Geneva- Resounding 'win' for kids at the UN-what's next?

For immediate release: Friday, May 23, 2014

Statement by Mary Caplan of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (917 439 4187, [email protected])

Here is the bottom line in the new UN committee report which severely criticizes the Vatican.

Ever so gradually, brave victims and secular authorities are putting an end to centuries of impunity, immunity, and selfishness by Catholic officials in rampant and devastating cases of clergy sexual violence and cover ups.

An independent group of experts has concluded that the Vatican has not done its duty to prevent, punish and redress torture and ill treatment - because of how Catholic officials enable clergy sexual violence against kids and their refusal to stop and punish it. 

As Reuters reports, the UN panel “rejected the Vatican's position that the Holy See has jurisdiction only in the tiny Vatican City State.” Pope Francis should be ashamed that his top aides made and still make this transparently self-serving claim.

(In a news conference today, Committee chair Claudio Grossman said that it is a “settled thing in international law” as “old as bread and butter” that “the violation of the convention is not exclusively related to things that happen in your own territory” but extends to actions under a country’s jurisdiction or “effective control.”)

And as the Associated Press reports “the panel's 10 independent experts. . .referred to rape and sexual violence, which clearly falls within the treaty's mandate” and “Vatican officials failed to report abuse charges properly, moved priests rather than discipline them. . .”;_ylt=AwrBJR.aV39TIxYAgYzQtDMD 

But in an odd attempt to spin or a shockingly wrong-headed reading of the UN report, the Vatican's Archbishop Silvano Tomasi denies this, claiming (according to the Wall Street Journal) that “the committee didn't find violations of the convention against torture.”;_ylt=AwrBJR.aV39TIxYAgYzQtDMD 

The New York Times reports that “Panel members bluntly contradicted that assertion.” 

Tomasi's claim is also directly contradicted by Felice Gaer, the vice chair of the UN panel, who said in a news conference today ( ) “Legal scholars will tell you that when the committee addresses a problem and makes a recommendation it sees the State as not meeting the requirements of the convention.  We gave 8 pages of conclusions and many of them are quite specific naming cases and naming other problems, in dealing with issues ranging from investigations, to redress to transfer and a very long paragraph 10 about the failure to prevent torture and ill-treatment. So I think you have your answer in front of you."

Finally, we are especially gratified that the UN panel stresses not just wrongdoing by those who perpetrate sexual violence but also those who enable sexual violence. The committee emphasized that any act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture is an offense.

The panel urges that church officials “react properly to credible allegations of abuse” and those who don't should be “subject(ed) to meaningful sanctions,” which virtually every bishop – and the last three popes – are completely refusing to do. Such sanctions should include, the panel says “dismissal from clerical service,” which again, virtually never happens. 

Heinous and degrading child rape, mistreatment, assault and torture keeps happening in the church. Those who could stop it won't. And they aren't punished. It's reassuring to us that the committee shares our view that this is one reason child sexual violence and cover-ups continue. 

The message to the Vatican is clear: Discipline your employees who ignore, hide and enable child sex crimes. Until that happens - not once or twice but many times – little or nothing will change in the church. 

And the message to secular authorities is clear: Clergy sexual violence and cover ups continue. Until more police, prosecutors and governmental bodies act more aggressively, more lives will be devastated. 

(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 25 years and have more than 18,000 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 

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])



Showing 3 comments

  • Annette Kissell Nestler
    commented 2014-05-23 19:40:45 -0500
    This is very good news for victims/survivors and their families. Please consider signing and sharing the SOL REFORM with a “SURVIVOR WINDOW” petition, I started, for New Jersey. Also, consider starting a movement/petition, in your area. Victims/Survivors and their families, rise up and proudly tell your stories. Join us in healing, TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT!!!
  • Michael Ference
    commented 2014-05-23 14:30:26 -0500
    The Roman Coward Church lives in a topsy-turby world where evil, somehow rises to the top all too often for the wrong reasons.

    June 1, 2010, Cardinal George appointed Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. to the board of the US Bishop’s conference that oversees celrgy sex abuse cases. Sadly, no background check was made of the Zappala Crime Family/Terrorist Group. Here’s some background information a friend dug up in her spare time on the Zappala’s. There’s much more, but this does a good job in explaining why Cardinal George wanted a little more mob-muscle behind the US Bishop’s Conference.

    Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone, and let he whose family hath been a sin-machine for generations, be banned from casting any stones. I’m talking about the Zappala’s. What does Mike Ference mean when he calls the Zappala’s a “Crime Family/Terrorist Group”. I am a genealogist, I can tell you, I have done my homework. And I have the documents to back up what I say.

    Let’s begin at the beginning, Frank Zappala was DA Stephen Zappala’s grand-father. Frank’s parents were immigrants from Calabria, who first settled in New York, the Bronx on Mott Street. Frank Zappala got a law degree, which was unusual at that time for an Italian Immigrant. Most Italian immigrants then had little or no education. Frank and his wife Josephhine settled in Oakland. The rest of his family were in New Kensington, a stronghold for the gangsters of that time.

    Frank’s had a sister Rose who married John Bazzano a major racketeer. Racketeer John Bazzano was the Uncle of Chief Justice Stephen Zappala. In 1932, John Bazzano got angry about the popular Volpe brothers infringing on his racketeering territory, so he had three of them killed in broad daylight on Wylie Avenue in the Hill-District section of Pittsburgh.

    Bazzano’s murder of the Volpe’s was not sanctioned by Lucky Luciano in New York. Bazzano was called to New York to answer for murdering without permission. Charles “Lucky” Luciano’s underboss Vito Genovese, a very brutal man had Albert Anastasia, whose side business was Murder Inc. whack John Bazzano brutally for misbehaving. And quite a Brutal Whacking it was. Bazzano came back to Pittsburgh with 22 stab wounds from ice picks, a dead pin cushion.

    It was also quiet a scandal in the day, both in New York and in Pittsburgh. Rose Zappala retreated to New Kensington with her children in tow, as well as her father Joseph. Eventually her son John Bazzano Jr. took up his father’s business. John Jr, married into the Ripepi Crime family. He married Frances Ripepi.

    One of her sisters married into the Valenti Crime family which included Constenzo, Stanley Valenti and Frank Valenti. It was Stanley who married the Ripepi girl, but it was Frank Valenti who was the man.. dapper, charming, good looking and deadly. Stanley and Frank due to their marriages were into both the Pittsburgh and Rochester New York Rackets.

    One of Franks favorite schemes was to blow up a building on one side of Rochester while he was committing a crime on the other side of town. At the time, these bombings got blamed on the Vietnam Hippie Protesters. Frank let them take the rap. Frank lived a long life and died in Houston Tx in 2008.

    In Western Pennsylvania at this time the Western PA crime family was the LaRocca Family. There were about 8 or 9 chief families under the LaRoccas. Of those the Zappala’s are closely related to at least three.

    How do the Zappala’s factor into all of this? They were the lawyers in the family. All I can say here is that when I read about other crime organizations that span this time frame, there is always what they called an Ambassador of the Underworld, who bridged the underworld to the upper-world. The job of these ambassadors was to grease the way of illegitimate business to legitimate business, and provided protection.

    For instance when you read of Frank Valenti crimes in Rochester it usually says that the powers in Pittsburgh got him off the hook. Let’s’ take it a step further, DA Zappala’s law partner was Charles Porter, he is Chuckie Porter’s son. Chuckie Porter was huge in the Pittsburgh rackets working with Michael Genovese as his underboss. Michael was the nephew of Vito Genovese in New York who was mentioned above.
    Chuckie Porter was also one of the biggest cocaine distributors around. That is a lot of “Family”. It is way too much to all be a coincidence.

    Why is this kept quiet? Well let me put it this way, many people know about this, Italians know, people in power know, the average person who votes does not know though. They have a right to know. If all of this were made public, it would kill a political career. It is UN-survivable.

    If there was nothing here to hide, why are the Zappala’s hiding it? The bigger question is, how on God’s Green earth, do people who climbed their way to the top this way deserve to sit in judgment of anybody.

    And why is it not being pointed out that DA Stephen Zappala, through his witch hunt, show trials, which destroy peoples’ lives and the fabric of our community, is acting just like his Chief Justice father did, when he wanted to get his political opponent Judge Larsen out of the way.

    These political assassinations are no different at all, except in method, than racketeer John Bazzano whacking the Volpe Brothers in broad daylight on Wylie Avenue, because they were doing business on his “turf”, which threatened his business interests. I say, the next time the Zappala’s run for office, “out” their family tree to the public and let the public decide.
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