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An article in the Scranton Times-Tribune online follows up on the story of Carlos Urrutigoiry and his elevation to a position of authority over priests accused of misconduct in a Catholic Diocese in Paraguay.

The National Director of SNAP, David Chlohessy, is demanding the Diocese release  the files on the Urrutigoiry and the events that occurred at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, a residential school sponsored by the Society of St. John, a religious order.   Urrutigoiry was credibly accused of sleeping with teenage boys as part of his “ministry”.

It will come as no surprise that the Diocese of Scranton will take no action and that the National Director of SNAP will move on to another press release/photo opportunity.  The dance continues and yet no progress is made.

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The dome of St. Peters strick by lightning on the night of the Papal resignation

The dome of St. Peters struck by lightning on the night of the Papal resignation

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI came as a shock to the Catholic Church and the world.  In the last month pundits have examined and speculated on the reasons for his sudden retirement and the tremor that went through the trouble Catholic Church that resulted from his announcement.

In what is being touted as his farewell speech, the Pontiff sited failing health and energy as the reason for his unconventional departure from the throne of Saint Peter.   Canon Law (Canon 332, No. 2) states “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.” In other words, he can leave and no one has the right to say “No you can’t go!”  It seems that the only restriction is that he can’t take his red shoes with him into retirement.

Catholics have an expectation the their Pope will die in office.  The departure of Benedict, without benefit of death, opens many wounds that should be addressed by the Conclave.  It should be noted that the last Pope to “retire”  St. Celestine V, was imprisoned by his successor and died in a papal prison.   Scholars believe that the line  “who made from cowardice the great refusal” in Dante’s  The Divine Comedy was a reference to Celestine V.

So here we are on the first night of the Conclave.  Ballot 1 resulted in black smoke.  Tomorrow we will see up to four more polls of the assembled Cardinals.  These men are as far removed from the teachings of their Lord as can be.  Take a look at the media coverage during the last month.  Think of the image that is being presented by the princes of the church in their blood-red, silk cassocks and hand tied fine lace.  Each in what seemed to be different patterns of finery.  Is this what the successor of Peter should look like?  Or are we seeing the excesses of royalty in a church wracked with scandal?  These men are addressed by grand titles such as “Your Eminence”.  Have they become the modern-day Pharisees, enamored of their titles?

These men are sweeping away the numerous scandals and crises in the church as they prepare to crown a new monarch.  They talk of looking to the future (why look at the carnage in their wake?).  They ignore the sex abuse crisis that has seen children and vulnerable adults preyed upon by sexual predators.  The church continues to protect these monsters.  As much as Cardinals would like the “scandal” to be over, new stories come forward every day detailing the loss of innocence, faith and trust.

The Vatican Bank has been a scandal for decades.  Can you believe that the bank run by the Vatican is considered to be one of the most corrupt in the world?  It has consistently failed to be in compliance with international standards.  The Pope’s bank has been involved in laundering money for years!  Can someone tell me why the Vatican needs to be running a bank?  Are there no Italian Banks that can serve the needs of the Curia, while adhering to Italian law and international banking practices?

The fact that the Vatican is a sovereign nation unto itself also makes me wonder what these men in red silk are up to.  Although, most of these men are citizens of other countries, they are voting for the head of state of another nation.  Should Cardinal Dolan’s American citizenship be revoked because he is an official of a foreign government?

It seems that the men in red silk are a little taken with themselves.  They parade around in their finery, vote under the watchful eye of Renaissance masters and try to look like humble servants of the church.  I wonder if Jesus was alive today if he would be throwing these pretenders to the throne of Peter out of the temple, exposing them as the frauds that they really are.

Benedict spoke of his concern that the “Lord seemed to sleep”.   I would theorize that it is  Catholics who are sleeping.  They allow crisis after crisis, scandal after to scandal to go unabated.  There are no consequences for the princes of the church. Perhaps the forces at work in the Vatican are not those of light and salvation.

Benedict XVI should be wary in his retirement. He did not have the good sense to die.  Celestine V was imprisoned by his successor,  Pope Boniface VIII. He was seen as a threat that could be used to destabilize the Holy See.  He would die in his prison cell, some scholars think he was murdered by order of Boniface.

In the meantime, the world is glued to their smart phones, computers, iPads, tablets and televisions waiting for white smoke to rise from the makeshift chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.   I guess we will know who will be wearing red shoes soon enough.

The past year has seen some spectacular events that have given some hope to survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands pedophile predators in our society.  Indeed this crisis knows no borders and is not limited to those of a certain faith.  We have seen the conviction of a Catholic Bishop for covering up sexual crimes committed against children, the conviction and imprisonment of Jerry Sandusky for committing those crimes and a monsignor in Philadelphia for carrying out a program of protecting pedophiles at the expense of innocent children and parishioner’s money.   Large institutions still are willing to sacrifice the innocent in order to protect the privilege of the few at the top and to prevent scandal from coming to light.

For me personally, I have had to come to grips with the death of the predator who counted me as one of his many victims.  He was prolific throughout his life in targeting boys in dysfunctional family situations from alcoholism to catastrophic illness.  He hid behind his Roman Collar and he found the protection of a Diocese that was willing to move him around to different parishes and ultimately out of the diocese and the state to keep him safe from prosecution.

With the announcement that the Pope has offered his resignation, something not done in over 600 years, just as the documentary “Mea Maxima Culpa” has aired on HBO (see the promo here), I wonder what the future of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church will be.   I can safely say that the entire College of Cardinals who will be voting in the next few weeks were elevated to helm of their respective curiae by either John Paul II or Benedict XVI.  In a word, they are very conservative in the mold of the men who hoped to shape their church by selecting Cardinals who shared similar conservative outlooks on the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

The one piece of the puzzle that continues to vex me is the Survivor Community.  The community that speaks for the victims.  There isn’t really a strong confederation of groups in the United States that networks survivors and promotes an agenda in the State Capitols.  There is no larger, worldwide organization that stands up for the survivors, that is a solid united front for the people who have been neglected all these years.

At this point I will say, again, that I don’t think SNAP is effective because its national leadership seems disconnected from the rest of us.   The organization is not a network, despite its name.   There is a vocal element out there that feels that the organization is an arm of the Catholic Church because of the way it is formed.  They base this claim on the letter that follows:

snap incorporating paper

Personally, I am not convinced this is a smoking gun.  I think this was more of the birth of an organization that did not know how to chart its own course at its genesis.  But I will let you come to your own conclusions.

During the last week I have been having a heated electronic correspondence with another survivor who has accused me of rolling over on the survivor community and stunting a dialogue between us.   I have been accused of many things in the past few years from all sides of this issue.  But, as much as I hate to admit it, my correspondent has got me thinking.  We talk about a survivor community as if it really exists.   We talk about networks but we are not networked as a community.

I need to know what the expectations of survivors are (I hate the word victim).  I need to hear the thoughts of others with similar experiences on what needs to be done.  I need  to know what expectations are out there.   If we are going to be a community, a network there is needs to be a common philosophical and pragmatic basis to gather the various groups into a confederation, an alliance or a coalition.

There are a lot of egos in this community.  Mine to be counted among them.  There has to be a way to come to some kind of accord in order to optimize the talents, energy and, if need be, the anger that resides within the universe of survivors and their supporters.

If no accord can be reached, is there another way to harness the energy of survivors to achieve tangible goals for our society so that we can remove the veil of protection that pedophiles in large institutions have enjoyed in the name of saving the reputation of those institutions?  I have said it before and I will continue to say that I had to keep my great terrible secret alone for all those years, my perp had help keeping his.

My questions are not rhetorical, I need to know.  I need you to tell me.  I think we all need to have the discussion in a civil manner.  But the discussion needs to be had, by the entire community, if there is really a community out  there.

I am waiting to hear from all of you.

The SNAP Conference is coming up this weekend in Northern Virginia.  Beginning Friday evening at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, just south of Washington, D.C., SNAP members from all over the country and perhaps from around the world will come together to listen to speakers, mix and exchange stories and try to draw some comfort and strength from other victims of sexual crimes committed by clergy.

I attended the conference a few years ago when after I went public with my own story of abuse.  The weekend was eye-opening.  There were people in the room who had made great strides towards recovery while others were still on their personal journeys.

At the conference I sought out some of the leaders of SNAP and talked to them about really networking the membership, setting up a blog roll for the people blogging on the topic of sexual crimes committed by clergy and lay employees of religious organizations and finding a way to use social media to bring this group together.  There was lots of enthusiasm, but no action.

I withdrew my support for SNAP after I started seeing a pattern of odd behavior and  an effort by the National Director to stifle any kind of initiative to do new things or come up with a more coherent strategy to lobby for changes in the laws of states that have not extended statutes of limitation to allow for more time to protect the rights of children or vulnerable adults who have been the victims of crimes committed by clergy.

There are some people who have contended that SNAP is controlled by the church while others say it is an organization that funnels clients to attorneys who make a lot of money suing the church.  I think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.   I also think that the current leadership is rehashing a strategy that is not working.  If you look at the schedule of events for the upcoming conference you do not see any sessions in the main room, or as breakouts, about how to actually network the community through social media or to encourage blogging or other modern methods of harnessing the power of the community.  You don’t see sessions on enabling survivors to work on local and state lawmakers to lobby for changes in existing laws.

You also do not see an open discussion of the organization’s budget, the decision-making process of National Leaders or the selection of board members out of the people who allegedly make up the membership of this organization.

You do see a lot of diverse groups talking about victimization and you will most likely hear a request for donations.  What we have is not activism, it is passive submission to an agenda set by a very few, with those few having a direct financial stake in the agenda.

I would attend a SNAP Conference where the state of the organization to include a detailed discussion of budget and financial issues is encouraged.  I would like to see an organization that would see the election of board members out of the membership in good standing.  I would like to see National Leaders held accountable for their methods, tools and strategies.  If they fail to meet goals agreed to by the membership, it should be the right of the members to demand a change in leadership.

There are many questions that don’t seem to be answered.  There are many who would like to ask questions without fear of retribution from the National Leaders and their more zealous disciples.

I find it ironic that many of the tactics that the Catholic Church has used to control and isolate victims are part of the SNAP leadership strategy to remain firmly in place, collecting a paycheck and controlling a dialogue that is not really theirs to control.

Have a dialogue with all Survivors, encourage a conversation and realize that there is value in differing opinions.  Take time to discuss the business of SNAP and establish procedures that will encourage confidence in those who donate to non-profit organizations that comply with established standards and best practices.  Make this organization a true network and you will see results.

Finally, stop wasting everyone’s time changing the church.  It is never going to happen.  This fight will not be won in the pulpit or the pews, it has to be fought and won in the state legislatures and the courtroom.  I have said it before and will continue to say it.  There will be no profound change in the way the Catholic Church deals with pedophile priests until the church, as an institution,  has to pay a price set by civil society that is so terrible that it has no choice but to change as an institution or perish.  SNAP can be on the leading edge of that change or remain a self licking ice cream cone that does little more than offer a paycheck to a select few who may not really know where to lead the organization.

We will see what happens in northern Virginia over the weekend.  Unfortunately, I do not hold out hope for any new direction!

It has been a while… 

I have been struggling with some major issues in my life as of late.  Matters involving my family and what is best for them, my job situation, and my own personal happiness are the priority.    The blog  just did not make the top of the priority list (or the middle for that matter) lately.

Like some of my blogging compatriots, I have been questioning whether keeping OFF MY KNEES going is really in my best interest.  I have  been asking myself if this is moving me forward or if this is helping me sort out the mess I have created in my life.  I don’t think it is.  As a result, the number of posts on this blog have slowed down considerably.  I do not know if I will be pulling the plug on this, but it is a definite possibility at this point. 

I have to sort out the path to normalcy and happiness for myself.  No one else can do that for me.  I need to chart my own future and put down what is not working for me.  People close to me have been telling me to get rid of the things that are not making me happy.  An article I read not long ago recommended that on your 50th birthday you should let go of the 50 things that are not working in your life.  The universe is telling me to change.  It is almost beating me on the head at this point.  I am listening, finally!

I have pissed off a lot of people with this blog.  Some of them I care about.  Others (read as the apologists for the Church, the people who cannot see what is in front of their upturned noses and those that should have done something to deal with the crisis and did not) could fall off the earth tomorrow and it would not mean a thing to me.   

People in the Victim community (and by victim, I mean those who will not move forward but just sit wringing their hands waiting for someone else to save them) are mad at me because I dared to question the leadership of  SNAP and their methods.  (OK ,Bob from SNAP MN, you can start the hate mail again, I need a good laugh, you would not believe how bad I need to laugh at one of your ridiculous epistles.).  Others are focused on reforming the Catholic Church.  News Flash—- THAT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN! 

I have read the hate mail, read the threats of legal action or bodily harm.  I have been called delusional, deeply disturbed and crazy.  Not only from those who zealously and blindly defend those in their church who have enabled pedophiles but from the lemmings in the victim community who support a national leadership that has proven to be nothing more than a self licking ice cream cone (keep those donations coming, folks). Catholics seem to be particularly adept at writing the kind of vitriol that can only serve to prove that they will punish or attack anyone who dares to questions their leadership failures. 

The Catholic Church and other organizations that prey on the victim community for their livelihood are going to continue to try to maintain control and separation over survivors in order to either preserve treasure or create it.  The only way forward is through the state legislatures and the courts.   I would love to see the day when Federal prosecutors raid every diocese to get the files of the predators and expose the full extent of this crisis.

For years I have said that the only way to make the Catholic Church do the right thing (because as a religious entity, they are incapable of showing compassion, doing the moral thing, and following their own teachings) is to hold them to a legal standard that will punish them so severely and devastate their war chests so completely that they will have no choice than to do what is right and just. 

Sad, isn’t it?

So for now, I will leave the light on here.  The plug is not being pulled yet.    I will check in on the blogs of my fellow survivors and I will support the effort to change the laws of this country to allow for harsh punishment for all sexual predators who prey on children and vulnerable adults.  I will support and campaign for all legislation that allows for the prosecution of all those that had information on credible allegations and failed to report them (to include lots of jail time), I will support the stripping of non-profit tax benefits to any organized religion, let them pay into the communities that they are willing to destroy.

If given the opportunity, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or the States of New York or Florida, I will sue the Diocese of Scranton for the truth on Father Gibson and those that protected him and allowed him to prey on me and many more.  (Note, I did not mention money, I want the truth)

For Gibson’s other victims, please contact me.  Stay in touch.  There is hope and power in numbers.  Just please understand that I cannot solve all this with a blog.  I am not the answer, I am just one survivor asking questions, seemingly in the dark. 

None of this will ever be fixed while everyone sits on the sidelines.  So what are you doing?

While I have been a little under the weather recovering from a minor surgical procedure last week, I have been looking at some unfinished business.  So let me cover a couple of updates in this post before the night gets away from me.

  1. Still nothing official from SNAP.  The post that I put up over the summer took off and inspired an impressive number of comments, some of which I could not put up on the blog.  David Clohessy promised to get back with me over some issues.  But that did not happen.  I have been reading the SNAP site a little more closely and I have some comments that will form the basis of a separate post very soon. The only “SNAPper” I heard from was “Bob” in MN.  Bob, a real pit bull of a fellow, was quick to pick a fight but even quicker to reveal himself to be a bully.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did call him a “moron” in an email.  (Horrors!).  I did see one of his “movies” making fun of and attacking a victim of clergy sexual crimes.  I was impressed at the fact that a SNAP “Leader” was attacking a victim, it seems to show the mettle of the man and the organization.
  2. “Father” Virgil  Tetherow,  you may know him by a myriad of other names, seems to have taken up residence with a family in Dover, Pennsylvania after his “removal” from his position at the schismatic Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission in York, Pennsylvania.  A reader, familiar with that area in Pennsylvania, reports that Tetherow has told the locals that he  is “between churches”.  Interesting concept considering the shortage of priests in the Catholic Church.  For a moment I think he may have forgotten that he was forbidden from representing himself as a priest or ministering.  I guess that has slipped his mind and I bet he has not let his little home bound flock know that he has a past criminal record.  According to my source he is saying mass in the home for a small community of “faithful” in the home in which he is a guest.  Does the Diocese of Harrisburg track this guy?  Does the Diocese of Scranton?  He is one of their rogue priests after all!
  3. No word yet on my defection request from the Catholic Church.  The request went to the Diocese of Brooklyn about a month ago.  An official with the Diocese of Scranton acknowledged the receipt of a copy of my request, but they cannot act on it.  I am waiting on Bishop  “Nicky the Don” DiMarzio to set me free.  A second request will be going out by registered mail tomorrow.
  4. I am retooling the letter I sent to the U.S. Attorney in Pennsylvania requesting an investigation into the Diocese of Scranton and the support for predator priests in that See at the expense of victims and at considerable, albeit hidden, costs to the parishioners in the Diocese.  More on that in an upcoming post
  5. The Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton has asked me to come meet the bishop.  I would like for her to offer me a reason on why I should make the trip.  What exactly is the Bishop willing to do.  If the offer is for me to sit and explain my feelings and tell him what happened, I recommend you let him read my blog.  If he wants to offer to make a real and significant change in the way the Diocese deals with survivors, I am willing to have the conversation.
  6. I am looking at options to set up a blog roll for people who put out blogs like this one.  I will have more once I have the technology issues resolved.

That is all for the moment.  I have a day before I return to work .  Starting in October I have an ambitious travel schedule over a 10 month window  for a leadership program I am participating in related to my job.  I hope some of the things I pick up there I can apply here.  Maybe I can recommend some training to the leadership of SNAP.

It seems that my last post opened Pandora’s Box.  What I thought was going to be an expression of the reasons for my exit from SNAP turned into a flash point for people for and against the way SNAP operates.  I have received more email on both sides of this discussion than I expected.  It is running about 50/50 in support or opposition.  There are also the occasional nasty comments that seem to be focused on questioning the marital status of my parents at the time of my birth and the odd threat of retaliation for my “insensitive”  treatment of the leadership at SNAP.

With all due respect to those who have nothing but insults to throw,   Knock it off!

If you would like to have an open conversation about what I wrote, I am all in.  If you want to start demanding to know the religious affiliation of individuals in the organization, give it a rest.  I will not post any comments that attack the faith of individuals associated with SNAP at any level of that organization.  Everyone has the right to make decisions that are correct for them as individuals.  Whether or not a person remains a Catholic, converts to another faith or denomination or chooses to simply leave “organized” religion behind is a personal choice.

As I stated in my previous post, I don’t think it matters who is funding SNAP or how it was organized 22 years ago.  I believe that current methods, tactics and tools of the organization are not getting the job done.  I intended to draw a comparison between SNAP and the RCC in how they conducted business.

From my point of view, SNAP is engaged in a struggle with the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  While they are pursuing a course of action that I think is shortsighted, they are still not the bad guys.  That distinction is the sole domain of the hierarchy of the RCC and their apologists who are still denying that the church allowed the abuse of children and vulnerable adults to go on for decades.   I part company with SNAP when it comes to how I think we should collectively, as a community of survivors, engage our adversary.

