Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Abuse victims blast Catholic group & “papal preacher”

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, [email protected])

It’s callous for New Orleans Catholics and church officials to welcome a high ranking church official (Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa) who, just a year ago, made incredibly hurtful public comments that upset Jewish leaders and clergy sex abuse victims.

Last April, according to the Associated Press, Cantalamessa “likened accusations against the pope and the Catholic church in the sex abuse scandal to ‘collective violence’ suffered by the Jews.”

At the time, a German Jewish leader called Cantalamessa’s comments “repulsive, obscene and most of all offensive toward all abuse victims as well as to all the victims of the Holocaust." It was a shameless effort to shield his boss from legitimate criticism over the Pope’s involvement in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases.

We call on New Orleans Catholic officials to denounce Cantalamessa’s intemperate and hurtful remarks. And we call on Cantalamessa to apologize for his insensitivity.

(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 23 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

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Garnett Bedenbaugh

H: 985-345-1566; C: 985-974-6092, 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])


Rev. Cantalamessa, papal preacher, will speak at two events this week

Monday, May 09, 2011, 11:30 AM By Eva Jacob Barkoff, The Times-Picayune

Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, official preacher to the papal household, will visit the New Orleans area this week for two speaking events.

On Tuesday at , 2 p.m., he will address priests and seminarians in St. Joseph Abbey Church, near Covington.

And on Wednesday, at 7:30 pm, Cantalamessa will be the featured speaker at St. Benilde Church, 1901 Division St., Metairie, as the guest of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans. (CCRNO) The theme of the Mass is "Preparing for a New Pentecost."

Cantalamessa has been the papal preacher since 1980. In this capacity, he gives a weekly sermon every Advent and Lent to the pope, curia officials, and major religious superiors.

He is also a renowned theologian, prolific author, and popular speaker whose travels have brought him all over the world.

Cantalamessa has been involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal since 1977 and has written and preached extensively on the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church today.

For more information, call the CCRNO office in Metairie at 504.828.1368 or go to the website

Pope's Preacher Sets off Storm of Anger

By Victor L. Simpson, Detroit Free Press, April 3, 2010

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher on Friday likened accusations against the pope and the Catholic church in the sex abuse scandal to "collective violence" suffered by the Jews.

Reaction from Jewish groups and victims of clerical sex abuse ranged from skepticism to fury.

The Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa said in a Good Friday homily, with the pope listening in St. Peter's Basilica, that a Jewish friend wrote to him to say the accusations remind him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."

Thousands of Holy Week pilgrims were in St. Peter's Square as the church defends itself against accusations that Benedict had a role in covering up sex abuse cases.

With Passover falling in the same week as Easter celebrations, Cantalamessa was prompted to think about Jews, said the preacher, a Franciscan who offers reflections at Vatican Easter and Advent services.

"They know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms," the preacher said.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Cantalamessa's remarks were not the official position of the church.

An angry response

Stephan Kramer, general-secretary of Germany's Central Council of Jews, said Cantalamessa's remarks were "a so-far-unheard-of insolence."

"It is repulsive, obscene and most of all offensive toward all abuse victims as well as to all the victims of the Holocaust," Kramer said. "So far I haven't seen St. Peter burning, nor were there outbursts of violence against Catholic priests. I'm without words. The Vatican is now trying to turn the perpetrators into victims."

Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, U.S. director of interreligious relations for the American Jewish Committee, called the comments "an unfortunate use of language."

"The collective violence against the Jews resulted in the death of 6 million, while the collective violence spoken of here has not led to murder and destruction, but perhaps character assault," Greenebaum said.

Quoting from the letter from the Jewish friend, who wasn't identified by Cantalamessa, the preacher said that the friend was following " 'with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful of the whole world.' "

" 'The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism,' " Cantalamessa said his friend wrote him.

Skirting the issue

In the sermon, he referred to the sexual abuse of children by clergy, saying that, "unfortunately, not a few elements of the clergy are stained" by the violence. But Cantalamessa said he didn't want to dwell on the abuse of children, saying "there is sufficient talk outside of here."

Peter Isely, the Milwaukee-based director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, denounced the anti-Semitism analogy as "reckless and irresponsible."

"They're sitting in the papal palace, they're experiencing a little discomfort, and they're going to compare themselves to being rounded up or lined up and sent in cattle cars to Auschwitz?" he said. "You cannot be serious."

Benedict didn't speak after the homily, but, in a tired-sounding voice, chanted prayers. He leaned up to remove a red cloth covering a tall crucifix, which was passed to him by an aide. He took off his shoes, knelt and prayed before the cross.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests