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ITALY- Victims seek meeting with new pope
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is writing Pope Francis seeking a meeting to discuss how to stop and prevent current and future child sex crimes and cover ups. (Copy of letter is below.)
Over the past decade, leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, have rarely tried to meet with Catholic officials, saying such efforts over the group’s first 15 years were largely “frustrating and fruitless.” Instead, the group has focused its advocacy work largely on secular officials to reform laws and prosecute those who have committed or covered child sex crimes.
But SNAP has expanded into more nations over the past few years, and “we now better understand just how helpless and fearful so many survivors across the world feel, especially in developing countries and countries where this crisis remains largely unspoken,” said SNAP Midwest Director Peter Isely of Milwaukee. “So despite years of unproductive talks with the church hierarchy, we feel driven, for the safety of at risk children, to try again with this new pontiff.”
“Your predecessor met a few times with a few carefully chosen victims in tightly choreographed settings, as he visited nations where this crisis had reached a fever pitch,” Said SNAP’s letter. “We seek a different kind of meeting – one in which our respective organizations – yours, huge and struggling, and ours, small and struggling – can perhaps begin to work together to safeguard children.”
“Struggling adults who were molested as kids can heal themselves, with or without the help of church officials, through therapy, support groups, and loved ones,” SNAP’s letter said. “But vulnerable kids cannot protect themselves, without the help of church officials. That’s one reason we believe that prevention is where we should all concentrate our energies.”
In his travels, Pope Benedict met with a handful of victims in a few nations including the US and the UK. SNAP was largely unimpressed with those events, arguing that they were largely symbolic with little practical effect on the crisis.
SNAP routinely urges those with knowledge or suspicions of child sex crimes to contact secular authorities, not church figures.
“We stand by that advice,” said SNAP director David Clohessy of St. Louis, who is in Rome. “That’s almost always the safest and quickest way to get a dangerous priest away from kids.”
Still, Clohessy said, SNAP cannot overlook the “immense power” of the pope to make “sweeping changes” in what the group describes as “a long-standing, deeply-rooted and still devastating crisis in the church.”
Twice in the last week, including yesterday, papal spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi mentioned SNAP by name, though not in flattering terms. But SNAP leaders say they are not deterred by such hostility.
“However slim the chances of such a meeting may be, or the chances it will lead to real reform, we simply have to try,” he said. “Some Catholic officials admit that our work is indeed helping to make the church a safer place for everyone. Someday, more will understand that.”
At a news conference in Rome last week, SNAP outlined 20 steps towards resolving the crisis that it hopes the new pope will take during his first 100 days on the job:
SNAP, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of clergy sexual abuse with support groups in over 60 cities US cities and chapters in eight nations.
SNAP’s letter, being sent today by email and fax (if possible) and via overnight express, is below.
Dear Pope Francis,
We are survivors of childhood rape and sexual assault by catholic clergy around the world.
You have chosen as your namesake a man who was one of the greatest reformers in church history, a figure whose memory is universally beloved because he stood for justice. Across the globe, as you know, tens of thousands of childhood survivors of sexual abuse by clergy – priests, nuns, bishops, seminarians and others – are coming forward and demanding justice, accountability, prevention and transparency. We believe they are, by their courageous example, the “St. Francis” of the modern church.
Your predecessor met only a few times with a few carefully chosen victims in tightly choreographed settings, as he visited nations where this crisis had reached a fever pitch. We write today seeking a different kind of meeting – one in which our respective organizations – yours, huge and struggling, and ours, small and struggling – can begin to work together to safeguard children across the globe (not merely make gestures when forced to do so by external pressures).
Despite the differences we may have, we desperately hope we might be able – and you might be willing – to calmly talk with us about ways to better protect children from the devastating, lifelong effects of horrific childhood sexual trauma.
One of the famous sayings of St. Francis is: “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” We believe that as daunting as it seems to rid the church of child sex offenders and corrupt church officials, doing so is necessary, for the sake of justice, healing and prevention. Surely a meeting between us – survivors who have labored in this vineyard for 25 years – and you, the new pontiff of the global church, could be a helpful way to perhaps begin this crucial work in a more positive way.
St. Francis once said “The deeds you do may be the only sermon persons will hear.” The deeds you do or omit to do – during your first days as Pope about the greatest moral challenge to the modern church—the abuse of children and the cover up of that abuse—will indeed be the only sermon that many in the world today are going to hear from you. We hope those deeds will be practical, proven and effective steps to stop child molesting clerics and deter complicit church supervisors from concealing their crimes.
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Yes. I take all of this, very seriously. No. I am not a cynic.
And, on this subject I personally do not tolerate any attempt at making the subject “humourous”.
PEDOPHILE PREDATOR PRIESTS AND LAITY COMMIT HEINOUS CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY,
LITERALLY, HEINOUS CRIMES AGAINST THE MOST VULNERABLE AND LEAST OF US.NOTHING ABOUT TRYING TO BRING AN END TO SUCH HORRIFIC CRIMES, THEPERPETRATORS OF WHICH ARE CURRENTLY BEING ENABLED AND HIDDEN BY THECATHOLIC CHURCH, IS FUNNY. THESE PEDOPHILES WHO HAVE BEEN HARBORED BY THECHURCH, MUST BE STOPPED. FULL STOP.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Hoist up the flag and see who salutes.
Lani Halter commented 1 day ago · Flag
Dear Mr. Clohessy,
Thank you, David Clohessy, for writing the new Pope. Thank you for having the courage to request in writing, a meeting with Archbishop Bergoglio, now, new Pope Francis in these next few days.
And, thank you for posting the contents of your letter here on this site.
I actually hope that you will post your letter in as many places as possible in this modern era of global communications! In my opinion, there should be nothing private or privileged about requesting a meeting with the Pope regarding the requests of the people to change the church’s past action(s) or perhaps to be more articulate, past inactions and evasion of the reality of pedophilia in the ranks of the clergy and laity, for hundreds if not, thousands of years!
Yes, I am glad that he has chosen “Francis” for his new name, and I do hope that he chose it because he wants to be similar to St. Francis of Assisi. However, we do not know, yet. (As has been mentioned, he may have chosen St. Francis’ name, simply to pay homage and show respect to the Catholics of Italy, whose Patron Saint, I have now learned, is St. Francis of Assisi.)
So, it is difficult for me, to yet ascribe as much significance to Father Bergoglio’s choice of his new name. Difficult for me, to believe in such “proof” of “greatness”, as other people have already ascribed to him in their haste to be happy and in their rush to “glorify” and exalt the voting Cardinal’s selection, of this particular Priest to be the next Pope.
Thank you, Mr. Clohessy, for your calmness and clarity of purpose at this time in particular.
Personally, I do believe, whether or not this Pope is actually ready at this time in his life, to attempt the reform that once accomplished, will most certainly be gargantuan; and will be, in effect the most monumental reform in the Catholic Church on Earth, since its inception.
I truly believe that.
Personally, I, as a currently “wavering” Catholic, who am a mother and grandmother of Catholics, am more proud of your courageous actions and persistent haste and timeliness to pursue such needed change in the Catholic Church.
I am quite honestly, relieved to know that you and your associates and friends and co-sufferers, as the founding members and leaders of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), are requesting to meet with the new Pope, at this time.
And, I pray that God and the Trinity, give you strength of your knowledge and of your convictions, to continue to believe in the real possibility that this Pope might actually be the person on earth, who will “reclaim” the children, all Jesus’ children of the earth and save them from the heinous crimes of child predators who have until very recent times, well “hidden” themselves, deep inside the Catholic Church.
May God truly BLESS YOU IN YOUR CONTINUED EFFORTS. MAY HE BRING REAL RESULTSFROM YOUR LOVING PERSISTENCE! MAY GOD GRANT YOU RELIEF FROM ALL YOURSUFFERING IN THIS EFFORT! Please BELIEVE IN YOUR OWN WORK AND CONTINUE YOURHONEST AND GREAT EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF US ALL.
And please report to us all from your meeting with Pope Francis. I think that I do believe, and know, that I most certainly hope and pray that he will respond to your request! Please remember my earlier comparison of this battle and your participation in it as being similar to (perhaps, your namesake) David, and Goliath. Please believe and REMEMBER that this is the time and that you can and will be successful. I think and believe that those optimists among us are all praying for your success, David!
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Well worth attempting and I support you in doing so, but I am sure this guy Bergoglio was elected to keep it business as usual as far as clergy abuse of children goes.