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Angry Catholics Wanted to Burn the Church. He Came to Save It.

LA ROMAINE (CANADA)New York Times [New York NY] June 13, 2024 By Norimitsu Onishi   The Rev. Gérard Tsatselam boarded the ferryboat and settled in his usual place, on a reclining seat, at the back of a cold, unlit room that would have been packed in summer. Uneasy, he sat shrouded in his large, black coat as high winter winds delayed the boat’s arrival in the village where he was trying to save the church. Except for a quick stopover for a funeral, he had not visited his parish — in Unamen Shipu, an Indigenous reserve on the frigid, isolated coast of northeastern Quebec — in months. Mold had invaded the presbytery and left him scrambling for lodging on each visit. Another reason behind his unease was the enduring fallout from the accusations of sexual and other abuse by a predecessor, a Belgian priest. Though the transgressions dated back decades, during what Father Gérard called the Roman Catholic Church’s “colonial” era, dealing with the parishioners’ anger and distrust had fallen to him — a priest and missionary from the Central African nation of Cameroon. Father Gérard had been Unamen Shipu’s priest for four years, and his predecessor long dead, when the accusations were leveled in 2017. “The moment they came out, the dynamics changed,” he had said before boarding. “There’s a before and an after.” He had watched, helplessly, as most of his parishioners broke with the church. Now, returning to Unamen Shipu, Father Gérard planned to comfort his dwindling flock and restore the faith of those who had left. He would try to assuage the rage that had fueled threats to burn down the presbytery and to cast his predecessor’s body into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. “It’s a complex terrain,” Father Gérard said. “People are still Christian. They’re religious, they believe, they still have faith. But they’re really hurting a lot.” “Too much,” he added after a pause, so softly it was easy to miss.

Credibly accused abusers still being hidden by St. Paul’s archbishop

These clerics were in the Twin Cities archdiocese. (Two may be here now; their whereabouts are unknown.) Each of them --has been publicly deemed a ‘credibly accused’ abuser by other Catholic officials, --are on ‘credibly accused’ abusers lists on other official church websites. But Twin Cities Archbishop Bernard Hebda refuses to admit their wrongdoing or put their names on his online ‘credibly accused’ abusers list. (All of the information below comes from one or more of the following sources: court records, church documents and/or mainstream media accounts.)

Kansas Catholic officials disclose child sexual abuse accusations against a long-time priest "substantiated;" SNAP weighs in

Kansas Catholic officials disclosed this week that child sexual abuse accusations against a long-time priest have been found "substantiated." We find it very disturbing that the accusations were first disclosed in 2004, yet the cleric remained in active ministry until his retirement in 2013, and likely continued to work as a supply priest in the following years. The clergyman was not placed on the Diocese's list of abusers until this week. We know that false accusations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare, and that those who prey on children rarely stop on their own. Our hearts ache for all the young lives that may have been endangered over the past 20 years. The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, announced on May 27, 2024, that Father Roderic Giller, OSB, who retired from parish ministry in July 2013, was the subject of "substantiated allegations" of sexual abuse of children during the time he was working at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca. Shockingly, the Archdiocese and Abbey admitted that they first received those accusations in July 2004.

Fresno Catholic bishop will file for bankruptcy in August; SNAP reacts

For Immediate Release: May 28, 2024 The Fresno Diocese announced today that it will file for bankruptcy in August.  SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, urges Bishop Joseph V. Brennan to reconsider this scorched earth legal tactic. Bankruptcy is not the only way to achieve fair recoveries in all of the lawsuits against the Diocese. In the last window, universal agreements were reached between the Church and survivors and their attorneys, without the draconian consequences that bankruptcy will bring along with it. In a bankruptcy, those who have filed lawsuits become “creditors.” The court will allow a certain period of time for other “creditors” – that is other victims -- to come forward. However, once the bankruptcy proceeds to its conclusion, anyone abused before the filing date who did not come forward by the bar date is forever barred from filing a lawsuit for damages. This would include those who do not yet remember their abuse, those who do not yet understand the impact it has had on their life, those who are not yet ready to speak out, and – most disturbingly -- those children who are too young to understand that they need to file a claim before the bar date. Despite persistent claims from Church officials that child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions as a "thing of the past, this year SNAP has seen, on average, at least 4 news reports per month about the arrest of clergy or staffers for sexual abuse or misconduct. Whatever reforms have been made in the Diocese of Fresno, there is no sure-fire way to identify potential abusers, and predators are attracted to faith communities because people have their guard down. We can safely say that today’s Catholic children remain at risk of being hurt in their parishes or schools.  Most victims come forward between the ages of 50-70, but for those children being hurt in the Fresno Diocese today, this bankruptcy would deny them any chance of restitution for their life-long injuries.

