NH Catholic woman honored by clergy sex abuse victims

  • She decried Catholic hierarchy’s cover-ups & helped victims.
  • Reform-minded lay group & victims organization praise her.
  • Her devotion to personal support and public advocacy is a model for Catholics, SNAP says.

The largest international support and advocacy organization for victims of child sexual abuse is honoring a New Hampshire woman for her outstanding and tireless support of clergy sex abuse victims.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), is giving Merrimack resident Carolyn Disco its highest award, Layperson of the Year, at the group's national conference in Washington, D.C. in July.

Disco, who is a lay Catholic, is active in the national Catholic reform group Voice of the Faithful. Within that organization, she has provided one-on-one support to clergy sex abuse victims coming forward for the first time, worked with the media to publicize sex abuse and cover-up within the Catholic Church, educated Catholics about the crisis, and urged lawmakers to pass anti-crime bills that protect children from abuse. Disco also called repeatedly for the removal of Bishops John McCormack and Francis Christian for their endangerment of children, joining in the first known canon law case by laity to the Vatican to censure complicit bishops.

"Few Catholics take the huge risks that Carolyn has to speak out for the wounded," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director. "Unlike so many who just sit idly and hope that bishops do the right thing, Carolyn stood up and took action. She is a living agent for change."

Disco’s selfless devotion to justice and accountability for victims has been also been recognized by Voice of the Faithful, who gave her their St. Catherine of Siena Award in 2007. In her acceptance speech for the St. Catherine of Siena award, she demanded that bishops take full responsibility for their hands-on role in the cover-up of child sex abuse and the public release of all secret sex abuse and cover-up documents.

"Not only does she have a wealth of knowledge about the laws and culture of the Catholic Church," Clohessy said, "but even when she faced family obligations or health problems, her devotion to victims and her willingness to help never wavered."

Disco will accept SNAP's award in Washington DC on July 9, 2011.

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For more information: David Clohessy, SNAP National Director, 314 566 9790, [email protected].

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant