Opinion: Massena woman says do not be silent through fear
Friday, July 20, 2018 - 8:05 am

To the Editor:

I attended the Survivors Network of Abuse by Priests conference In Chicago July 5 to 8.

I have been a contributing member of SNAP the last two years. It was wonderful to see so many courageous survivors sharing what they had suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church hierarchy and priests. Those at the conference are dedicated to saving other children and adults from the same fate. The Catholic Hierarchy have for centuries lust let the abused suffer with no compassion or help. In fact they have lied and because of those lies, millions of lives have been destroyed, many by suicide, drugs, alcohol or other self-inflicted wounds. Those abusers were often transferred to other parishes or left for years to repeat the abuse. The victims, children or adults, had to stay quiet because of threats against them or their families, or because the trauma was too much for them to handle. Many abusers were sent to therapy and we parishioners paid millions to help something that couldn’t be cured, while families struggled to help their loved ones.

SNAP Network celebrated its 30th anniversary on July 6 and Fr. Thomas Doyle was the recipient of the Barbara Blaine Founder’s award. Fr. Doyle was ordained in 1970 and worked as a parish priest, church administrator and teacher. He was a USAF chaplain and attained the rank of major, serving in Germany and Iraq. He holds 16 military awards and decorations for his distinguished service. He holds a doctorate in canon law and five master’s degrees in philosophy, theology, church administration, canon law and political science. Fr. Doyle also worked as a canon lawyer in the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C. for six years. He is a world expert in clerical abuse and received several awards for his advocacy work. In June 2003 he was issued an official commendation from the Dominican Fathers for his “prophetic work in drawing attention to clergy sexual abuse and for advocating the rights of victims and abusers,” the Cavello Award for Moral Courage, and the Isaac Hecker Award from the Paulist Fathers. He was called to the Vatican by Pope Francis to help on the Sexual Abuse Commission, and continues his advocacy in Australia, Ireland, Israel, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States. He dared to speak the truth and was penalized by the church. Nevertheless, because of his work, otjer priests, worldwide, are starting to take a stand against those who abuse because it has harmed the church and their calling.

Many other experts attended the SNAP conference including Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney portrayed in the award-winning film “Spotlight.” He has represented hundreds of clients against the Catholic Church for sexual abuse and started the case against former priest John J. Geoghan, the priest in Boston that abused so many and for which Cardinal Law was relieved of his position for covering up the abuses that went on for many years.

Chrissie Foster, from Melbourne, Australia, also presented at the conference. Her two daughters were sexually abused in Catholic school. She wrote the story of her devastating experience with Journalist Paul Kennedy in a book called “Hell on the Way to Heaven.” Her book led to a Parliament of Victoria inquiry into sexual abuse in religious organizations which in turn led to the Australia-wide royal commission. In 2017, she participated is the Australian ABC documentary “Undeniable,” which portrays her 22-year crusade.

I have always advocated for those who have no voice. I hope the laity will realize that our children are our most precious gift. Pedophiles and psychopaths have no place in the church, period. St. Catherine of Siena said, “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.”

Brenda M. Littlejohn