October 5, 2015


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by Betty Clermont

The last time anyone counted, “about one-in-five religious advocacy organizations in Washington D.C. have a Roman Catholic perspective,” the biggest spender being the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at $26.67 million. Unfortunately, the report didn’t list the organizations it considered to have a “Roman Catholic perspective.” Because they’re not based in Washington D.C., the 195 dioceses, Catholic Foundations and the state level Catholic Conferences who lobby on behalf of the local bishops, and the approximately 40,000 other organizations controlled by the bishops throughout the U.S., were not included. Unlike Evangelicals, all the above speak with a unified voice on anti-equality for women and gays. Additionally, no other religion has a global financial network capable of accepting and moving “dark money” thanks to exemptions in requirements to file financial statements and to pay taxes.

Based in Connecticut and not Washington D.C., the Knights of Columbus “have invested millions” in anti-womenand anti-gay causes.

The Knights have contributed so much to the bishops’ political agenda that “nearly 90 archbishops and bishops – including 11 cardinals” showed up at their last annual meeting, including the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson has had three private meetings with Pope Francis and the pontiff metwith the Knights’ board of directors shortly after his election.

There are many organizations, which don’t declare themselves “Catholic” but are allied with the USCCB agenda. They include right-wing think tanks such as the Acton Institute and the Ethics & Public Policy Center (EPPC). The Acton Institute is primarily funded by groups such as ExxonMobil, the Scaife foundations, and the Koch brothers. Its president, Fr. Robert A. Sirico has met with Pope Francis, as has George Weigel, head of the EPPC.

The Becket Fund is “one of the Religious Right legal groups that has pushed to expand the definition of ‘religious liberty’ to allow corporations and individuals as well as religious institutions to opt out of laws they say violate their religious beliefs.” It was founded by Notre Dame graduate, Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson, who was granted honorary doctorates from the bishops’ own Catholic University of America and Domino Pizza magnate Thomas Monaghan’s Ave Maria University. Hasson named his organization for St. Thomas a Becket.

The Thomas More Society was founded by another Notre Dame alumnus, Thomas Brejcha, and also named for a saint. Three of the four board members and the majority of attorneys have Catholic backgrounds. “We’re litigating for pro-lifers and people of faith who face crises of conscience, filing friend-of-the-court briefs in support of other significant court cases, and building a pro-life, pro-family infrastructure by providing organizational and legal support for 31 other non-profits,” according to its website.

Speaking of legal groups, while not “Catholic,” the Federalist Society, which “built the intellectual foundations for an extreme conservative legal movement” boasts Catholic jurists Bork, Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts as members.

Legatus is “an organization of ‘top-tier’ Catholic executives. Launched by Tom Monaghan in 1987, Legatus ‘offers a unique support network of like-minded Catholics who influence the world marketplace.’” At the group’s 2010 summit meeting, Legatus gave George W. Bush a “pro-life” award. Also in attendance were Chicago Cardinal Francis George, Newt and Callista Gingrich, and Thomas Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, Bush returned as speaker. “Legates will also hear from Cardinal Raymond Burke, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League; Dr. Carolyn Woo, the new president of Catholic Relief Services; and J. David Karam, president of Wendy’s International, Inc.” Their January 29-31, 2015, summit featured speeches by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan; Fr. Robert Sirico, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty; Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana; Bret Baier, Chief Political Anchor for Fox News and Peter & Marilyn Coors, Denver Chapter members.

Legatus sponsored a meeting at the Napa Institute. “Other ‘Platinum’ sponsors are the Pontifical North American College, FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), Ignatius Press [proving that “Jesuit” doesn’t necessarily infer progressive or liberal intellectualism], the National Organization for Marriage and the Papal Foundation.”

Membership to the Papal Foundation “starts with the pledge to give $1 million over the course of no more than ten years with a minimum donation of $100,000 per year.” They contribute to building and maintaining the Church’s infrastructure around the world. Leaders met with the pope.

“In partnership with The Catholic University of America’s new School of Business and Economics, [funded by theKoch brothers] the Napa Institute hosted an invitation-only gathering themed ‘Liberty and Solidarity: A Conference on Catholic Social Doctrine and the Economy’ on the university’s campus in Washington.”

“In September 2013, the institute convened a complimentary symposium at the University of Notre Dame, “Religious Freedom Under Obamacare: Can and Should For-Profit Businesses Claim Conscientious Objector Status?” Speakers included Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wis. [who said Paul Ryan’s plan “to care for the poor is probably the finest current example” of Catholic social teaching], and William McGurn, a chief speechwriter for Pres. George W. Bush.”

