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Since the Catholic Church is unable or unwilling to do the right thing when it comes to the victims of sexual crimes perpetrated by pedophile priests, it is obvious that we need someone looking out for us. What we need is a patron saint who is suited to intercede against the powers the inhabit the residences of bishops and archbishops around the world who are too obsessed with maintaining their power base and safeguarding their treasure from being used for good works.

Saint Rita

Saint Rita

This person would need to be strong, impervious to the earthly power from the Vatican (and other church leaders) and willing to suffer endlessly in hopes that something good will come of the current Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal. We need a true victim’s advocate interceding with God in order to allow grace to pass to those who are in positions to expose  predators and allow truth to prevail.

The choice is obvious. I nominate Saint Rita. Appropriately, she is currently the patroness of impossible cases. With her intercession, the bishops who continue to protect pedophiles will return to a life of obedience and charity. With any luck she will be able to silence the noise from lawyers, accountants, lobbyists and politicians to allow bishops to hear the voice of God. Perhaps then they will realize that what is needed is action and compassion rather than adherence to policies that continue to damage those who have already suffered enough.

Saint Rita, pray for us! (Her Feast Day is celebrated on May 22nd.)

I am approaching my 50th post in the blogging experiment I began back in October, 2008. My focus has been on the continuing rape/sexual molestation/sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Over the last 6 months I have linked to several blogs and websites that support victims to my blog.

Let me be clear at the onset of this post that the problem has not gone away. The flood waters have not receded, the crisis has not passed. Don’t believe what the Catholic Press is saying for one moment. Don’t think that the token masses for victims are the bandage that will heal the wound. One only has to look at Abuse Tracker by Kathy Shaw everyday to see that there is fresh information daily on the abuse of children, both male and female, and vulnerable adults. I secretly wish some day to go to Kathy’s site and see a week or so of posts that simply read, “Nothing significant to report”. Perhaps this is the only thing I may have in common with the people who run the Catholic Church in the United States and at the Vatican. Alas, everyday, I take a look at Kathy’s blog and there are reports from across the country and the world of the latest vile acts committed against victims by predator priests, clergy from other religions and employees or volunteers for religious organizations. You also get the rundown on the apologists and protectors of these monsters, their lobbyists, lawyers, public relations people who claim that all is well and that the church cannot be held responsible for the actions of a few. You see the tactics used against victims and survivors to shut them down and prevent the truth from coming to light. It should be don’t miss reading for anyone following this pedophile epedimic.

I am not the only survivor blogging. There are other voices. Please take a minute to check out some of the links I have to other blogs and websites. Many of us unofficially subscribe to a “do no harm” philosophy that tries to balance information, opinion and the sharing of resources that can aid others who have been the victims of crime and abuse, their families and their friends. I do not use the names of victims or family members that contact me without their permission. I will edit out full names of people that comment on my blog to protect their privacy. Some comments never make it to the web because they are deeply personal and not meant for general consumption. I also reserve the right to delete posts that are malicious. Hey, it is my blog, deal with it. I do not feel the need to “fair and balanced”. If that is what you want, check out Fox News.

Those of us in the “blogosphere” are seeking the truth from the people that have it and are either reluctant or unwilling to share it. Unfortunately, those people tend to wear Roman Collars or work directly for someone who does. We seek the support of public safety officials who are wary of investigating religious organizations for religious, political or cultural reasons. We implore prosecutors at the municipal, county, state and federal levels to actively investigate and prosecute not only the crimes of the individuals committing these acts but the organizations that protect them. For the life of me, I cannot understand why police or district attorneys would allow religious organizations to investigate and regulate themselves.

We would like to see more legislatures take a proactive stand and pass window legislation that will accomplish 2 specific goals. First, extend the statute of limitations on reports of rape, sodomy, sexual molestation, sexual abuse or other inappropriate acts committed against minors. Second, open a window for victims to bring cases against offenders and those individuals and organizations that gave them protection, aid and comfort. States like California and Delaware have passed laws to allow victims to seek justice and redress for wrongs committed against them. New York is currently considering such measures. Other state legislatures have buried similar bills in committee because key chairman have not allowed the bills to go for a vote. I am sure that the Catholic Church and their paid lobbyists are working hard to deny justice in state capitals across the country.

I know it is difficult to come up with new posts that do not loop over material already presented. There are times I feel like I am beating my head against a wall. I see the numbers of visitors to my site. Some days I am amazed that I am reaching so many, other days I wonder if anyone is listening at all. I have also noticed that some of the blogs I read when I first began to search for my perp priest have gone silent on the net. Voice from the Desert comes to mind. I find it exhausting at times to deal with all this. I imagine that some of the blogs that are no longer active had writers that felt the same way and chose to just go silent for a while.  I hope some of them will come back up and let us know that they are well and update us on their own situations.

I have recommended to SNAP that a session during the annual conference this summer be dedicated to bloggers. I think that there is merit in linking our blogs together and linking the organizations that are operating around the country together on the world wide web. If there is to be an effective grass roots effort to seek justice for victims of predator priests and the dioceses that protect them, we have to be focused and united. If not the Catholic Church will win and dioceses around the country will remain safe havens for pedophiles.

If you write a blog on this topic or know someone who does send me the link to your blog. If you are a member of an organization that is actively seeking justice for victims, send me your organization information and web address. I will be happy to put the link on my blog. Recently I came across a new blog by called Anti-Catholic League by David Fortwengler that is worth the read. (don’t be put off by the title).

For SNAP, let me and the rest of the attendees know what you are planning to do for bloggers during the conference in August. If you decide to pass on this as a breakout session, I will meet with anyone who wants to talk about this as a sidebar.

If you are a victim, seek help! If you don’t know where to go, email me at mbbaumannblog@gmail.com. There are resources out there that can help. If you have been frustrated by the church stonewalling you, speak out. You will find, as I did, that you are not alone and your experience, while unique, is not an isolated occurrence.

In a column called “On Faith” on the Washington Post website, a writer by the name of Susan Jacoby took on the subject of evasive apologies from Pope Benedict XVI for a number of issues.

Obviously, near and dear to my heart is the subject of the Catholic Church accepting responsibility and taking meaningful corrective action against not only the pedophile priests but against the people that have protected and enabled them.

The article rings true on lower levels with Bishops who offer similarly evasive and empty apologies and claim that they are doing all that they can. The fact is that they are not doing anything.

I recommend you read the article. I also recommend that you ignore a large number of the comments that accompany that article as they really have nothing to do with the content of the article.

Thanks to Becky Ianni for making me aware of this article.

“On Faith” Column by Susan Jacoby from the Washington Times website

The Zalkin Law Firm in New York has come up with a very interesting analysis of 8 top storylines promoted by the Leadership of the Catholic Church in their lobby efforts to defeat the Child Victim’s Act of New York.

They have debunked the key arguments set forward by Catholic Leaders across the country as they try to shirk their responsibilities to protect children and expose predator priests.

The following are the 8 storylines.  Click on the link and you will be taken to the part of the Zalkin site that shows the illegitimacy of each respective storyline.

Storyline #1: “We did not know then what we know today”
Storyline #2: “It is not fair to hold Bishops of today accountable for the behavior of others.”
Storyline #3: “We are going to go bankrupt!”
Storyline #4: “We will no longer be able to carry on charitable works.”
Storyline #5: “We will have to close schools and sell churches.”
Storyline #6: “These revival statutes are targeted to the Catholic Church: it is unfair not to include the
public schools that are or were just as bad.”

Storyline #7: “This is all about greedy trial lawyers who have made millions”
Storyline #8: “We have addressed the problem.”

This is very interesting reading with detailed, cited evidence to support why the Catholic Hierarchy is full of it.

The 2008 Annual Report of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection was release in February, 2009. The document is the sixth Annual Report compiled by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The report is meant to assess diocesan /eparchial/religious institution compliance with The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The period of report is from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. The methodology for collecting the data for this report was to have an on site audit of one-third of the dioceses and eparchies while the remaining two-thirds would participate through data collection. The result would be that each diocese, eparchy, and Catholic sponsored religious institution would participate in a full on-site audit every three years. It is interesting to note that 7 dioceses oreparchies refused to be audited (So much for full disclosure!) It is also interesting to note that the data received from the diocese was not independently verified for each submitting diocese.  The Bishop of each respective diocese provided the information he wanted to provide with no outside auditing to determine the validity of the data.

While the data below is alarming, you must remember it has been filtered through each submitting diocese.  As we all know the church has seemed to be either reluctant or resistant to release information and much of that information has proved to be either false or incomplete in terms of the truth.

I found this report interesting for a number of reasons. First, the report shows the number of claims of sexual abuse and the number of priests that have been identified as alleged abusers. Second, it gives specific demographic data on the victims/survivors of abuse. Third, it is crucial to understand the amount to money that the church is laying out as a result of the Pedophilia Scandal in the ranks of the Church’s priests/deacons. While the church will find a way to spin this report to say it is moving forward. I think it shows that they have not seen the end of credible reports of abuse, the problem still persists and that the focus of the church is and remains to take care of their own. Bottom line, there are way too many victims and there are still many more who have not come forward. During the period of this report, 971 victims reported sexual abuse of varying types: 940 adults reported past abuse and 31 minors reported recent abuse. Identified as the abuser were 702 priests and 16 deacons.

Table 1.  Accusations reported in 2008

Total number of accused priests 702
Total number of accused deacons 16
Number of diocesan priests 516
Number of diocesan deacons 110
Number of extern priests 22
Number of unknown clerics 60
Number of deceased clerics 293
Number of laicized Clerics 64
Number of clerics removed or placed on restricted ministry 246
Number of clerics with prior allegations 339
Number of allegations that were unfounded and/or unable to be proven 79

The statistics show that the number of reports continues to increase and that new priests are being identified as predators. New perpetrator priests are coming to light who have been under the radar.

