the statute of limitations had expired and victims did not want to pursue charges, it might be better to let the abuser ''admit his crime'' in front of his victim than ''forbid this old priest from taking part in the Mass celebrated by the chaplain of his retirement home''.

Agence France-Presse


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