Why we don’t trust church investigations

He’s accused of molesting a teen, impregnating an adult parishioner twice, suggested an abortion, fathering a child and ignoring that child.

Catholic officials say they’re investigating all of this alleged wrongdoing by Fr. Henry Willenborg.   

A touching poem from a son about his mom

I’m grateful that so many of us whose souls were violated and whose voices were silenced by clergy sex crimes and cover ups have been able to use the arts to help ourselves heal. I’m also grateful that some who have done this share their creative, cathartic work with us at SNAP.  

Suggestion to Jack Dunn: Put up or shut up

By David Clohessy

I have some advice – and a request – for Jack Dunn, the Boston College PR guy who claims he’s unfairly portrayed in Spotlight. Show us the records.

I’m not unsympathetic to him. Like Dunn, I have kids. Like Dunn, I’d like them to know good things I’ve done. And like Dunn, I’m not keen on being misrepresented and misunderstood. So if a film portrayed me in a negative light, I’d certainly be upset.

But surely Dunn knows that Catholic church officials estimate more than 100,000 boys and girls in the US have been sexually violated by priests. Surely he knows that bishops have concealed and are concealing child sex crimes committed by hundreds or thousands of predatory priests, nuns, seminarians, brothers, teachers and fellow bishops.

The real agenda behind “healing masses”

By David Clohessy

In dioceses where the abuse and cover up crisis has been widely exposed, bishops often do a smart public relations move: they schedule “healing” masses. Bishop James Johnston is holding some of these in Kansas City. It’s worth looking at how one of his staff talks about them.

“There has always been a desire to do more outreach to try and help victims come back to the church, or at least see the church being empathetic and sorrowful,” said Kathleen Chastain, Johnston’s staffer who handles abuse.

Ponder this quote for a second. I’m grateful Ms. Chastain made this comment. Two parts of it leap out at me.

First, notice Chastain is NOT saying “We care.” She’s saying “We want victims to come back to the church.”

Second, she’s saying “We want victims to see the church being empathetic and sorrowful.” See, it’s not about reality. It’s about perception.

We’ve long felt these events are more about them than about us. Ms. Chastain’s comments reinforce our skepticism.

Mishandle child sex crimes & you get a statue

You can’t make this stuff up.

A Pennsylvania company makes and sells statues of Joe Paterno, the now-disgraced, widely-disgraced but still-beloved-by-some-Penn-Staters football coach who (among others) didn’t take sufficient steps to act on abuse suspicions about Jerry Sandusky.

The same company also make and sell statues of Pope Francis.

And a Duquesne Brewing Co. executive Mark Dudash, which produces something called Joe Paterno beer, believes his unexpectedly high sales are attributable to “a guardian angel up in heaven somewhere.”

When will we stop praising, honoring and rewarding powerful men who ignore, hide or enable heinous crimes against kids?

-"You may FEEL powerless, but. . ."

By David Clohessy

It may feel that way, but you’re NOT powerless

“I can’t prosecute. I can’t sue. I’m powerless.”

We hear some version of this from a survivor nearly every day.

It’s a horrible feeling: powerlessness.

It’s especially horrible if you’ve felt it before, when you were being abused.

Levada's arrest & stunning legal maneuver

By David Clohessy

Hundreds and hundreds of abuse survivors have talked with me over the past quarter century about their tough, tough struggles with addictions. So I took no pleasure when I read that the former second-highest ranking Vatican official was arrested in Hawaii on drunk driving charges.

But news reports identify Cardinal William Levada (an LA native who headed dioceses in Portland Oregon and San Francisco) as “the highest ranking American in the Vatican” at one point.

That’s true of course. But he was also head of the CDF, the church bureaucracy that enforces doctrine.

And before he was promoted to this post, he pulled perhaps the most hypocritical legal maneuver I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying a lot).

Here’s ex-LA Times journalist Bill Lobdell’s report:

A twist on the old "accused priest flees overseas"pattern

By David Clohessy

In a lot of ways, the new Fr. Manuel Gallo Espinoza case is much like the Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul case. But it’s worse.

Fr. Jeyapaul generated international headlines when he was pled guilty this summer – after a long, hard extradition process - to sexually assaulting a Minnesota girl in the Crookston diocese. (Thanks to the courage of another victim, Megan Peterson.)


Milwaukee archbishop two new troubling comments

Two remarks by Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki show just how deceptive and callous he is.

First, he said “Nothing can be enough to restore, basically, what was lost to the victims."

Lost? We didn’t “lose” our childhoods and faith and trust and joy. They were stolen from us by clerics who committed and concealed heinous crimes.

Second, he pledged to “take a look at” removing the bas-relief in the cathedral showing disgraced and resigned Archbishop Rembert Weakland alongside children.

Take a look at? Listecki claims he wants healing. Then why delay removing cathedral showing disgraced Archbishop Rembert Weakland alongside children? We'll never know how many kids were hurt on Weakland's watch because he shrewdly and consistently hid predator priests and his own expensive, hurtful sexual misdeeds.

Equitable? Huh?

by David Clohessy

Bankruptcy “is the best way to fairly and equitably compensate victims. . .ensuring that all are treated equitably.”

Milwaukee Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki, June 2011

“575 individuals came forward. 240 of them will get nothing. And 92 others will get about $2,000 each.”

National Catholic Reporter, August 2015

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