The Napa Institute has partnered with the right-wing Catholic Eternal Word Television Network, “an international Catholic media force. Its 24/7 programming reaches more than 230 million households in ‘more than 140 countries and territories,’ reports its website. In 2011, EWTN purchased the National Catholic Register newspaper. The month before the Napa assembly, ETWN announced acquisition of both the Catholic News Agency and the Spanish-language news service ACI Prensa, the world’s largest Spanish-language Catholic news organization…. EWTN’s chief executive officer, Michael Warsaw, and Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, Calif., chose the July Napa gathering to jointly announce that EWTN had begun construction of a West Coast facility….” EWTN “‘also operates multiple radio services including a network of hundreds of AM and FM stations, a SiriusXM satellite radio channel, an iHeart radio channel and a global shortwave radio service,’ it states in news releases.”

Catholic theologian and blogger, William Lindsey, did a masterful job of showing how all these groups areinterrelated:

Dylan Scott notes that major players in the movement to push anti-gay “religious liberty” legislation are the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), and Focus on the Family….As the Southern Poverty Law Center has noted, ADF has a strong, consistent record of “sharp anti-gay bigotry” and is increasingly committed, along with other similar groups in the U.S., to exporting the anti-gay animus of religious-right groups in the U.S. to other countries around the globe. Its senior legal counsel…is Piero Tozzi, a former senior fellow of Austin Ruse’s Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute….

Weigel’s EPPC took part in the Senate’s DOMA hearings in 2011 to demand that the Defense of Marriage Act be retained. EPPC has also filed an amicus brief against the contraception provision of the Affordable Care Act as a violation of religious freedom. The brief argues that private corporations should be viewed as persons when they object to the contraception provision on grounds of conscience….

The American Religious Freedom Program is allied with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, one of the legal groups spearheading the attacks on the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration. The Becket Fund is defending many of the Catholic groups that have filed suit against the Obama administration to oppose ACA, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, Ave Maria University, EWTN, and Belmont Abbey College….

From its inception, EPPC has been closely associated with powerful American Catholic neoconservatives including Father Richard John Neuhaus, Mary Ann Glendon [the only American layperson given a permanent position in the Vatican by Pope Francis], and Rick Santorum. Glendon, who was among the group of “Constitutional scholars” who recently pressured Governor Brewer not to veto the Arizona anti-gay bill, is on the advisory board of EPPC’s American Religious Freedom Program, as is the infamously anti-gay archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone….

And what’s the agenda of these thickly connected groups that have such exceptionally strong ties to major players that are a part of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’s “religious liberty” crusade against the Obama administration?….

It’s not in the least accidental that the Arizona Catholic bishops supported the anti-gay legislation passed by the Republican-controlled legislature of their state recently. That legislation has all over it the fingerprints of leading Catholic players in the phony “religious liberty” war against the Obama administration – including the USCCB. In the name of defending religious liberty, the U.S. Catholic bishops and other right-wing Catholics are seeking to extend to private corporations the unprecedented “right” to discriminate against targeted minority groups on grounds of “conscience.” They and their allies have asserted this “right” in amicus briefs to the Supreme Court attacking the Affordable Care Act.

And they are defending and will continue to defend a similar “right” on the part of private employers to discriminate against LGBT citizens, because they have linked opposition to the human rights of those citizens to opposition to contraception and abortion….

Patricia Miller wrote in Salon: “While the Green family who filed the Hobby Lobby suit objecting to the mandate are evangelical Christians, the road to Hobby Lobby wasn’t paved by the Christian Right. It was U.S. Catholic bishops, more specifically the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, that largely engineered Hobby Lobby to block the legitimization of contraception as a standard health insurance benefit.”

To strengthen his connections to U.S. Evangelicals, Pope Francis has met in private with:

Steve Green, billionaire owner of Hobby Lobby, on March 31, 2014, during which they discussed “the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection.” The pope even “asked how the (Hobby Lobby Supreme Court) case was progressing.”

On June 5, 2014, with Doug Coe, head the Family, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and former U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne who served under Bush 43 amid unprecedented scandal. The Family is “the oldest and most politically influential Christian conservative organization in Washington.” Lee is Ted Cruz’s right-hand man.

A delegation of evangelical leaders for almost three hours followed by a private luncheon on June 24, 2014. Attendees included Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance and other WEA officials. The WEA recently terminated the membership of the Oasis Ministry after founder Steve Chaulk’s decision to support gay marriage and faithful same-sex relationships.

Tunnicliffe and a delegation of the WEA met again with Pope Francis on Nov. 6, 2014, “to talk about areas of potential collaboration….[T]he WEA delegation is meeting with other Catholic representatives to discuss topics such as religious liberty, peace building, family, and Islam.” Tunnicliffe said, “[L]et us see this time as a new stage in relations between evangelicals and Roman Catholics.”

Pope Francis called for a conference Nov. 17-19, 2014.

Hate group leader Tony Perkins (of the Family Research Council) would attend. American Religious Right leaders including the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore, pastor Rick Warren, Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput, and Latter-Day Saints official Henry Eyring would join opponents of LGBT equality from around the world at an interfaith conference on the “complementarity of man and woman in marriage” hosted by the Vatican. The conference followed a synod at which Catholic bishops considered, but ultimately rejected, proposals to soften the Church’s stances on homosexuality.

The pope gave the opening address stating that children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.

Afterwards, Warren recorded a video for the Catholic News Service calling for a closer alliance with the Catholic Church. He “has called on non-Catholic Christians to join with Pope Francis and the Catholic Church in pursuit of their common goals.”

Attendee Alan Spears, president of the Alliance Defending Freedom who supported criminalizing homosexuality, said Pope Francis’ planned U.S. visit comes “at a time when the debate on marriage is so fierce [and] could be the opportunity those fighting for traditional marriage have been waiting for.”

Last but not least, Opus Dei’s (a secret society of multinational plutocrats seeking hegemony under cover of the Catholic Church) Prof. Robert George, referred to by the New York Times as the “greatest thinker of the Christian right,” and chairman emeritus of the anti-gay NOM (National Organization for Marriage) board, was also in attendance. (See here for citations on the above)

Pope Francis has made no similar outreach to American mainline Protestant denominations. Other than Pres. Obama, no U.S. Democrat or progressive has been invited to meet the pope in private.

Members of the USCCB elected Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville as their president in November 2014. Kurtz had previously focused on anti-gay education and advocacy. But like the pope, “The ongoing work of the U.S. bishops…will take a slightly different tone in upcoming years, said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. He told the bishops the committee…planned to focus more on teaching and expanding networks with Catholic lay groups and interfaith and ecumenical partners. He said the committee would provide a ‘clearinghouse function’ providing resources as religious liberty issues arise. The archbishop noted that new committee members would include ‘fewer lawyers’ and more experts in the communications field to help get the bishops’ message across…. ‘Stay tuned for details,’ he told the bishops, adding that the campaign also will be linked to works of charity and service to people in need.”

If anyone wants to know what direction the U.S. Catholic bishops are taking, they’ve only to keep an eye on the éminence grise of 21st century American Church, Archbishop Charles Chaput. John and Carol Saeman were Chaput’s largest donors when he headed the Denver Archdiocese and John is the founding president of the DenverLegatus Chapter. The following are quotes from their article in the Washington Post:

Pope Francis’s words [re charity] have also led us to support a group outside the church: the nonprofit community associated with Charles and David Koch, including Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce….The nonprofits associated with the Kochs, which bear the common mission of advancing free enterprise and free societies, reflect our shared conviction that limited government is most conducive to lifting people out of poverty. The two of us, along with hundreds of other philanthropists and businesspeople, support their efforts….

Pope Francis has rightly declared that “where there is no work, there is no dignity.” In light of these words, the U.S. welfare system can actually deny dignity while claiming to grant it. Some government assistance programs can be more lucrative than work. This unfairly – but understandably – incentivizes some to stay out of the job market, abusing the social safety net designed to help those who truly need help. In so doing, it traps people in the poverty they’re trying to escape….

Washington’s centralization of power saps the vitality of the wider economy. Washington’s insatiable growth annually siphons trillions of dollars from the economy – some of which philanthropists like us could give to local charities and businesses could use to create the jobs the poor desperately need.…

This centralization – which misconstrues the principle of solidarity by conflating big government with the common good – also leads to the corrupt capitalism that Pope Francis has condemned. For us, promoting limited government alongside the Kochs is an important part of heeding Pope Francis’s call to love and serve the poor.

So here’s what the next two years, at least through the 2016 elections, are going to sound like for in-the-know leaders of the Catholic right – including the pope on his visit to U.S. – and the leaders of Establishment Republicans: works of charity, concern for the poor, but not by increasing the size of the government.

As Daily Kos journalist, Laura Clawson, wrote: “GOP 2016 hopefuls talk big about poverty and the middle class, but they’re all talk.”

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009). This article previously was published in Daily Kos.


If ‘God Weeps’ About Church Sex Abuse, What Does a Pope Do?

September 29, 2015



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If ‘God Weeps’ About Church Sex Abuse, What Does a Pope Do?

Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the balcony at the US Capitol on September 24, 2015.

By Jason Berry

WASHINGTON—Before Congress on Thursday, Pope Francis praised Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement “for her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed,” likening her faith to “the example of the saints.”

Inspired by Day, Barbara Blaine in the mid 1980s moved into a Catholic Worker House on the South Side of Chicago where women fleeing domestic abuse found safe harbor with their kids. The cavernous floors, long emptied of nuns, housed other young radicals who lived out Day’s witness, working with broken lives, people on the ragged edge, the victims of what Pope Francis calls “the throwaway culture.”

After the man she loved died in an automobile accident, Blaine began dealing with the traumatic aftershocks of being sexually abused at her Toledo high school by Father Chet Warren. Years later she went after him, won a legal settlement and finally got him defrocked.

The road toward those encounters began when Blaine founded Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) while living in the Catholic Worker House in 1988. SNAP has waged a long battle in helping victims seek legal redress against bishops who concealed sexual predators—and pushing for structural changes to remove negligent bishops.

Pope Francis has met with several victims in Rome and established a special Vatican commission, with two abuse survivors on it, to advise him. Commissions move slowly, and what we saw in Philadelphia was the Vatican keeping the pope on message and anonymous victims out of sight.

On midday Sunday, as the pope went about his schedule in Philadelphia, the final day of his American trip, the Vatican issued a statement in carefully-controlled script saying the pope had met with three women and two men who had been sexually abused as children.

As of late Sunday afternoon, Blaine didn’t know who the victims were, nor did anyone in the media. Their names had not surfaced in Monday news reports.

The Vatican’s script was meant to dampen media coverage on the obvious question: what happened to the worst crisis of the modern church? How has this most extraordinary pope confronted such a core issue?

”I’m disappointed that Pope Francis isn’t using this opportunity to advance substantive change,” Blaine said stoically from Chicago. She had been giving interviews since the news broke. “SNAP has people on the ground in New York and Philadelphia today”—trying to get their message out to the media.

As she spoke, the Popemobile paused in Philadelphia en route to Pope Francis’s final Mass in the U.S. The pope has stopped at many of his events to embrace a child brought forth from the crowds.

Brian Williams on MSNBC said jovially that if Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York were not a cardinal, he might be mayor.

However, Dolan as archbishop of Milwaukee secreted $56 million in a cemetery fund in what became the longest bankruptcy battle in church history, pitting 500 abuse victims against Dolan’s previous archdiocese.

The unresolved crisis of predator priests was not a convenient strand for this week’s media narrative. But when Francis fleetingly raised the issue in complimenting bishops in Washington earlier in the week, Blaine winced.

”Calling those bishops ‘courageous’ was like a slap in the face to victims,” said Blaine. “We believe they are the cause of the problem.”

If the American journey of this pope did nothing else, it dramatized the profound sensitivity that Francis has for the people in the barrios and prisons and housing projects. He used powerful words after meeting with the small group of survivors in Philadelphia, telling bishops, seminarians and priests:

”God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. These cannot be maintained in secret, and I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and all responsible will be held accountable. Those who have survived this abuse have become true heralds of mercy – humbly, we owe each of them our gratitude for their great value as they have had to suffer this terrible abuse sexual abuse of minors,” Francis said.

Blaine was not having much of the “heralds of mercy” compliment.

”We want to see what he will do with complicit bishops, how he’s going to change the structure,” she told GroundTruth.

Bishops have historically operated with de facto immunity for transgressions like recycling abusers. The crisis that shook the foundations of Catholicism in Europe, North America and Australia has spread to Latin American countries.

Pathological behavior in a clerical culture does not stop at geographic boundaries.

The Vatican’s stage managing of abuse victims showed another side in televised moment on CNN. As anchor Jake Tapper sat with commentator-priests Edward Becker and James Martin, the camera showed Francis moving down the line of prisoners at the correctional facility in Philadelphia.

Tapper marveled at how the pope who just gone to see abuse victims was now meeting with prisoners. Left unspoken was the struggle of many abuse survivors who feel imprisoned by their past, the inability of the child to protect the adult s/he has become.

Francis had no distinguished record on this wrenching issue as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires. He did not meet with any victims in his time there nor display any leadership on the issue, a point that survivor groups in Argentina keep emphasizing to any reporter in earshot.

But Papa Bergoglio, as some Italians call him, has proven himself to be a pope with a powerful, reform-driven agenda. The story often lost on the American media is his struggle to change the internal dynamics of the Roman Curia.

Acting on the advice of his commission for child protection, Francis authorized a special tribunal within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to try bishops who are accused of complicity or gross negligence in dealing with sex offenders.

This is a new realm of church law. And SNAP has no one in a position to have dialogue or any form of negotiation with the Vatican. Instead the group has relentlessly criticized the pope’s every move on the crisis as inconsequential.

Changing the largest institution in the world, one that is 2,000 years old, requires understanding its inner workings by talking to people on the inside.

Vatican officials and bishops who shrink from the very idea of a conversation with someone from SNAP might do well to look at Cuba’s changing relationship with the US, made possible with help from Pope Francis. The diplomatic breakthrough took decades but it happened between the bitterest of geopolitical enemies with a strong nudge from the Supreme Pontiff, a man from Latin America who saw a growing church in the Marxist country and reasoned that anything he could do to strengthen dialogue and progress was worth doing.

The CDF tribunal could have a powerful impact on the behavior of bishops—and the power of this and future popes to speedily remove them—which would go a long way toward “protecting kids,” a SNAP mantra.

The big test for Francis’s reform agenda on the abuse crisis is whether the tribunal agrees to accept sworn testimony in civil and criminal cases as bona fide evidence in canon law procedures. If that precedent is established, abuse activists in any country who have forensic documents about a given bishop to back up their claims will have a process in play.

This pope is all about process. This week, the drama of his personality vastly overshadowed his approach to the internal changes in the Church of Rome. But the many statements and sermons and symbolic gestures he made across the byways of the three Eastern cities leave a large legacy indeed.

He is even more on record now, saying “God weeps” about predator priests.

What, then, does the pope do?

Jason Berry is a religion correspondent for GroundTruth. His books include Lead Us Not Into Temptation, Vows of Silence, and Render unto Rome.



SNAP president Barbara Blaine blasts pope’s praise of bishops

September 26, 2015


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Barbara Blaine’s statement is on target.

How can this pope, on the one hand, rightly ask humanity to help the poor and save the planet, and, on the other hand, applaud what he said was bishops’ “generous commitment to bring healing to victims.” and praise them for courage in facing “difficult moments in the recent history of the church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice”?

The answer to this question is that the pope is a trying to accomplish an impossible task: balance two incompatible worldviews. On the one hand, he correctly interprets the core gospel message of service to others. On the other hand, as the leader of a wealthy and powerful multinational institution, he has made a deliberate decision, like his predecessors, to protect that institution and its past and present leaders. Expecting anything different from the person in charge of this all-too-human institution is foolhardy.


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  • Victims blast pope’s praise of bishops

    For immediate release: Wednesday, Sept. 23

    Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP president (312-399-4747, bblaine@snapnetwork.org)

    In a speech today to U.S. bishops, according to ABC News, Francis “does not specifically reference the pedophilia that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.”

    He does, however, speak of some alleged “great sacrifice” made by bishops because of the abuse and cover up crisis.

    What sacrifice? What bishops takes fewer vacations, drives a smaller car, does his own laundry or has been passed over for promotion because he’s shielding predators and endangering kids? None.

    Only four US bishops (out of hundreds) have resigned because they hide and enabled horrific crimes, but only after staying in power for years and only after massive public, police, prosecutor and parishioner outrage. (Law, Finn, Piche and Neinstedt)

    Virtually none of the other US clerics, (out of thousands) have ever been punished in the slightest for protecting predators, destroying evidence, stonewalling police, deceiving prosecutors, shunning victims or helping child molesting clerics get new jobs or flee overseas.

    And no one in the entire US Catholic hierarchy, despite 30 years of horrific scandal and at least 100,000 US victims, has been defrocked, demoted, disciplined or even publicly denounced by a church colleague or supervisor, for covering up child sex crimes, no matter how clearly or often or egregiously he did so.

    In carefully-crafted remarks, Francis claims church officials are working “to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated.” He knows, however, this is disingenuous. Such crimes are happening right now, all across the world. He refuses to admit this, however, preferring to conveniently imply that somehow, because of tiny, belated and grudging steps forced on bishops in a few Western nations, no priest, nun, seminarian or bishop anywhere is assaulting children today.

    Finally, Francis says he has “no wish” to tell US bishop “what to do, because we all know what it is that the Lord asks of us.” He’s half right – bishops do indeed know precisely how to protect kids. But they refuse, like Francis himself does, to take the simple, proven steps to do this.

    Still, we’re deeply disappointed that Francis refuses to tell bishops to do a single thing more than they’ve been forced to do by courageous victims, angry Catholics, determined law enforcement, and the church’s own insurers, defense lawyers and public relations experts.

    (Here are just some of the tangible steps Francis could have told US bishops to take to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded, expose the truth and end the cover ups:


    His remarks today confirm what we’ve long said and suspected: this pope, like his predecessors, is doing and will do little if anything to bring real reform to this continuing crisis. Those who care about kids must focus on secular authorities, not church figures (however popular they may be).

    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 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, davidgclohessy@gmail.comSNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org), Barbara Blaine(312-399-4747, bblaine@snapnetwork.org)



Why Pope Francis’s Comments On Clergy Sex Abuse Upset Survivors

September 26, 2015



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Why Pope Francis’s Comments On Clergy Sex Abuse Upset Survivors

They ask why Francis would praise U.S. bishops for a supposed “generous commitment to bring healing to victims.”

Antonia BlumbergAssociate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post


Posted: 09/23/2015 07:02 PM EDT

Pope Francis praised U.S. Catholic bishops for their response to the clergy sex abuse crisis Wednesday during an address in Washington—comments that victims called “insulting” and “hurtful.”

The pope applauded what he said was bishops’ “generous commitment to bring healing to victims.” And he praised them for courage in facing “difficult moments in the recent history of the church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.”

John Salveson, a Philadelphia business owner who was victimized by clergy sex abuse, said he found the pope’s comments “bizarre.”

“First of all, he’s characterizing the bishops’ response as generous,” Salveson told The Huffington Post. “They have treated victims for decades like adversaries. It’s just been horrible. I don’t know how you could ever characterize them as generous.”

Barbara Blaine, of Chicago, president of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, released a statement decrying the years of clergy abuse that the church tolerated. By praising bishops, Blaine said in the statement, Francis revealed his own reluctance to take decisive action.

“His remarks today confirm what we’ve long said and suspected: this pope, like his predecessors, is doing and will do little if anything to bring real reform to this continuing crisis,” Blaine said. “Those who care about kids must focus on secular authorities, not church figures (however popular they may be).”

Dennis Coday, an editor for National Catholic Register, criticized the pontiff for dancing around the issue without offering specifics.

“At the very least he could have used the words ‘clergy sexual abuse of minors,’” Coday wrote in an National Catholic Register opinion piece. “This oblique reference will do nothing to assuage the fears of victims’ advocates who believe Francis is more public relations manager than crisis manager when it comes to sexual abuse.”

Allegations of sex abuse in the church have been pervasive for decades, but few priests have been convicted and sentenced to jail. The abuse crisis erupted in 2002, The Associated Press noted, with a high-profile case of one pedophile priest in the Archdiocese of Boston.


    TOM LANDERS VIA GETTY IMAGESRoman Catholic priest John Geoghan listens to Judge Sandra Hamlin at Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 21 February, 2002. Geoghan was sentenced to 10 years in jail for having sexually abused a 10-year-old boy in 1991.

    The Boston scandal revealed that abuser priests were allowed to remain in ministry positions without parents or police knowing, and persuaded thousands of people across the country to come forward with abuse claims. The allegations prompted grand jury investigations in several states and compelled bishops to survey how American dioceses had dealt with perpetrators and victims going back decades.

    The U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged in 1992 that some bishops had attempted to cover up abuse. Under enormous public pressure, the bishops conference pledged in 2002 to oust any guilty clergy from church work and to enact safeguards for children.

    Pope Francis announced plans in June for a tribunal to hear allegations that bishops failed to properly handle sex abuse cases. But there are no signs the tribunal will begin operating anytime soon. This year, three bishops resigned in crises over their failures to protect children.

    One major impediment to change, said Salveson, is the statute of limitations in criminal laws that allows abusers to escape justice years after their crimes.

    “It usually takes decades for people to come to terms with this, and by that time there’s no legal remedy,” Salveson said.

    The U.S. Catholic church has actively fought against reforming the statute of limitations in several states, which undermines the work survivors and advocates have done to shift the status quo.

    “If [the church] supported those reforms, I predict they would breeze through in every state where they supported it,” Salveson said.

    Salveson, 59, said he was sexually abused for several years starting at age of 13 by his parish priest in Long Island, New York. In 1980, long after the abuse had ended, he wrote a letter to the diocese outlining what had happened to him and suggesting that the presiding bishop remove the priest from the parish. It took nine years for that to happen.

    Salveson said he isn’t optimistic the church will “straighten up and fly right.”

    Despite his frustration, Salveson said he’s heard rumors Pope Francis will meet with survivors during his six-day visit to the U.S. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput hinted at the same during an August conference of religion journalists. He noted that such meetings are never publicized ahead of time.

    If the pope does meet with survivors of clergy abuse, Salveson said he hopes the pope will see the human side of an issue that other church leaders have handled as “risk management.”

    “I would hope that actually spending time with a survivor would open his eyes that this is more than managing risk,” Salveson said. “It’s the church’s moral obligation.”



Benita Kirschbaum, Minnesota SNAP Leader, Dies

September 25, 2015

Email received from Bob Schwiderski.

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575 abuse victims in Cardinal Dolan’s former diocese urge Pope Francis to hold him accountable

September 23, 2015

Received by email from Peter Isely

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  • SNAPnetwork.org

    575 victims in Dolan’s former diocese urging Pope Francis to hold him accountable


    • Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee) – Attending SNAP events in NYC during the papal visit, 414.429.7259 (peterisely@yahoo.com)
    • Megan Peterson, SNAP NYC Director, 218.684.0073 (survivor19@live.com)
    • Letter from Dolan to the Vatican attached—



    9/23/05 Letter to Pope Francis from Milwaukee victims, re: Cardinal Timothy Dolan

    Dear Pope Francis,

    I am one of 575 victims of childhood rape, sexual assault or abuse by clergy who have worked in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who have filed cases seeking restitution from the church in US Federal Bankruptcy Court. I am writing to you on our behalf and on behalf of our families.

    Every rape or sexual assault of a child is a double act of theft:  first it steals the body and then it steals the voice.

    Seeking justice as adults through our courts for the crimes that were committed against us as children is an effort by us to restore both body and voice.  That is why we were cheered when, early in your pontificate, you directly and explicitly affirmed the rightness and importance for victims to seek justice and restitution through the civil justice system.

    We filed our cases for restitution over four and a half years ago in US Bankruptcy Court because the new Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki publically assured us that by doing so he would use the bankruptcy court to bring just “compensation, healing and resolution” to victims.

    The chief architect of the bankruptcy, however, was Listecki’s predecessor, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who repeatedly and directly spoke of his remorse for the crimes committed by Milwaukee clergy against children.

    Imagine our sense of betrayal, then, when we learned that Archbishop Dolan before leaving for his new post as Archbishop of New York had acted directly to contravene the spirit of the very principle of civil justice for victims that your words celebrate and affirm.

    In a letter obtained in federal court (also attached), Dolan wrote to Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of Congregation of the Clergy, for permission to transfer nearly $60 million dollars of assets into a new “Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust.”  The archdiocese, of course, already had money set aside for the care of cemeteries.  Why was Dolan seeking permission to make a new trust?  Because the Wisconsin Supreme Court had just issued a unanimous ruling against the Milwaukee Archdiocese stating that there was sufficient evidence of its fraudulent concealment and transfer of clergy child sex offenders that the archdiocese could be brought to civil court by victims seeking restitution.  Dolan, in the letter, clearly stated his intent in creating a new and unneeded trust.“By transferring these assets to the Trust, they [the monies]will be protected by any legal claim and liability.”

    Additionally, the newly created cemetery trust was intended for only eight cemeteries, most of which also have a mausoleum in or near or near the City of Milwaukee.  All the many remaining Catholic cemeteries in the archdiocese do not benefit from this trust. $60 million dollars is hardly required to serve the needs of only eight cemeteries.

    Dolan’s transfer of tens of millions of dollars to prevent victims from just compensation is an act of civil and, in all likelihood, criminal fraud under US law.

    Court documents also show that Dolan, after public denials to the contrary, devised and executed a secret policy of paying clerics who had abused children (a $20,000 dollar “signing bonus” added to their pension and other benefits) to leave the priesthood without the archdiocese notifying the unsuspecting communities in which they settled.

    The new church you are urging us to build together requires you to hold Cardinal Dolan accountable for the planning, direction and, to a very significant degree, the current outcome of the bankruptcy, which has resulted in:

    • The lowest settlements of any church bankruptcy in the United States by a factor of ten, with individual amounts to victims that do not even begin to address the severe and lasting harm done to them or provide anywhere near the resources required to begin a true recovery, with some clergy rape victims receiving as little as $2,000 dollars.
    • Only 26 percent of the total bankruptcy settlement money will be allocated to help victims.  74 percent of the costs will pay lawyers’ fees, including $19.5 million to church and bankruptcy lawyers, $4 million in legal expenses to defend Dolan’s trust, and $7 million to victim attorneys; in other words, over twice as much money will be pocketed by church and other lawyers then will be given to help survivors.
    • Most alarmingly, direct victim reports filed into court detail that at least 100 newly alleged clergy child sex offendersfrom the archdiocese have not been properly investigated or prosecuted, leaving countless children at risk in our church and community.


    You have said that “the courage” victims show “by speaking up, by telling the truth” has been “in the service of love” to “shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church.”

    The church believes that God so ordered the universe that he placed at the center of creation the human heart and at the center of the human heart, the faculty of free consent.  Love does not exist or enter the embodied soul without free consent.  That is why the sexual violence by a priest against a child is a demonic parody of both creation and love, of the very miracle of creation through love.

    It is an endless mystery that the shame the priest sex offender should logically and naturally feel within his own soul while violating the body of the child is rarely if ever felt by him.  Instead, the shame of this crime, this awful and crushing weight, is poured into the body of the victim – our bodies.  This is why it is we, not the offender, who feels the weight of this criminal shame, and why it is so difficult for most of us to come forward and bring our violation to speech.

    Is it not a miracle that 575 of us in Milwaukee come forward, three generations of survivors, and together as brothers and sisters speak the unspeakable?  Every time a survivor speaks, as you so rightly acknowledged, no matter how difficult to hear or unwanted the effect, it is an act of love for the church.

    Victims in Milwaukee can still receive justice with your intervention and help. The money fraudulently transferred by Dolan which should have been used to compensate victims can still be put to that very purpose.  Your time here in New York City will give you an opportunity to continue your pledge to hold Cardinal Dolan and other bishops accountable for the ongoing crisis of clerical sexual abuse and honor 575 acts of love and truth.


    Peter J. Isely

    SNAP Midwest Director

    Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnewtork.org)

    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 18,000 members worldwide. 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. Visit us at SNAPnetwork.org and SNAPwisconsin.com 


About Confucius

September 23, 2015

Received by email from delanceyplace.com

* * *

  • A portrait of Confucius by the Tang

    dynasty artist Wu Daozi (680-740)


Today’s selection—from Confucius (known in China as Kong Zi or “Master Kong,” the name we use is a transliteration of the name Kong Fuzi, also “Master Kong,” by Jesuit missionaries in the 16th Century) was a teacher, politician and philosopher who lived from 551 to 479 BCE and remains the most influential philosopher in Chinese thought even today:

”Confucius [is] one of the most important men who ever lived. His teachings shape the daily lives of well over 1.6 billion people today, nearly a quarter of the world’s population—in a huge geographic swath stretching from northern Japan down to Java in Indonesia. Only Christianity can claim to hold greater sway over modern global culture. Even as Asia has been bombarded by outside influences … Confucius has endured, too much a part of daily life to be smothered, uprooted, or replaced. Confucius, then, ranks with Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, and Siddhartha Gautama (better known as the Buddha), and Aristotle and Plato, as one of the founders of modern civilization.

“Despite this reality, most westerners hardly know anything about Confucius. … What we in the United States and Europe have to appreciate is that East Asian civilization is constructed on an entirely different philosophical basis than our own—to a great degree, the teachings of Confucius. Scholars and politicians in the West have for centuries studied the Greek philosophers (Aristotle, Plato, Socrates), the Bible and other Judeo-Christian works, and the thinkers who laid the foundation for modern society in the West, such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Adam Smith. Not so in East Asia. Historically, academics, writers, and state officials in that part of the world have read the Confucian classics, which provided the ideological backbone of East Asia’s governing institutions, the curricula of its academies, and the norms of social discourse. In China, knowledge of the Confucian canon, and the many commentaries and essays expounding on it, was traditionally a prerequisite for social and professional advancement, the basic education one had to have in order to be considered truly civilized.

”Chinese civil servants earned their jobs by mastering these classics for 1,900 years. In East Asia, it was Confucius, not Moses, who handed down the standards for human morality. It was Confucius, not Locke or Thomas Jefferson, who forged the relationship between citizen and state and the position of the individual in society. Confucianism has not been the sole influence on East Asian civilization. Buddhism, for instance, has played an important role. So have foreign religions and ideologies that arrived in the region over the past two hundred years, from Christianity to Marxism. And Confucius is far from Asian history’s only philosopher of brilliance. Laozi, the (perhaps mythical) founder of Daoism, is just one of several important thinkers whose influence can still be felt in Asian life. Yet no individual has held more sway over East Asia for such an extended period of time as Confucius. Indeed, the history of East Asian civilization is synonymous with the development of Confucian doctrine. …

”Confucius may be the greatest teacher in human history. Though at one point in his career he was a marginally successful statesman and government official, he spent most of his professional life teaching, and it was as a teacher that he left his indelible mark on Asia. The most famous text associated with him, the Analects, consists, for the most part, of snippets of conversations he had with his students while instructing them on virtue, good government, interpersonal relations, ethics, and history. What Confucius taught was the wisdom of Chinese antiquity, a timeless code of morality and gracious vision of humanity that can stir anyone reading his words today. …

”Confucius’s teachings cannot simply be compared to Judeo-Christian faiths. ‘Most religions have books that tell you that if you follow what is in them, you will be saved. We have books, too, but they don’t tell you that,’ Sungkyunkwan’s Park, a self-proclaimed practicing Confucian, told me outside the university’s Confucian shrine. ‘In other religions, you need a god and ceremonies, but Confucianism is about doing your best in the world we live in. Everything is based on a self-critique of your own behavior. You believe you have to be nice, to be good to other people, to be generous. It is about following Confucius’s teachings.’

”Despite his lofty stature, Confucius has not always been a beloved figure. Perhaps no other founder of a major faith or philosophy has generated as much controversy as he has. Asians and non-Asians alike have lambasted Confucius as the source of all the ills of the civilization he created. Confucius has been blamed for suppressing women, stifling innovation, impoverishing peasants, encouraging despotism, and sparking financial crises. It is because of Confucius, his critics have claimed, that China failed to develop capitalism before the West and fell behind the United States and Europe in technology. Many modern East Asians, imbibing Western ideas on civil liberties and political freedom, have perceived Confucius as an impediment to democracy and human rights in the region. …

“Still, damning Confucius for such prejudicial social practices isn’t completely justified. His teachings have been so twisted and distorted by centuries of self-interested emperors, scholars, and officials that in some cases they have deviated drastically from the sage’s own positions and gotten him attacked for things he never advocated and would never support. Li Dazhao, one of the founders of China’s Communist Party and a stiff twentieth-century critic of the great sage, admitted as much. ‘We are launching an attack not upon Confucius himself but upon the Confucius whom the past successive emperors have molded into a political idol and authority—not upon Confucius himself but upon the Confucius whom the emperors have invested with a tyrannical soul,’ he wrote.”

Confucius: And the World He Created

Author: Michael Schuman

Publisher: Basic Books

Copyright 2015 by Michael Schuman

Pages xi-xiii, xix-xxi, xvii


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