NEWS CONF MON 6/17- Clergy sex abuse victims blast SD bishop

Clergy sex abuse victims blast SD bishop They call his new legal move “frightening” SNAP: “It’s just one more way of hiding predators” Diocese seeks Chapter 11 protection & end to lawsuits WHAT Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will --harshly criticize San Diego’s bishop for using bankruptcy court to “keep clergy sex abuse secrets secret and prevent abuse survivors from having their day in court,” and --beg him to give victims a longer time to come forward, and not push for a tight deadline which re-victimizes many. They will also call on --Catholics to pressure top Catholic officials to “stop playing legal hardball” and fighting victims, --other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to step forward and report known and suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups “so that kids receive protection and victims receive justice and healing,” and --police, prosecutors and other officials to work “harder and smarter.”   WHEN Monday, June 17 at 11:00 am WHERE On the sidewalk outside the US Federal Courthouse on F Street (between State and Union on north side) in downtown San Diego WHO Three-four survivors of sexual assault by Catholic clerics, including a San Diego man who is the local leader for SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and a LA-area woman who is a widely-known survivor, advocate and public speaker

NEWS CONF WED 6/12- Abuse victims blast St. Paul archbishop

Abuse victims blast St. Paul archbishop SNAP: ‘He’s hiding at least six predator priests’ Two of them are alive & could be around here, the group says Church officials elsewhere say they’re ‘credibly accused’ abusers Other bishops have already posted their names on Catholic websites ‘But Abp. Hebda’s hiding them,’ SNAP says ‘And who knows how many others?’ Activists will write the clerics’ names on the sidewalk using chalk WHAT Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will -- blast the Twin Cities Catholic archbishop for ‘hiding’ at least six ‘credibly accused’ child molesting priests, even though they have already been declared ‘credibly accused’ by bishops elsewhere and they’re named as abusers on other church websites, and -- strongly urge the archbishop to add the names of six alleged child molesting clerics to his website. They will also --use chalk to write the names of the credibly accused priests on the sidewalk, --beg Catholics to push top church officials to be ‘more open & honest’ about abusers and --prod anyone who has ‘seen, suspected or suffered’ crimes by any Catholic employee or volunteer to ‘come forward to trusted sources of help, like friends, family, therapists, police, prosecutors or support groups – not church officials.’ WHEN Wednesday, June 12 at 1:30 p.m. WHERE On the sidewalk outside St. Paul Cathedral, 239 Selby Ave. in St Paul WHO Four-five child sex abuse victims including a Missouri man who for 30 years headed a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) and a local man who’s the organization’s long-time Minnesota director WHY ---1) Using court filings, church records, bishops’ websites and mainstream media accounts, SNAP has discovered and is disclosing the names of six publicly and 'credibly accused' abusive priests who are or were in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Archdiocese. But they have attracted little or no media attention here and remain largely ‘under the radar.’ That’s because Twin Cities church officials refuse to disclose and post their names, even though each of the six have been declared ‘credibly accused’ abusers by church officials elsewhere and are on diocesan websites elsewhere. (See more detail below)

Abuse victims blast La Crosse Catholic officials re: secrecy

Victims blast La Crosse bishop on abuse SNAP: He leaves several predators off his ‘accused’ list One priest pleaded ‘no contest’ to child sex crimes in 2021 The cleric also admitted 'sexual contact' Yet church officials refuse to acknowledge his wrongdoing “At least five other clerics should be added,” group says SNAP: Young woman’s pending civil suit attracts no attention WHAT Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims will --blast top La Crosse Catholic officials for leaving several “proven, admitted or credibly accused” child molesting clerics off their ‘credibly accused’ abusers list, including a recently admitted and convicted offender, --urge the new La Crosse bishop to add the names of the accused abusers, and --prod anyone who has ‘seen, suspected or suffered’ crimes by any Catholic employee or volunteer to ‘come forward as soon as possible to trusted sources of help, like friends, family, therapists, police, prosecutors or support groups – not church officials.’ WHEN Tuesday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. WHERE On the sidewalk outside St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral, 530 Main Street (corner of 6th) in downtown La Crosse WI WHO Two child sex abuse victims including a Missouri man who for 30 years headed a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org)

Take Action and Stop Child Sexual Abuse

If you see child sexual abuse, or have a reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse or your child has been sexually abused, call 911 or your local police immediately. 

If you suspect abuse, call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or visit the Child Help Hotline. Trained crisis operators staff the lines 24/7 to answer your questions. If necessary, they will show you how to report in your local area.

Child pornography is a federal crime. If you see or suspect images that may be child pornography, report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTip Line

 

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