Of the reports of abuse, 51% came from the victims, 30% came from attorneys, 8% came from family members of victims, 4% came from a Bishop in another diocese, and 1% each from law enforcement or a friend of the victim. The remaining 5% include reports from medical professionals, social service personnel, diocesan victims’ assistance coordinators, and other priests. The code of silence among priests seems to be alive and well.   Sex abuse victims were 84% male, 16% female. 75% of the victims were age 14 or younger, 20% were age 15-17. The age of the remaining 5% could not be discerned from the report.  The graphic below displays allegations made during the period of the study by year when the sexual abuse occurred or began.  This shows that people like me are stilling coming forward after decades of silence.

Graph 1. Breakdown of reports made in 2008 indicating the year the abuse occurred or began

year-slide-3

Table 2. Breakdown of credible allegations reported

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Victims 1083 777 710 689 796
Allegations 1092 783 714 691 803
Offenders 756 532 448 491 518

In the report, the dioceses reported the following outlay of Diocesan treasure as a direct cost of the allegations. Please note that the Dioceses decided what they would submit in regard to the survey and that, for the most part, there is no independent validation that these numbers are correct.

Table 3.  Costs related to allegations

costs1

The Church has paid out over $2 BILLION in costs directly resulting from the sex abuse scandal since 2004. Insurance paid out 38% of the costs associated dioceses and eparchies allegations and 19% of the religious institution allegations. The rest was borne by parishioners across the United States I wonder how much of the “Other Costs” paid out over the last 5 years went to public relations firms to try create sympathy and support for the Catholic Church (at the expense of victims) and to block legislation that would enable victims to seek some remedy for wrongs committed by predatory priests and the bishops that shielded them. To be honest I don’t think those costs have been captured in this study.

It is amazing that some $77 million was spent to care for the perpetrators while only $42 million was spent on therapy for victims. Does this seem a little lopsided to anyone else?

Seeing as these numbers were provided by the Catholic Church and not by an independent research firm with the ability to review all the transactions that bear on the church’s sex scandal, I believe the costs here, while astronomical, are not an accurate accounting. I would love to see what some good forensic accountants could do to this study. It is time to force all the dioceses, eparchies and religious institutions to open their books and clearly show all transactions related to allegations of sexual molestation, abuse, and  assault. If they do not comply, I support stripping the Catholic Dioceses of the United States of their tax free status as the appropriate sanction for non-compliance.

I am sure that the USCCB would have considered asking President Obama for a bailout if they could do so without opening up their files and subjecting themselves to the ugly light of public scrutiny. Maybe the could call it the Bishops’ Asset Recover Fund (BARF). On second thought they could call it the Diocese Estimated Value Investment Asset National Trust (DEVIANT).  I think you get my drift.

Michael at 13

Michael at 13

I realize that people are becoming desensitized to the Catholic Church’s Sex Scandal.  The media coverage over the past 10 years has been overwhelming at times.  Some people would like to see this story die and go away.  I know that the Catholic Church would like to see people like me go away and remain quiet.  They long for the good old days when fear and shame kept most victims of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy quiet and isolated.  The Church is spending huge amounts of money to try to garner sympathy for their cause and to pay lobbyists to prevent state legislatures from enacting legislation that will enable victims to find justice.  The Catholic Church, the bishops and the people that have provided aid and comfort to pedophiles while sacrificing the safety and welfare of children, need to be forced to tell the truth and make right what has been so horribly wrong.

Many of the reports that have surfaced over the last few years have been made by people, like me, who were raped/molested/sexually abused by priests and other members of religious communities who were trusted by our families.  They used that trust as a weapon against us.  I was 46 when I reported the crimes that were committed against me at age 13 by Father Robert Gibson.  In 1974  he was pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania and a religion teacher at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in 1974.  I was 13!

I have been told, by some supporters of the church, that I was partially to blame for what happened.  After all these years of believing just that, I am finally rejecting that notion and anyone who may still subscribe to the idea that children consented to the abuse of men who should have been protecting them.  What happened to me as a child was a crime, a crime that was repeated until I found a way to keep Father Gibson away from me.

Look at the face in the photo and tell me that I was responsible for the actions of a pedophile.  If you truly believe that, you have drank more than your share of the Kool-Aid prepared by the Catholic Hierarchy.  Sit down and engage your brain, maybe you will find a moment of clarity.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is trying to remind people that SNAP is working to protect kids and help victims get their lives in order.  They are collecting photos of the children and adults that have been the victims of priests who saw vulnerability and turned it for their own perverse pleasure.  They are trying to put a human face on a very inhuman scandal.

I have submitted the photograph of myself at age 13 to SNAP in hopes that it can be added to a collection of images of far too many children and adults who continue to search for answers and justice.  We have been denied just those things by the Catholic Church and their lobbyists.

Father Robert J. Gibson

Father Robert Gibson

Do you have a picture of a predator? When doing media events SNAP is often asked for a photo. Not only does this help the media it often helps people remember events and facts about the predator. It may also help other victims abused by your perpetrator. Frequently survivors find these photos in their family albums with graduation, First Communion, Confirmation and wedding photos.

If you have such a photo, mail a copy to SNAP, 700 North Green Street, #504, Chicago, IL 60642 or scan and send electronically to SNAPadmin1@gmail.com.

Copyright

This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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