Cardinal Dolan's Verdun Strategy For SNAP
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 05:02:07 PM EST
In early 1916, the First World War was entering its third year. For over two years the German army had been locked in a stalemate with the forces of Britain and France on the Western Front.  The German high command decided on a strategy intended to "bleed France white" by drawing the French Army into a battle of attrition centered on the forts of Verdun.   But in pursuit of this strategy, the Germans almost bled themselves out instead.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the most powerful leader of the the Catholic Church in the United States -- may be leading his church towards a similar outcome, having adopted a similar strategy towards groups seeking greater accountability for the Catholic hierarchy's handling of pedophile clergy.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St, Joseph, Missouri has been charged, along with his diocese, for allegedly failing to notify authorities about his constructive knowledge of sex abuse of children by Rev. Shawn Ratigan. Concurrent civil law suits are going forward against Finn's and another diocese seeking damages. One of these also includes allegations of sexual misconduct against Fr. Michael Tierney, a Kansas City priest who had allegedly been abusing minors since the 1970s.

Dolan, seeking to alter the unenviable legal position of the Church in the long running pedophilia scandal is now leading his forces in an effort to bleed his opponents white.  The target is SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests .  And like the Kaiser's army at Verdun, Dolan's strategy may have unintended consequences.

The current battle features the subpoenaing of executives from SNAP in a series of depositions that are apparently designed to wear out the victims' group. At the same time, they are seeking the names of confidential sources and contacts that the organization has had with regard to complaints about pedophile priests.

Along with Voice of the Faithful and BishopAccountability.com, SNAP has led the fight for greater transparency from the Church on matters of pedophilia in general and in seeking accountability from Bishop Finn in particular.  This led Catholic League president Bill Donohue to recently declare:  "SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church." Dolan apparently shares this view and the strategy that grew out of it.  But his office oddly denied it before he affirmed it.  

Bill Donohue recently told The New York Times, "The bishops have come together collectively.  I can't give you the names, but there's a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don't need altar boys."

The Cardinal's USCCB spokesperson, Sister Mary Ann Walsh claimed that Donohue had misspoken. But then Dolan himself republished Donohue's original statement on his blog.  The National Catholic Reporter commented:

Cardinal Dolan, with his blog posting, it seems to us, is taking the same approach political candidates take to their Super PACs: not running them, don't really know what they are doing on my behalf (wink, wink), can't help they are saying exactly what I want to, and boy do I love the dough they are socking into it.

If you agree with this approach, please do nothing, Cardinal Dolan and Mr. Donohue have it well in hand.

The purpose of the subpoenas and depositions appear more designed to intimidate than to effect justice.

As the Times recently reported, "...SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the [Finn] litigation.  But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis," further noting, "its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year."

The object is, the The Times continued, "...to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists."

In an earlier post on the Finn scandal, I reported how several Catholic Right organizations with overlapping members and interests have rallied to Finn's defense.  These players are well funded and have powerful attorneys with which to bury opponents in a mountain of litigation motions, particularly Opus Bono Sacerdotii. In contrast, SNAP's legal team is made up of two pro bono small practice attorneys.

Meanwhile, Finn's criminal trial is going forward.  The judge recently wrote in denying a recent defense motion seeking to dismiss the charges or at least sever Finn's trial from the diocese, that "the evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law."

While it is possible that Dolan's forces may succeed in bleeding SNAP white, and victims of pedophile priests and confidential sources of information may be scared off by the possibility the potential loss of confidentiality -- history shows that attrition strategies often backfire.

At Verdun, even though the Germans inflicted over 500,000 casualties upon the French, they themselves lost over 400,000 men - and the battle -- and had the effect of deepening French national resolve.  They recognized the nature of the beast they were up against and that Kaiser's army was willing to go to any length to destroy their nation.

Indeed, it is also possible that the battle of Missouri may well turn out to be Dolan's Verdun, and bleed the Church white.  The everyday faithful will see his bully-effort for what it is: A continuing effort to avoid accountability for the abuses of children in the care of the Church.




Display:
Is there any way that non-Catholics can support the efforts of SNAP? Do they have a legal fund set up to receive donations? Are there petitions to sign? Thanks!

by MLouise on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 05:48:12 PM EST
Just click right here.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 08:42:18 PM EST
Parent
The commenter noted the USCCB was emulating the litigation strategy of the Scientologists, who are notoriously litigious. The USCCB is definitely not taking the high road, and ultimately it will pay in lost reputation and respect for the hierarchy.

by khughes1963 on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:36:28 PM EST
Parent

Thanks for the link. I just sent them a donation and a note of encouragement. The bishops' response is outrageous. Someone should go read Matthew 23 to them. (That's the "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites..." section.)

by MLouise on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 08:50:05 AM EST
Parent



--for this article.

To all victims who have been sexually abused by clerics, your voices are strong, powerful, and being heard...!..
The church officials can't shut us up. They can't shove all the victims back under their control of silence.

The can of worms has been opened, and that is only because very brave victims of clergy sex abuse are speaking up, coming forward, contacting the police, exposing the truth, and trying their hardest to not allow another child to be given the life sentence of harm which they were dealt.

For those who wish to help ...On our website - SNAPnetwork.org - are simple suggestions for helping victims beat back this assault against them by top Catholic officials. Please check it out. Thanks.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511 <snapjudy@gmail.com>
"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" and all clergy.

by JudyJones on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 12:16:01 PM EST

There are a lot of women and men who were sexually abused as kids by clergy from fundamentalist/dominionist denominations, and I don't know (1) if there are organizations to help them cope, and (2) if there are, SNAP is working with them.  From your signature line, your organization is starting to include them (this is the first I've heard of that if it is so).  From the people I've talked and communicated with, there are many other people "out there" who need help and who also would probably help your organization.

Has your organization looked at that aspect of the situation - are there any others like yours which could partner up with you?

(It would be good to have a reference/source for people I encounter who had been abused like that.)


by ArchaeoBob on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 01:14:16 PM EST
Parent




WWW Talk To Action


Bishop Robert Finn Resigns Leadership of St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese
Bishop Robert W. Finn, the Opus Dei Bishop who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a......
By Frank Cocozzelli (5 comments)
Two Overlooked Indiana Outcomes that Could Haunt the Christian Right
I think there are two underreported features of the fallout from Indiana that we should make sure do not get lost in the hoo......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
President Obama Can Help Stop Religious Discrimination
Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Marriage Matters: Thoughts On The Recent Unpleasantness In Indiana
Last week I taped an interview with Sister Maureen Fielder, host of "Interfaith Voices," a popular radio program exploring religious issues that is carried......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Campaign Against Pro-LGBTQ Denominations
The recent endorsement of marriage equality by the Presbyterian Church (USA) seemed like a good moment to discuss the campaign to divide and conquer......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Upcoming Conference: From Abortion Rights to Social Justice
The 29th annual conference From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom will be held from April 10-12 at Hampshire......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Why Is Bishop Robert Finn Still In Power?
As I reported in September 2014, Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has been under Vatican investigation to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
Thus It Was Prophesied in 2012: Ted Cruz Will Be VP, Or a Supreme Court Justice
This is a transcript, of pastor Larry Huch and Rafael Cruz, father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, from an appearance Rafael Cruz made at......
By Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Crusin with Cruz
Ted Cruz threw his hat into the ring, announcing his bid for President in the worship center at Jerry Falwell's University last night.  Mother......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Ted Cruz: Born From The Heart of the Dominionist Christian Right
[welcome, Thom Hartmann Show fans, here is a short introduction to my past coverage on Ted Cruz and the dominionist Christian right] Did you......
By Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Coming Soon to Utah: An International Festival of Bigotry
An international network of some of the world's most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Bumpy Lane: Religious Right Operative Seeks To Build (Another) Church-Based Political Machine
Here's what the country doesn't need right now: another zealot aiming to mobilize right-wing pastors to become a force in electoral politics.Yet that's what......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Team Jeb Bush's Liaison to Religious Right Is Hardcore Culture Warrior
In 2008, Senator John McCain's campaign recognized that he needed to shore up his credentials with the Religious Right, which was skeptical about his......
By Bill Berkowitz (3 comments)
American ISIS: Christian Reconstructionists And `Biblical Law' In America
Every now and then, while scanning the day's news, I come across a headline that's hard to believe.Like this one: "California lawyer proposes ballot......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)

Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.