The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, December 20, 2010
Sex abuse victims to O’Malley: “Discipline pastor”
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])
Cardinal O’Malley’s ‘apology’ to Lowell parishioners is inadequate. He needs to severely discipline Monsignor Stanislaw Kempa.
Kempa called courageous, deeply wounded clergy sex abuse victims “cowards.” He knowingly contributed to a long-standing church culture and practice of intimidating child sex abuse victims.
Apologies are quick, easy, and ineffective. One reason so many Catholic officials continue to act recklessly and callously about abuse is because no Catholic official is ever disciplined, no matter how hurtful his words or deeds are. If you are a Catholic cleric, you can virtually do or say anything about abuse victims or predators and be confident that you’ll never lose a day’s pay. This must change but won’t change if O’Malley responds to Kempa’s egregious wrong-doing by merely apologizing to his flock.
(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 22 years and have more than 10,000 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 SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Boston cardinal apologizes for 'cowards' comment
Dec 20, 2010 8:31am
LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has apologized to parishioners at a Lowell Roman Catholic church after a priest called several men "cowards" for accusing the church's former pastor of abuse.
Bishop Peter Uglietto (oog-lee-ETT'-oh) on Sunday read a letter from O'Malley to parishioners at Holy Trinity Church.
The Sun of Lowell reports that the letter was in response to Monsignor Stanislaw Kempa who on Dec. 11 took to the pulpit to lash out at three former altar boys, now in their 30s, who alleged abuse at the hands of the Rev. Czeslaw Szymanski (shesh-LAV' sih-MAN'-skee) in the 1980s.
Szymanski, who was never charged, has since died.
O'Malley said using the pulpit as a "platform for harmful words" was inappropriate.
An archdiocese spokesman says Kempa has taken responsibility.
Archdiocese apologizes for Lowell pastor's criticism of abuse allegations
By Lisa Redmond and Robert Mills, Sun Staff 12/19/2010
LOWELL -- On Dec. 11, Monsignor Stanislaw Kempa stood at the pulpit at Holy Trinity Church and called several unidentified men "cowards" for accusing the church's former pastor of abusing them decades ago.
Yesterday afternoon, a high-ranking bishop with the Archdiocese of Boston was sent to the parish to read a letter of personal apology from Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
Bishop Peter Uglietto celebrated Mass in place of pastor Kempa in the church at 340 High St., reading the letter aloud before about 50 parishioners. He said O'Malley wished to read the letter himself but was unable to attend.
"I want to express my deepest apology to all that the pulpit, a place reserved for the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God, was used as a platform for harmful words to be expressed against members of this parish," O'Malley wrote in the letter, copies of which were handed out to each parishioner.
O'Malley wrote the letter after Kempa took to the pulpit on Dec. 11 and lashed out at three men, now in their 30s, who accused the late Rev. Czeslaw "Father Chet" Szymanski of sexually abusing them.
Attorney Carmen Durso, who represents the three men, announced the abuse allegations at a press conference on Dec. 9.
Kempa addressed his congregation during Mass two days later and blasted the allegations.
Yesterday, Durso said Kempa "inappropriately expressed his personal beliefs at Mass that the three (alleged) victims were cowards and their accusations were not credible."
"The clerical antagonism and apparent indifference toward victims of sexual abuse, even when faced with substantial evidence, is one of the principal reasons why it remains so difficult for victims to come forward," Durso said. "It is for this reason why these young men have chose not to use their actual names."
Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, yesterday called Kempa's actions "unauthorized and unacceptable."
Donilon said Kempa has met with his superiors in the archdiocese and "has taken responsibility for his hurtful actions."
Donilon said Kempa has not been reassigned, but that "the archdiocese continues to work with Monsignor Kempa to address this matter."
Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will "work to resolve" the claims against Szymanski "in accordance with its policies. The archdiocese has offered counseling to the individuals who have come forward and will proceed in a manner that is just and respectful of survivors' pastoral needs."
O'Malley went a step further yesterday in responding to Kempa's comments, sending the regional vicar, the Rev. Arthur Coyle, and Barbara Thorp, director of the archdiocese's office of pastoral support and outreach, to the church along with Uglietto.
O'Malley's letter informed the congregation that Thorp would be on hand after Mass to help anyone with concerns related to the allegations. His letter also provided her phone number and e-mail address.
After Durso's Dec. 9 press conference, the archdiocese acknowledged that another person had previously made a complaint against Szymanski.
Since the press conference, Durso said three additional unidentified alleged victims have contacted him to say they also were sexually assaulted by Szymanski.
While he was not a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston -- he was ordained in Poland by the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit -- Szymanski served as associate pastor at Holy Trinity Parish from 1981 until he was reassigned in April 1987. He was killed in a car accident on Sept. 24, 1987, in Albany, N.Y. He was 45.
Szymanski was never charged in connection with these allegations.
Parishioners at Holy Trinity expressed support for Kempa after Mass yesterday, though none agreed to provide their names.
"He's a good man," said one woman as she walked to her car.
An elderly couple, who said they have attended the church for decades, also described Kempa as a good man who helped the church stave off closure. They said they support Kempa, and hope to see him back in the parish.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests