Support Groups Speak Out on Church Abuse
story by: Jennifer Cahill
The two groups were 'Silent Lambs' out of Paducah, KY and SNAP, the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, from St. Louis, MO. They say their goal is to encourage victims to come forward and seek help.
Victims want church to stop hiding sex crimes
Sep 3, 2007 09:42 AM
Sex abuse victims call on the Evansville Archdiocese to stop hiding church sex crimes.
Sunday, victims stood outside St. Benedict Cathedral handing out leaflets urging Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger to be more forthcoming about abusive priests.
This comes just weeks after the diocese announced Monsignor Othmar Schroeder abused several boys during his nearly 30 years at a Jasper church.
David Clohessy was abused for four years by a Missouri priest. He recovered from the abuse by directing the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, otherwise known as SNAP.
Clohessy helps other victims heal by encouraging them to come forward about the abuse.
Handing out leaflets at St. Benedict Cathedral, Clohessy is focusing on the Evansville Archdiocese, and the recent announcement of abuse by the deceased Monsignor Othmar Schroeder, who spent nearly 30 years at Holy Family Church in Jasper.
Clohessy says, "Bishop Gettelfinger has told the media beginning in 2002 that other priests have been accused of abuse who's names he's not disclosing. And we think the Catholics in Evansville and the public at large deserve to know who these dangerous men are."
Father Gary Hayes from St. Alphonsus in St. Joseph, Kentucky,says he has one question, "The question for me is why did it take eleven years for all of this to come out?"
Father Gary says being open is the only way to heal. He knows first hand, he was also abused by priests.
But the abuse goes beyond the Catholic Church, as a Jehovah's Witness sexual abuse group, Silent Lambs, joins the gathering.
William Bowen from the Silent Lambs, says the problem is huge in his community also, "We have seen cases as many as 60 Jehovah's Witness children have been molested because none of the them were considered credible witnesses to the person that was actually molesting them."
Most parishioners had nothing to say, but what they did say is that they hope outsiders don't let Monsignor Schroeder's abuse taint their church.
Parishioner, Mark Browning, has been patient, he says he understands Bishop Gettelfinger has a lot on his plate, "If all of us were wearing his moccasins that's not an easy position to be in. He wants to be fair to everybody and to be fair you need a lot of information."
14 News left a message for Bishop Gettelfinger at the archdiocese for a comment, but those calls were not returned.
Priest Abuse Fliers
Reported by: LaTonya Stephens
Sunday, Sep 2, 2007 @08:37pm CST
Victims of abuse are asking other victims to step out of the shadows and the Evansville diocese to acknowledge their responsibilities.
Clohessy says for 11 years Bishop Gettelfinger has known that Schroeder is a predator and yet kept silent.
Those wanting to learn more about the SNAP victim's group can log onto www.snapnetwork.org.
Number of Allegations Rises Against Southern Indiana Priest
Church officials in Evansville say more than 10 people have come forward with allegations they were sexually abused by a southern Indiana priest decades ago.
September 1, 2007
More than 10 say late S. Indiana priest abused them
Bishop has asked that the man's picture be removed from the church he founded
By Ryan Lenz
EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Roman Catholic church officials said Friday that more than 10 people have come forward with allegations they were sexually abused by a Southern Indiana priest.
The Diocese of Evansville said the number of allegations against Monsignor Othmar Schroeder, who died in 1988, has continued to grow since Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger announced the abuse during sermons at a Jasper church two weekends ago.
Diocese spokesman Paul Leingang said the allegations were the most against one priest in the diocese's 64-year history, but he cited church confidentiality in not providing more specific numbers.
"The continual thing is the invitation for people who have been abused to come forward," Leingang said.
Schroeder, a once-admired priest, was the founding pastor of the Holy Family Church in Jasper, about 50 miles northeast of Evansville. He remained at the parish for 28 years.
The allegations in recent weeks have led the bishop to ask for Schroeder's picture to be removed from Holy Family and for the Knights of Columbus branch in Jasper to change the name of a memorial in his honor.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said he expected the number of allegations of abuse at Schroeder's hands to grow.
"My hunch is that if 10 have come forward, there may well be dozens more still trapped in shame and confusion," Clohessy said. "Typically only the tip of the iceberg comes forward."
Clohessy, a victim of clergy sexual abuse, planned to protest Sunday outside Evansville's cathedral with fliers demanding church officials disclose details of "a pedophile priest's sex crimes" and urge others abused by clergy to come forward.
Gettelfinger has told diocese congregations in the past two weeks that he learned of the allegations as early as 1996, but that his commitment at the time was to offer counseling and protect victims' confidentiality.
The scope of the abuse, however, now appears "greater than we knew," the bishop said.
BishopAccount ability.org, a Massachusetts group that has amassed thousands of documents on abusive priests and their bishops, lists eight priests from the Evansville Diocese accused of misconduct, including two who have been convicted of possessing child pornography.
The number is the second highest in the state's five dioceses, falling behind the Archdiocese of Indianapolis with 16 priests, according to the organization's tally.