I also don’t think that SNAP is the sum total of the survivor community.  The amount of email that came in more than backs up that thought.

Based on the feedback I received in the comments and emails that came in yesterday and today, it is clear that I hurt some feelings and possibly insulted other survivors.  That was not my intent.  I apologize to those who feel I have wrongly characterized their efforts on behalf of the survivor community.  I have reread my most recent post and, with the exception of some typos and misspellings that I have corrected, I stand by what I have written.

If you are one of the people that contacted me by email, rest assured I will not publish what you expressed in that correspondence without your permission.  If you sent your thoughts in a comment to this blog, they are fair game.  If you sent something that I saw as inappropriate or threatening, I will not publish it in this forum.  This is my blog and I will determine the content.  I am more than willing to publish both sides of this discussion as long as it is a civil discussion.

Time to get our collective eye on the ball.

Through an email released by SNAP to its leaders a few days ago, David Clohessy responded to the blog of  “a relatively new leader” (that would be me), specifically the post entitled What’s the SNAP Game Plan for the New Bishop of Scranton?

Some thoughts from David Clohessy

When SNAP issues public statements, like we did with Bambera, we have several goals.

Our first goal is to try to prevent future harm and betrayal. We feel it’s our obligation to point out recklessness, deceit and callousness in decision-makers. (If you know your neighbor’s dog has bitten kids, it’s your job, we believe, to warn the parents who move onto the block.) This is especially true when such a decision-maker is promoted and/or gets fawning public attention (as most incoming bishops do). That’s because there’s a natural, but dangerous temptation to assume that the new guy will automatically be better than the old guy. So when a new bishop is named, some survivors, witnesses and whistleblowers often think “Well, instead of calling the police, or the prosecutor, or a lawyer, or a journalist or SNAP, I’ll go to the new bishop and give him a chance to take action here.” We think that’s unwise and often leads to two unfortunate consequences. The individual ends up feeling hurt and betrayed again and the meeting ends up giving church officials more information and opportunities to better hide clergy sex crimes and better prepare themselves, PR-wise, for the day those crimes are revealed.

A second goal is to deter future recklessness, deceit and callousness by decision-makers. One way to do that is to show decision-makers that if they hurt victims or endanger kids, their wrong-doing will be remembered and exposed.

Put another way, we can’t change or control the actions of decision-makers. We can, and should, make people aware of those actions, so that individuals can be forewarned and protect themselves, and so that other decision-makers realize “Geez, if I am mean or deceptive or insensitive now, it may come back to  haunt me later.”

Now the issue of meeting with church officials. . .

As a moral matter, it seems to me that those who ignore or conceal child sex crimes should be the ones offering to meet with those who’ve been harmed. Many survivors, in fact, feel it’s unhealthy for us to go back time and time again to the same rigid, ancient, secretive, all-male church hierarchy seeking help, much as it’s often unhealthy for a battered spouse to keep reuniting with a violent partner again and again, just because the batterer says he or she will change.

As a practical matter, it seems that non-profits have a duty (especially small ones) to use scarce resources in the most productive ways possible. That’s certainly what we in SNAP try hard to do. We have essentially three choices.

1.We can focus our energies doing the things that we KNOW work: exposing predators, helping police, educating citizens, prodding whistleblowers and witnesses to act, setting up support groups across t he country, consoling the many survivors who contact us, and changing archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly laws.

2. We can try things that MIGHT work, good new ideas and approaches that are suggested to us.

3. Or we can go back to again trying things that have NOT worked in the past, and hope that somehow they’ll work now.

For us, the first two choices seem wise and safe and productive. The latter, for the most part, doesn’t.

For years, from 1988 through much of the 1990s, we met with a number of bishops, sometimes over and over again. The meetings were at best, a stunning waste of time, and at worst, hurtful and distracting, taking valuable time and energy that could and should have been put to more productive use.

No one really knows what’s in the hearts and minds of others. So we have to make assumptions. There are, I think, two basic assumptions. One is that bishops act the way they do because they lack knowledge. The other is that bishops act the way they do because they lack courage. For years, we believed the former. Experience, history and common sense, however, have convinced us of the latter.

Our view is NOT that we spend too little time meeting with church officials. It’s that we spend too much time doing so. Because we are good people, with good intentions, and want to protect kids, we give church officials more and more and more opportunities to make excuses, shift blame, posture as victims, and mislead us, instead of concentrating on doing the outreach we’ve always done that we know really works. And we talk with bishops, which gives them more and more chances to posture as “pastoral” to the public and parishioners, just because they’re willing to spent a few minutes in the same room with us.

So our advice to our dedicated, caring volunteer SNAP leaders, and others, is this: Use your precious time, energy and resources prudently. If a church official asks you to meet, give it serious consideration. Be open-minded. Don’t immediately reject any new or unusual offer or approach.

But think about it long and hard first. Talk with other experienced SNAP leaders. Keep in mind that you, and others, may end up being or feeling betrayed and used. You will likely end up believing it was a waste of time.

If you still may want to arrange such a meeting, here’s a suggested safe, reasonable first step. Ask, before agreeing to meet, for a tangible, helpful action from the bishop as a sign of “good faith.” Ask the bishop, in advance, to put

  • a link to SNAP in his diocesan newspaper first,
  • a notice (that WE write or approve) urging victims to call police in his parish bulletins first, or
  • a list of predator priests on his diocesan website first.

Don’t like these ideas? Come up with your own. (It’s best to make them quick, inexpensive, practical ‘action steps,’ preferably ones other church officials have done. It’s best to avoid vague, symbolic self-serving public relations stuff like ‘hold a healing service.’) Then tell the church official “Do one of these first. That’ll show us you’re sincere and that sitting down face-to-face might be fruitful. Surely you understand our hesitancy and skepticism. So just do one thing now to heal the wounded or protect the vulnerable. Then we’ll feel more reassured and optimistic and we’ll consider meeting with you.”

But our bottom line recommendation is

  • Persistently educate others about corrupt decision-makers, so people can protect themselves, and
  • Relentlessly focus yourself on the efforts that we KNOW make a difference (rather than gamble on activities that may or may not make a difference and might well end up further harming those already in pain).

In any organization there will be disagreements. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Clohessy on a couple of points and I do have some suggestions, some of which I brought up at the August 2009 SNAP conference in Northern Virginia. I suggested that we make use of social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc…) to better communicate with each other. When the conversations all go through one point there is the potential of filtering. Survivors should be able to talk to other survivors, especially those in remote locations where the SNAP organization is either not available or not active. I recommend that we come up with a listing of survivors who are blogging or managing websites that cover this subject. We should link our sites or blogs to each other. We can use those resources as an additional way to get the word out. They could be grouped under the “Speaking Out” page.

One of the core principles that I have stuck to with my blog is to do no harm to another survivor. I have talked to some survivors who wish to remain anonymous. I have had long phone calls and email exchanges with classmates or siblings of victims. I have kept their comments in confidence. I have advised them to seek out help from law enforcement, district attorneys, and referred them to organizations that could assist them, including SNAP. I specifically advised them not to go to the diocese with the initial report.

I take issue with Mr. Clohessy insinuating that I am hurting other victims. 

As for meeting with the Bishop-elect of Scranton, that will be my decision, when and if an agreement to meet is reached. I do have conditions, although not necessarily those mentioned by SNAP’s National Director. I have and will continue to seek the advise of those who I trust. If I do go and meet with him, I will not be doing so as a SNAP representative, I will not be calling for a press conference and I will not represent myself to be anything else than a survivor who would like some answers. I understand that I may be ultimately disappointed, however that is for me to determine.

I am hoping there is room in SNAP for differing opinions.

Copyright

This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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