Diocese of Brooklyn – Organized Roman Collar Crime Syndicate.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Darth Vader

The Catholic Church seems to be able to universally choose to do absolutely the wrong thing on a regular basis. It amazes me that so many bishops, who claim to be intellectuals and men of god, can be so devoutly focused on maintaining their status at any cost.  Parishioners be damned, it is all about the bishops and their cronies.  I have no doubt that Governor Frank Keatings nailed it correctly when he made the assessment that the Catholic Church acts in a manner more reminiscent of La Cosa Nostra.  You know, the mob, the mafia, organized crime.

A case in point can be found in New York.  The New York Catholic Conference, a holy and pious group of Catholics who do the bidding of the Archbishop of New York and the Bishops of the other Diocese in the Empire State, have been behaving badly.  As noted in Kay Eberling’s Blog City of Angels 5:  Hope 2009 and documented by the New York Times and other news sources, opponents of the New York Child Victim’s Act bussed in 3 busloads of supporters to counter-demonstrate against Victims of Priest Sexual Crimes. At the behest of the Bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop ” Nicky the Don” DiMarzio and a low life, bottom feeding, pedophile supporting City Assemblyman named Vito Lopez brought in their minions (obviously a political favor returned for some other sleazy deal) to shout down the supporters of the Act that will come up for review again in Albany in the fall.

What is the most galling is that the Lopez’s minions, many of whom did not understand what they were counter-demonstrating against, chanted and began pelting the victims of pedophile priests with coins.  That would be a battery for those legal watchers out there.  One report even had a pastor, a catholic priest, pushing a victim aside when that individual tried to engage him in a discussion.  Shocking! A catholic priest getting physical, say it isn’t so!  Where were the police? Perhaps he would have been one of the first to be exposed as a pedophile should the bill pass.  No wonder he was so upset. One can only speculate at why these priests would support assault and battery on victims of sexual crimes perpetrated by priests.

Bishop “Nicky the Don” DiMarzio must miss New Jersey.  I am sure he gets all misty when he watches reruns of the Sopranos from his palatial digs on Prospect Park West.  Nice neighborhood!  I know this because I grew up in Park Slope. We won’t delve into the controversy surrounding the removal of the long time principal of  St. Saviour Elementary School, where I went to school from grade 1 to grade 7 here (maybe later so you get a more rounded picture of how sleazy Nicky the Don can be).   Obviously, the vow of poverty is overlooked for a New Jersey gangster wannabe  priest that ended up climbing the corporate ladder in the Catholic Church.  I wonder if he is paying Vito Lopez off in alter boys?

What has been documented is that Bishop “Nicky the Don” DiMarzio has threatened to close parishes and schools in the districts of New York lawmakers who vote in favor of the New York Child Victim’s Act.  Great threat Nicky! Mama DiMarzio must be so proud back in the old country, New Jersey.  How does that play out?  You intend to punish innocent parishioners and school children if you don’t get your way with the lawmakers?  This is obviously a great and benevolent Shepherd to the flock in Brooklyn.  Funny, when I was a kid in Brooklyn, we wouldn’t tolerate some thug from across the Hudson threatening our neighborhoods and families.  I guess when the thug is wearing a roman collar, it is alright to turn the other cheek.  Let me tell you from experience, turning your other cheek near a Catholic priest may be a very dangerous and painful thing.

You have to wonder why “Nicky the Don” is so afraid of this legislation.  He says it will bankrupt the Diocese.  Even though that theory has been debunked in California and Delaware where similar legislation was passed, the bishop clings to this excuse.  What is more likely, is that “Nicky the Don” understands the extent of the pedophile problem in the Diocese of Brooklyn as well as in the other diocese in the Evil Empire State.  He knows that there are a great number of priests, perhaps some close to the bishop who have indulged in their perversion for little boys or little girls.  He knows that there are priests that have taken advantage of vulnerable adults.  He knows that his “good deal” will be negatively impacted if it becomes public knowledge that he has supported pedophiles and put children at risk by not taking appropriate action to deal with pedophile priests.  That action can only be handing them over to the criminal justice system.   He knows and he has decided to lie, cheat and misrepresent to avoid having to tell the truth and face the parishioners in the Diocese.  He is a thug and he is being supported by the spineless assemblymen who are getting sweetheart deals to vote against the bill. Ah, New York politics at its best.

If the bill were voted down on it’s own merits, I could live with that.  If it is voted down because of a smear campaign by the Catholic Roman Collar Crime Machine run out of the Chanceries in Brooklyn, Manhattan and points north and west, that would be a sin.  Something with which the bishops are intimately familiar.

Tell me Nicky, if you have the stones, why do you support priests that rape children?  Why are you so afraid of a law that protects children and allows for some justice for those who have been victimized by priests, nuns, teachers, scoutmasters, etc?  Are you really that threatened by the truth?  Do you have any idea of the damage done by the 5-9% of the priests that decide that they get off on sexual crimes against children.  Tell me Bishop, how many pedophiles are you protecting?  What do they have on you?

How can this thug be called a Bishop? Is there not one priest in the state of New York who will put faith, service, compassion and the truth ahead of the bishops’ calls for threats, treachery, and lies?  The Cardinal wants the bill to fail, given his track record of supporting pedophiles in the midwest and in Connecticut, it isn’t a surprise. I wonder if he is wringing his hands over the decision of the courts to release documents that will prove that the Bishops lie as a matter of corporate policy.   New York needs to open its eyes to the carpetbaggers in their churches.  These men are perpetuating the climate that allows your children to become the victims of the pedophiles in your midst.

Abuse thrives in an atmosphere of secrecy.  It is time to understand that concept and take action.

Support passage of the New York Child Victims Act and let the truth come out.  It will be painful, but it is the only way for the changes that are required to keep our kids safe.  Let the pain be visited on those who committed the atrocities or those that supported them.  You will be surprised to see the support that these monsters had, all the way up through the Archbishops, past and present.

The Best and the Worst of SNAP 2009

After the SNAP conference wrapped up on 9 August just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.  I hopped in my car and headed out to enjoy a nice Sunday Drive down I -95 towards my home in Chesapeake, Virginia.  On a good day, the trip should have taken around 3 hours.  Sunday was not a good day on I-95 South!  My 3 hour trip ended up being about 6 hours thanks to heavy volume and a few accidents that slowed the usual break-necked pace down spine of the eastern seaboard.

The trip gave me time to think about the SNAP Conference.  It was my first and I was more than just a little apprehensive about attending.  I had no idea what to expect.  I was struggling to sort out my notes, my observations and my reactions to all that I participated in over the weekend and I had no idea how I was going to present what I brought home from the conference.

It was my wife who solved my dilemma by asking a simple question.  She wanted to know what was the best and the worst of what I had experienced.  This is a question I can answer.

We’ll start with the best.  The three presentations that I found to be the most informative, useful or thought provoking were by (and this is in no particular order) Governor Frank Keating, Wendy Murphy and Angela Shelton.

Governor Keating gave an overview of the problems he experienced with the United States Council of Catholic Bishops when they asked him to head the National Review Board in 2003.    Even though he was libeled by the very group that appointed him to chair the board, his faith remains intact.  He is disheartened by the actions of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church but he sees the continuation of the struggle to hold the pedophiles and their protectors and apologists accountable as the way to save his church.   He gave me hope that people still active in the church are hoping to make a change and are willing to stand up and demand that the Catholic Church face its problems and right the wrongs that have fractured the church and victimized the most vulnerable

Wendy Murphy gave a very animated, engaging  discussion on the language used in the discussion of the problems of sexual crimes.  Although many in the room saw this conversation as controversial and some even left the room having been upset or offended by her candid remarks, I felt that Ms. Murphy drove home that words have meaning and that words are important.  She was brilliant in her delivery and made me rethink the words I use in this blog and in my discussions with others when I am advocating for reform and justice for survivors of sexual crimes committed by priests.  I will be heading to the bookstore to get her book.

Angela Shelton was the highlight of the weekend.  Although the write-up in the program guide made me a little leary of the presentation, I stayed and listened to this strong willed woman talk about overcoming trauma and finding a way to find laughter, joy and happiness.  This  presentation was a wild ride.  Ms. Shelton had an incredible story to tell and very helpful advise on moving forward.  She did it with humor without demeaning anyone.  She had the room rolling with laughter.  Let me tell you, that was a rough room.  I’m a fan!

I also want to send a nod the folks at Bishop Accountability. They are working tirelessly to archive all the data on the ongoing sex scandal in the Catholic Church. They have several useful projects in the works on tracking the history of Bishops in the United States and developing cross referencing techniques to make research easier for those of us using the information. My hat is off to them, they really are doing great things for all of us.

As for the worst of SNAP, I did not enjoy Marie Fortune’s speech entitled “Called to Make Justice”.  It started going down hill when she brusquely corrected the gentleman who introduced her for mispronouncing her name as “Mary” vice “Marie”.  I am not sure about everyone else in the room, but I heard her introduced as “Marie”.  The message was supposed to have been on “justice as the foundation of healing, accountability and reforms in our churches”.  Reverend Fortune lost me early.  I felt as if my junior high school principle was lecturing us in an assembly that was going over its allotted time.  For me, there was just not much of a connection.

My biggest beef was the room.  We were on the ballroom level of the hotel, two floors down below street level.  WiFi in the hotel was just not working here.  The WiFi service in the hotel came with a $10 a day user fee.  As frequently as I stay in this area for business (at least monthly) I found the fees and the quality of the service to be lacking.  If you were in the Hyatt lobby you were able to get free WiFi from other providers in the area.  I was not able to twitter (from my iTouch) or blog from the conference  room as I had intended.  I hope that next year we will be in a location that will allow the use of computers to get information out quickly.

The most useful part of the conference were the conversations I was able to have with people from all over the country who were on a similar journey as I was on.  Some were very active in writing legislation, working with other survivors, running SNAP programs on local, state, national and international levels.  Some were just trying to keep themselves from falling apart.    As in any organization, some are very critical of the organization and others profess the group can do no wrong.  I think that the truth of the effectiveness of SNAP lies somewhere in between.  There were axe grinders in attendance as well as cheerleaders.  But mostly I saw dedicated, motivated individuals trying to turn a very ugly destructive part of their lives into a force for change, justice and hope.  For me, there were some genuine heroes in the room such as a young woman named Meagan (forgive me if I spelled your name incorrectly), a 19 year old  who had the courage to stand up and fight for justice against the priest that took advantage of her vulnerability during her  father’s terminal illness to prey on her.  I also saw parents who supported their son and went after the priest that committed sexual batteries against him.  There were volunteers who were working to get the Child Victims Act of New York to a vote on the floor of the New York State Legislature who earned their battle scars to protect children.  There were many courageous men and women in the room who were working, without seeking glory for themselves, to help themselves and others find peace.

Despite what the Bishops say about this organization, we can move forward because we have the truth on our side.  As long as the Catholic Church hides pedophiles and tries to isolate survivors we have the moral high ground. There is much that needs to be done.

Still unresolved is the location of SNAP 2010.  The speakers offered Chicago as the most likely location.  Shouts of “San Franciso”, “New Orleans” and even advocates of a state park with a lake (not sure that this is an event conducive to tents, smores and vats of Deep Woods Off, but who am I to judge?).  Where ever it is, I hope I will be able to go back.  I wonder if my wife is up for a road trip?

The SNAP Conference in Washington DC

I arrived yesterday afternoon to the Hyatt in Crystal City for the SNAP 2009 Conference.  The theme is “Coming of Age! Prevention, Healing and Justice”  This is the 21 anniversary of the founding of SNAP, so the “Coming of Age” theme is prevalent as the group declares a maturity and expansion beyond just the universe of Catholic victims of sexual crimes.  (Last night I learned that the word “assault” does not cut it, more later.)

Not without hiccups, I arrived at registration to find that my name was not on the list of attendees.  I guess I signed up to early!  That issue quickly resolved I headed in and sat with a table of complete strangers.  If you know me, this is not the kind of thing I generally do.

The first presentation was meant to get the crowd warmed up for the slate of speakers.  That first Speaker was Barbara Blaine who gave a presentation on the development of SNAP from a small group of Mid West survivors to an organization growing to other faith and  secular groups while transcending international borders.

Second up was Victor Vieth discussing the five obstacles keeping us from significantly reducing child abuse in the United States.  (More on that very soon, I promise).

The final speaker of the evening was a very interesting woman named Wendy Murphy.  She gave a discussion entitled “Redressing Problematic Language in Sexual Violence Narrative to Fight Eroticism, Victim Blaming and Harmless and Vague Terms in Social and Legal Discourse.  An attorney and law professor from Massachusetts, Ms. Murphy was animated and direct.  I thought her presentation was thought provoking and enlightening.  I was amazed to later find several participants who were not as enthusiastic with her discussion.  She may have been a little on the shocking side to some, but considering the audience in the room, what can be more shocking?

What may be the most useful point of the conference is meeting and networking.  SNAP is, after all, a network.  I think it time that the network re-energizes the base of the organization and gets the dialogue going strong so that we can move on to the changes that need to be made in society to protect children and vulnerable adults.

A quick side note,  Kim Fischer is here making a documentary.  She has made a few very good short documentaries on the subject of the sexual battery in the Catholic Church.  I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with out of this conference. Check out her website to see some of her work.

More later.