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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Boston Cardinal should train staff & flock on abuse response
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
We call on Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley to initiate training sessions for all church staff and members on the appropriate ways to react when a priest is accused of molesting a child.
Time and time again, we see and hear and read about callous responses – both in public and in private – by Catholic employees and parishioners across the country when abuse reports surface. It’s obvious that the church hierarchy should teach their flock and their staff on ways to support accused predators without silencing their accusers.
On our website, we have a list of 21 suggestions for church members and employees about what to do when a cleric is accused: http://www.snapnetwork.org/links_homepage/when_priest_accused.htm
Church officials belatedly and begrudgingly agreed to provide abuse prevention training to kids and adults years ago. But that’s different. We believe that church members and employees should get guidance in the proper way to respond once allegations surface, so that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers aren’t intimidated into staying silent but are instead supported so they will speak up, expose wrong-doing, protect kids, help law enforcement and start recovering.
(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, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
BELOW ARE LINKS TO TODAY’S BOSTON GLOBE STORY AND YESTERDAY’S STATEMENT FROM SNAP ABOUT THIS CONTROVERSY
O’Malley apology elicits a rebuke
Alleged victim says comments ‘disingenuous’
By Brian MacQuarrie - Globe Staff / December 21, 2010
A man who alleges he was sexually abused by a priest in Lowell in the 1980s said yesterday that Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley’s apology for remarks by the current pastor, who attacked the priest’s alleged victims as “cowards,’’ is inadequate.
“I find it very disingenuous,’’ said the man, now in his 30s, who asked not to be identified. “The only reason the cardinal issued the statement was because’’ the pastor “decided to use Mass as a podium.’’
In a statement read by an archdiocesan bishop last weekend at Holy Trinity Church in Lowell, O’Malley said that Monsignor Stanislaw Kempa’s use of the pulpit Dec. 11 to criticize the alleged victims was “unauthorized and uncharitable.’’
Kempa had lashed out at three anonymous men who, two days before, alleged through their lawyer that the Rev. Czeslaw Szymanski abused them repeatedly when they were altar boys at Holy Trinity a quarter-century ago. Szymanski, who began serving there in 1981, died in an automobile accident in 1987.
“I want to express my deepest apology to all that the pulpit, a place reserved for the proclamation and teaching of the word of God, was used as a platform for harmful words to be expressed against members of this parish,’’ O’Malley wrote.
Kempa “has taken responsibility for his hurtful actions,’’ diocesan officials said, without elaborating. Counseling has been offered to the alleged victims, and the archdiocese “is working to resolve the claims’’ against Szymanski, said Terrence Donilon, spokesman for the archdiocese.
The monsignor, who has met with archdiocesan officials, “clearly understands where we’re coming from on this,’’ Donilon said. Whether Kempa will celebrate Mass at Holy Trinity this Christmas weekend remained unclear yesterday.
“What’s really at the forefront here is the concern and compassion we have for the folks who found his comments out of line,’’ Donilon said. “We’ll kind of go day by day here, and we’ll be communicating with the parish at the appropriate time.’’
Carmen Durso of Boston, the lawyer for Szymanski’s alleged victims, said his clients are more interested in transparency and accountability than pursuing a monetary settlement from the archdiocese.
“My clients are reluctant to do that immediately until we know that other people who are out there have their say as well,’’ said Durso. After speaking with his clients, Durso said, he suspects that Szymanski might have abused many altar boys.
The abuse, he said, included fondling and other inappropriate touching in the sacristy before Mass. “They were kids who were so young they did not understand sexuality,’’ Durso said.
The alleged victim who criticized O’Malley said some parishioners and Holy Trinity staff members knew about the abuse.
“I would like to call out the people of that parish who were there,’’ the alleged victim said. “I’m talking about the clergymen. I’m talking about teachers, parents, and parishioners who were there who knew what was going on.’’ The man said Szymanski sexually abused him from 1983 to 1987, beginning when he was 6 years old.
“When you’re abused, it’s like this slow burning fire that kind of just runs hotter at certain times in your life and never really goes away,’’ the alleged victim said. “I’m looking for some peace and looking to put that fire out. This is about . . . taking accountability for myself and accountability for the organization that caused these things to happen to me.’’
Another alleged victim said he appreciated the cardinal’s gesture. However, he added, “No one seems to be really taking responsibility for Szymanski. It would be nice if the archdiocese would say, ‘OK, this guy was our responsibility.’ ’’
Szymanski, who was ordained in Poland, was not an archdiocesan priest but a member of the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit when he was named associate pastor at Holy Trinity Church, which serves the Polish community in the Lowell area.
His assignment ended in April 1987, five months before his death at age 45.
Durso said the case shows the archdiocese has fallen short of its pledges to be transparent and accountable in its dealing with allegedly abusive priests. Another alleged victim lodged a sexual-abuse complaint against Szymanski with the archdiocese in 2009, but it was never reported to the parish, Durso said.
Archdiocesan officials said they notified law enforcement officials and respected the complainant’s wishes about notification.
“The real story here is not about the poor pastor, who I think is sort of a fall guy in all this,’’ Durso said. “What should have happened in 2009 is what they did when they heard about the pastor making a statement: sent a bishop, sent a pastoral letter, and notified all the parishes.’’
MacQuarrie can be reached at email@example.com.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests