Victims Seek Church Whistleblowers

Victims seek church whistleblowers

Their case against Vatican in world court is still pending

Top church officials are accused of “crimes v. humanity

SNAP: "Current & former Catholic employees MUST speak up"

Pope can’t fix crisis alone, every one in church needs to act,” victims say


Holding signs and childhood photos at a news conference, a child sex abuse victim and advocate will

---call on current and former Catholic employees to “break their silence” and tell law enforcement officials what they know and suspect regarding child sex crimes and cover ups in the church, and

---discuss an unprecedented and still-pending case in the International Criminal Court against top Vatican officials for “crimes against humanity.”


Monday, March 18 at 11:00 a.m.


Orange Hotel, 86 Via Crescenzio 00193, Roma +39.06.6868969


A child sex abuse victim from the US, who is a leader of the US-based international support group SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( Three of his brothers were also molested by the same priest. One of his brothers went on to become a priest and molest children.


An international support group for victims of clergy abuse is calling on church officials with knowledge or suspicions of child sex crimes and cover-ups in the church to “break their silence, call outside sources and help protect kids.”

Leaders of SNAP are calling on current or former Italian Catholic employees – particularly who work or have worked in the Vatican – to “share what they know or believe about church corruption and complicity – however old or slight or seemingly insignificant it may seem – with outside sources, especially law enforcement, watchdog NGOs and governmental inquiries.

SNAP will also discuss the unprecedented and still-pending case it has filed, with the help of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to hold top Catholic officials accountable for clergy abuse cover-ups before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

The case will proceed, SNAP says, regardless of Pope Benedict’s retirement and Pope Francis’ election.

The complaint seeks an investigation by the ICC prosecutor (Fatou B. Bensouda of Gambia) and alleges that top-ranking Vatican officials are committing crimes against humanity, including abetting and covering up the rape and sexual assault of children by clerics. Individual defendants named in the case include Benedict, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (current Vatican Secretary of State), Cardinal Angelo Sodano  (current Dean of the College of Cardinals), Cardinal William Levada (former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

SNAP and the CCR filed the case against Vatican officials in September 2011. In April 2012, the two groups submitted a supplemental filing to the court. In the initial filing, more than 20,000 pages of evidence were included. After the case was announced, SNAP heard from more than 500 new survivors from more than 60 countries.

“What we learned from the ICC case is that the crimes and cover ups are indeed current and global, and that victims across the world will step forward, if they believe that somehow their courage will result in greater safety for kids,” said David Clohessy, SNAP Director. “If some of those within the church who had information could come forward, this case could result in even more victims finding their voice and more crimes being exposed.”

SNAP believes that in order for the culture of secrecy to change, it must begin with those who have inside information coming forward.

“Whistleblowers are critical,” said Clohessy “and we beg anyone who has information to come forward, now, and begin to end this age-old pattern of putting prelate’s reputations ahead of children’s safety.”

In order to encourage whistleblowers to come forward, SNAP is also asking the Pope to create a “whistleblower fund” that would compensate any church employee – from cardinal to custodian – who comes forward with information about abuse, at least information that leads to successful criminal prosecution.

“We shouldn’t have to incentivize coming forward about the abuse of a child, but if it will help prevent abuse, we think that the pope should try it,” said Clohessy. “Radical reforms are needed if this centuries-old practice of endangering children and concealing crimes is to change.”

SNAP’s ICC complaint is part of a larger effort by abuse victims to prod secular authorities to step in and investigate and prosecute those in the church who commit and conceal child sex crimes. Two weeks ago, SNAP filed a 30 page report with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that is highly critical of the Vatican’s past and current handling of clergy sex crimes. With this filing, SNAP is hoping the UN will investigate and initiate reforms in how the church deals with sex abuse claims. --- CCR/ SNAP shadow report on the Vatican's report to the Committee on the rights of the child -- CCR's page on the ICC case --- article about when the case was first filed

CONTACT (in Italy) with SNAP: David Clohessy's Italian cell 334 791 2239 or 339 215 7504 ([email protected]) or at the Hotel Cambridge, Via Palestro 87, Rome 00185 (011 39 06 49384917) Room 122 (until Wednesday, 3/20)

CONTACT (in US) with SNAP: Barbara 314 503 0003, [email protected] or Zach 312 455 1499, [email protected] or Peter 414 429 7259, [email protected] (all on central time)

CONTACT (in US) with CCR: Communications director Jen Nessel (212 614 6480, [email protected], [email protected]), Attorneys Pam Spees and Katherine Gallagher (212 614 6480, [email protected], [email protected])

Showing 6 comments

  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-03-21 00:18:47 -0500
    March 20, 2013

    Dear Mr. Clohessy,

    I’m thinking that if a link could be made between Adam Lanza having been raped by a Catholic priest when he was 6 years old, and the so-called mental illness that he suffered; that it might in fact be cause to have the Catholic church face our calls for justice and transparency, now, rather than later.

    I’m wondering if a posthumous autopsy were performed on Adam Lanza’s exhumed body, if it could be proven that he had suffered rape. I’m wondering if a forensic autopsy might prove that he had been sodomized at a very young age? I think that if this could be shown, and the link to the parish priest in the church his family attended when he was six, was in fact the priest named Fr. John J. Castaldo, perhaps the State’s Attorney General, could convene a grand jury and make a case against both that priest, Fr. John J. Castaldo and the Catholic Church hierarchy who aided and abetted him.

    I do believe that when some of the child victims are as traumatized as has occurred, it does seem that if no relief were offered nor any understanding, assistance and solace ever given, that their resulting physical and psychological condition could be mistaken for autism, and without said aforementioned understanding and solace ever being provided, it’s possible that a psychotic break could in fact occur. Additionally, I believe that if it can be proven that such a person was a victim of a pedophile Catholic priest, that the offending priest could also be held responsible for the ensuing murders during such a psychotic break.

    With the tragedy of Sandy Hook still so fresh in our collective memories, I do think that this possible theory for Adam Lanza’s mental “illness”, and or existing condition at the time of the shootings, and suggested motive for his killing so many six year olds, bears looking into in a serious manner at this time when there is already momentum building towards holding pedophile priests accountable for their heinous crimes against children and thus all of humanity.

    If you can agree with this as being a possible realistic scenario, I think that it should be brought to the attention of the proper authorities in CT, by you and/or the other leaders of SNAP.

    Lani Halter
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-03-20 15:34:04 -0500
    Good morning, from California. Wednesday, March 20, 2013

    Dear Mr. Clohessy,

    Although I know that you are traveling today, I want to write and ask if you were present at the Pope’s inauguration, and if so, was it possible to hear a translation into English of his homily as he spoke? I was not able to view the inauguration live and only saw snippets of it on TV news broadcast later in the day.

    This morning, I read online in USA Today, the written translation of the Homily provided by the Vatican, from yesterday. (The report did not give the sources of both the Scripture Gospel readings, so I had to do some research to find the source of the First Reading in order to be better able to understand P. Francis’ reference to David, in his homily.) And, not being a “cradle catholic” myself, only a “Catholic light” as my friends told me they used to refer to former Lutherans, I do not know if the readings of this Inaugural Mass were selected specifically by the incoming Pope, or if those were just the Church “pre-selected” readings for that given day of the year in that given year, or not.

    I found the new Pope’s references (or lack thereof) to the readings, interesting in light of the horrible conditions obviously still present, the heinous crimes of Catholic Church prelates and clergy who are pedophiles still, currently preying on innocent children daily, around the earth, that he did not specifically state that such abuse will be stopped, by him and the Church, if at all humanly possible. I suppose he refers to that tangentially, when he preaches that we must PROTECT the children and protect the “weakest”. Of course I wish he himself had actually had the courage and kindness and gentleness he did encourage in the rest of us, to specifically have said we (meaning he, and all of the church, including the Curia, as well as civil authorities) to have said at his inauguration, we must protect the children from pedophile predators found in the church as well as the world; but firstly, those predators found in the Catholic Church, today.

    I think and believe that he needs to say that. I pray that Pope Francis be brave enough and Godly enough himself and I pray that he will speak of this openly and publicly to the masses, soon. Silence and evil hidden in the dark recesses of the Church, must be broken publicly.

    David, I have to wonder if someone at the Vatican was watching and reading all of the posts on the SNAP website in these days leading up to the new Pope’s election and inauguration. And, wonder if perhaps anyone there were relaying anything that they deemed important to him (e.g. a copy of your letter to him)? I only wonder about this because I found it interesting that the first reading selected for the papal inauguration had “David” referenced. I know that he did not use the analogy of David and Goliath, but rather that of Nathan in the Second Book of Samuel, telling us that Nathan tells David that God builds his church and that God wants him to be faithful to God’s word and God’s plan, as sealed by the Holy Spirit. Hmmmmm? I don’t know if the new Pope believes that YOU, David Clohessy and your efforts on behalf of all those victims of pedophiles in the Catholic Church, could be part of God’s plan, but, I sure do!

    However, that would be the positive spin on a somewhat cloaked and veiled message to you and the whole group of those abused. Sadly, it could also be a somewhat “subliminal” negative message to you and the survivors to again, “bide your time”, and telling you he’s not ready “now” to make these crimes and criminals public.

    In any case, if we (those of us in SNAP) were not able to make as strong a case as we wanted, I still think that this has been the best combined effort (from all sources, including Mr. Gibny, and other victims) of those fighting this scourge, to date. And I truly believe that with timely continued effort we are on the precipice of the Catholic Church making the necessary changes perhaps because we are all of us, actually inspired by God, and the Trinity at this specific time in the history of the world.

    You know, I’m reminded of a time during WWII I believe it was, when an American mother lost all four sons in one battle of the war, and the U.S. Government and military, decided they would not again allow four brothers to serve in the same unit of any part of the military, in order to prevent something like that ever happening again (at least to try to prevent and insure against the possibility of the death of one person’s entire family of children being slain in one fell swoop), ever again.

    Well, I hope that having been all four brothers, and yourself, been a victim and survivor, (but also having a brother that did not well-survive such heinous acts) continues to inspire you to seize these days and times in the world, to continue with renewed purpose to be the light at the end of the tunnel, and a real victor in the fight bringing the needed actual changes in the Catholic Church at this time. And, I continue to hope that having the same first name of David of the Bible, will be of significance to you in your dealings with the Catholic Church and this new Pope!

    Good Health and Strength to You, David Clohessy!

    Lani Halter
    (now afternoon here, from California. Wednesday, March 20, 2013)
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-03-18 16:09:02 -0500
    CORRECTION TO THE PREVIOUS POST: perpetuating crimes OF pedophile priests…
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-03-18 11:55:17 -0500
    This morning: Monday, March 18, 2013 in California, the reports on the local news are more about the new pope’s comments to those assembled in the square for his address to them yesterday afternoon, were “centered on mercy and forgiveness”. Whereas, to me, his emphasis at this time of the very beginning of his papacy, and repeated extolling of the virtue of being merciful and forgiving without specific mention of exactly what it is he wants all of us to be merciful and forgiving of in the church; is more a matter of the new pope taking a preemptive “strike” at SNAP, and evading from the “get go”, dealing with the pedophilia in the church clergy. I think he does need to be reminded that we (many of the catholic masses) are determined to first put an end to the church institutionally, and endlessly perpetuating crimes on pedophile priests against children. We should remind him that rather than asking and seeking forgiveness for himself and all the clergy at this time, that he would be better known for being a “saving pope” for extolliing Christ’s words and preaching in Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:41 and Luke 17:2. Whereas, Christ himself does not say forgive or have mercy on the one who causes children to sin in his name, rather, Christ says death by drowning would be appropriate. So, the Pope and all the heinous predator pedophile priests and laity, should BE GRATEFUL THAT WE AREN’T ASKING FOR THE DEATH SENTENCE AT THIS TIME!!!

    We are demanding that the enabling, aiding and abetting of pedophile priests and laity, CEASE! That these particular criminals be arrested, prosecuted and if legally found guilty as charged in a secular court of law, they be defrocked by the church, sentenced to prison time and listed on an international registry of sex offenders.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2013-03-18 01:34:12 -0500
    Mr. Clohessy, Thank you very much for going forward tomorrow at the Vatican. Thank you in particular for making the aforementioned suggestions to other survivors and those with knowledge of ongoing abuse by prelates, to contact the SNAP organization and to be brave enough to speak now and be “whistleblowers”. I believe it is absolutely necessary to break “the silence” regarding pedophile Catholic priests and laity everywhere, but especially there in Italy while you are at the Vatican for this historical changing of Popes.

    I also appreciate your giving and making public the information about the ongoing litigation at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. (I have known of the ICC at the Hague, since I was a young girl growing up a “baby boomer”, and I have always respected it and been glad of its existence.) So, I’m also glad to learn that the CCR has helped SNAP in its efforts to that end. And, it also good to learn of your work with the UN on this matter.

    Quite honestly, Mr. Clohessy, the thought of asking the new Pope to create a “whistleblower’s fund” within the church, goes beyond what I could have possibly imagined to suggest. I actually had believed that if he as leader of the church had acknowledged that such crimes have happened in large number and the he, as leader of the church will institute and adopt all of the changes SNAP as an organization has put forth; and to pronounce directly from the papacy that zero tolerance will be the new standard of the church on earth, and completely everwhere, globally on earth. I think, that the Pope just actually being willing to say to all the world, all of that and to encourage all members of the church to report suspicion and/or proof of such crimes immediately to BOTH the church hierarchy AND, more importantly, the public, secular legal systems, would actually be effective in stopping priests and laity from being pedophile predators.

    And, prior to joining SNAP to be any ally of your cause, I really thought that the denial of the existence of this specific problem was so entrenched and the school of cardinals so intractable that the only thing that might actually “shake them up enough” would be the actual, literal, verbal and public rebuke and threat of excommunication if such heinous criminal actions were not ceased immediately, and guaranteed prosecution in public courts of law, all stated to them by the sitting Pope might be exactly what it would take to stop the “infestation” of the church. But, maybe you are right to request more victims come forward and maybe it is good to suggest that such a fund be set up. As I said, the thought would never occur to me to request that of the Pope, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

    Because I truly do think that this is a pivitol time in the world’s and the the Catholic Church’s history, and because I believe the time has actually arrived to be able to put an end to this horrible blight on the victims. I believe the church has no excuse to continue denial and no excuse to continue abetting such heinous crimes.

    Again, thank you Mr. Clohessy and Ms. Dorris and all the other members of SNAP for all of your concerted efforts and hard work to end this malady and travesty in the Catholic Church. Thank you. I say that in all seriousness and sincerity, and with prayers and high hopes for your now timely, success.

    Lani Halter
  • Michael Ference
    commented 2013-03-17 20:01:02 -0500

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