The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Bishop Levada's Appointment
to Major Vatican Post


May 13, 2005

Statement by Dan McNevin, SNAP Bay Area Spokesman

"We're very disappointed that Levada has been chosen. It's an insensitive and unwise decision. Regarding abuse in the San Francisco archdiocese, Levada has been slow to act, harsh to victims, and committed to secrecy.

A therapist who headed his review board quit in protest, essentially saying church investigations of molestation amounted to a PR sham.

He has allowed credibly accused priests to remain in ministry even while facing pending civil molestation lawsuits.

His lawyer has negotiated deals with local district attorneys that help keep abuses cases quiet.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith is among the most important positions within the Vatican hierarchy. It is the policy-enforcing arm of the Pope. It handles the defrocking of abusive clergy.

Specifics about Levada:

-- James Jenkins, a psychologist, quit Levada's review panel, calling Levada's actions with regard to clergy sex abuse "shameful.' Jenkins stated that Levada used the panel as an "elaborate public relations scheme' and indicated that the hierarchy of the San Francisco Archdiocese under Levada is in a "state of corruption" and that Levada has created a "culture of silence" around the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

-- Up to 20 priests accused of sexual abuse live in secrecy in the San Francisco Archdiocese. Bishop Levada refuses to reveal their names or locations. SNAP fears they live in neighborhoods among children. (see link)

-- Five weeks ago SNAP revealed that a priest currently named in a civil sexual abuse lawsuit against a youngster remains in ministry in San Francisco. His name is Steve Whelan and he is the Associate Pastor at St. Peter’s & Paul’s church. Levada has ignored calls to suspend him.

-- Last year Levada supported the appointment of San Francisco Attorney Joe Rusionelli to the US Conference of Bishops National Review Board for Clergy Sex Abuse. Rusionelli said in the press that sex abuse survivors can be "deranged, angry, vengeful."

The Vatican needs transparency, not silence, corruption or secrecy.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Dan McNevin SNAP Bay Area Media Spokesperson 415 341 6417
David Clohessy SNAP National Executive Director 314 566 9790
Mary Grant SNAP Board Member 626-419-2930
Terrie Light: SNAP Board Member 510 517 3338

Letter SNAP sent to Levada last week:

May 5, 2005

Archbishop William Levada
Archdiocese of San Francisco
One Peter Yorke Way
San Francisco, CA

Hand Delivered

Dear Bp. Levada:

As members of SNAP (The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests), we are troubled that at least two priests alleged to have sexually abused children apparently continue in ministry in a San Francisco Church. Six weeks ago we delivered to your office a request to suspend Fr. Steven Whelan from St. Peter's and Paul's Church in North beach. On March 25, 2005, you called Dan McNevin, East Bay SNAP Coordinator, and expressed your intent to remove Fr. Whelan. To our knowledge such removal has not occurred. The letter notifying you of Whelan's civil suit, dated March 23, 2005, is provided here.

Moreover, we have learned that Fr. Harold Danielson, also accused and named in a civil lawsuit, is working at the same church. And, we've learned that at the Salesian provincial house at 1100 Franklin Street in San Francisco, at least four other Salesians accused or convicted of child abuse are residing without notice to neighbors, local schools or parents. At least one is working and could be in touch with the general public (Fr. Bernard Dabbenne, a convicted sex offender).

In the interest of openness, healing, and prevention, we urge you to reach out to anyone who may have been abused or witnessed abuse by these accused or convicted abusive Salesian Order clergy. Their names are:

Fr. Bernard Dabbene (convicted sex offender)
Bro. Sal Billante (convicted sex offender)
Fr. Larry Lorenzoni (named in civil suit)
Fr. Harold Danielson (named in civil suit & reported to be working at St. Peter's North beach)
Bro. Ernie Martinez (named in civil suit)
Fr. Jim Miani (named in civil suit)
Fr. Richard Presenti (named in civil suit)
Fr. Steve Whelan. (Named in a civil suit and associate pastor of St. Peter's North beach)

We urge three prompt steps: First, suspend those still in ministry. That would be a preventative measure to potentially stop further abuses by these men.

Second, reach out to heal those already severely wounded by these trusted leaders. "Making amends," a stated goal of the Salisian statement about clergy sex abuse, is impossible without outreach.

Third, confirm to SNAP and the public that the Order, which resides in San Francisco with the Bishop's permission, is in fact offering care and assistance to all abuse survivors who have already come forward. Use your moral authority as leader of the Archdiocese to make sure abuse survivors are getting help, and that the Salisians are offering something more than lip service to this issue.

We are specifically urging you to:

-Use the Archdiocesan website, newspaper and newsletters to post the names of all known and suspected abusers. This step will reach out to victims and warn parents.

- Publicly reach out through the secular news media to past students who attended the school and ask if they were abused.

- Suspend priests credibly accused of abuse and announce it publicly.

The fact that these allegedly dangerous men work or/live in the Archdiocese in generally public capacities should be of grave concern. Awareness that other known or suspected abusers are congregated in a San Francisco neighborhood also should be of grave concern.

We urge you to take prompt steps now to try to reach out in healing, prevention and openness.

We look forward to your response.

Dan McNevin
415 341 6417

Joe Piscatelli
925-262 3699


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests