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Apr-21-2008 22:17printcomments

Statement From SNAP On Catholic Sex Abuse Developments

The group that represents victims and survivors of priest sex abuse speaks out on the local impact of top level Catholic admissions of pedophile priest abuse.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out with compassion to almost 74 million Catholics in America on the reality of the sex abuse scandal that has shook the church nationally.

Pope Benedict has communicated how ashamed he is for priests sexually abusing minors in America. The Pope has made an appeal to bishops to foster healing and reconciliation to victims in their diocese.

SNAP is hopeful that Archbishop Vlazny who has not spoken publicly on the sex abuse scandal since the bankruptcy will heed the Popes appeal to foster reconciliation and healing here in the Portland Archdiocese and that it will not be business as usual for Vlazny upon his return.

We hope that he will address the issue publicly and not continue to hide behind his spokesperson Bud Bunce.

Archbishop Vlazny has a responsibility to speak publicly just as the Pope has done, the problem will not go away by being silent.

SNAP hopes to meet with Archbishop Vlazny and exchange olive branches as an outward illustration that their will be a long term commitment to victims and their families and that victims will have a voice and be able to meet with Vlazny monthly and work shoulder to shoulder to in the healing process and a long overdue reform on how local victims are treated.

SNAP is also hopeful that all documents will be released on the Archbishops initiative and not a court order that is currently costing local Catholics tens of thousands of dollars. Let us all be reminded that April is also national child sexual abuse awareness month. Lets not forget those victims in Portland who took their own lives.

SNAP is encouraged by the Pope to speak publicly about that sex abuse scandal but would like to see the Pope administer discipline among the bishops who knowingly put children in harms way. SNAP sees that step as being problematic because Cardinal Levada who heads up the Vatican office in Rome on sex abuse cases.

Levada was Archbishop of the Portland Archdiocese from 1986-95 played a big part in putting abusive priest back in ministry and had access to all the files of abusive priests that circulated through the Portland Archdiocese. That baton of secrecy was later passed into the hands of Archbishop Vlazny who still kept abusive priest in ministry. It does not make senses that Levada heads up this office of the Vatican.

How could he initiate disciplinary measures among US bishops when he is guilty himself. In an article below Levada communicates they were mistakes based on counsel that was given to bishops at the time. The Dallas Morning News reported in June of 2002 that 75 percent of US Bishops knowingly aided and shuffled abusive Priests.

If this report was to be updated Bishop Vlazny would be one of the bishops recognized in how he handled the Rev. Baccellieri and Fr. Spraur and secret documents (that came out through the bankruptcy) about abusive priests that totaled nearly 100 priests in the Portland Archdiocese.

The ball is in Archbishop Vlazny court, he is under the Vatican powers as the spiritual leader of the state of Oregon. If we are to witness change in the days ahead it is up to Archbishop Vlazny.

SNAP and local victims along with their families are tired of empty ill-willed promises of policies such as the Dallas Charter of 2002 we want to witness change by actions that Pope Benedict has communicated this week.

For the first time in the history of the ongoing sex abuse scandal a message came first hand to 74 million Catholics from the Pope himself that there is ongoing problem in the US in how sex abuse victims are treated by bishops and members of the clergy.

Its time for change. SNAP believes that reality hit many Catholics for the first time because the Pope communicated that there a problem that need to be addressed with sincerity and the days of secrecy among bishops needs to be confronted and come to an end.

Will the two Portland area priests who met with the Pope have a message of healing for local victims?

Roughly two-thirds of top U.S. Catholic leaders have allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to keep working, a systematic practice that spans decades and continues today, a three-month Dallas Morning News review shows.

The study - the first of its kind - looked at the records of the top leaders of the nation?s 178 mainstream Roman Catholic dioceses, including acting administrators in cases where the top job is vacant.

Excluded from the study were auxiliary bishops who, in larger dioceses, serve in subordinate roles but still can vote on many matters before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the 17 bishops who lead eparchies, which are diocese-like entities that worship according to the Eastern rite.

In checking whether a bishop had protected priests or other church representatives accused of sexual abuse, reporters Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin relied on published reports, court records, interviews and church records obtained in civil litigation.

Most protected priests were accused of sexually abusing minors - primarily adolescent boys, but also younger ones, and a sizable number of girls of various ages.

The newspaper's study also covered behavior that indicated a sexual attraction to minors, such as viewing child pornography or, in one case, trading sexually charged e-mails with someone a priest believed was a minor.

Here are links to four stories that SNAP suggest for people who want to learn more about this serious problem:

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