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


Exile Excitement: Some Fundamentalists Seek Escape From Decadent Society
OK, now we've done it. Those of us who advocate things like separation of church and state, secular government, LGBT rights and self-determination when......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Controversy Over White Nationalist GOP Candidate Still White Hot
The 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president Michael Peroutka's current race for County Council in Maryland -- as a Republican -- it is still......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Race, Republicans and the Religious Right
The Republicans have a race problem, and by this I don't just mean that racial minorities don't much vote for them, particularly in the......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Rev. William Barber on Religious/Political Inclusiveness
A few weeks ago, I posted about the extraordinary oration of Rev. William Barber at Netroots Nation. (A transcript of the speech is now......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Short Takes
Salon.com  Columnist Thomas Frank considers how snark can cut more than one way. What does it mean when being "on the left" is defined......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
David Brat as a "Libertarian Catholic" is an Oxymoron
David Brat, the Tea Party Young Turk who recently shocked the GOP establishment with his primary win over Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is reportedly,......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
Kountze Cheerleaders Take on the Courts
The entire town of Kountze, Texas is in a frenzy with business banners, suv window paintings and legal action supporting their local cheerleaders. The......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
A Talk to Action Anthology on Neo-Confederacy, Nullification and Secession (Updated)
A number of posts over the past year have addressed the growing Neo-Confederate movement, the advocacy of nullification of federal laws, and even the......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Good Incentives Gone Awry: Kentucky Officials Are Adamant About Propping Up The 'Ark Park'
I've lived in the Washington, D.C., suburbs since 1986, so when it comes to museums, I am spoiled. Just a short subway ride away......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
White Hot Controversy for a White Nationalist GOP Candidate
The controversy over Michael Peroutka's theocratic, white nationalist candidacy for county council, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland -- has gotten white hot after he......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Not Just Whistling 'Dixie': Peroutka Stands Up for Southern Secession - UPDATED x2!
Cross-posted from The Huffington Post. Michael Peroutka, the Republican candidate for Anne Arundel County Council, stood up for secession and the white nationalist League......
By jhutson (1 comment)
Short Takes
Pando Daily:  Journalist Mark Ames has published a must-read story about how Reason,the flagship magazine of libertarianism, published a special issue in 1976 promoting......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
GOP Leader Questions Candidate About Hate Group That Advocates Death Squads - Updated
Cross-posted from The Huffington Post. The head of Maryland's Republican Party, Joe Cluster, has called local candidate Michael Peroutka to the woodshed for a......
By jhutson (3 comments)
Short Takes
Bilgrimage:  Bill Lindsey discusses "an outstanding series of articles" by Frank Cocozzelli here at Talk to Action, originally posted in 2007, about the close......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
An Opus Focus on SCOTUS? (Part 1)
In light of the recent US Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby -- which exempts, closely held corporations that invoke "sincerely held......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)

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 (1 comment)
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 (3 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 (2 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 (1 comment)
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 (1 comment)
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 (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
A Wiccan Witch In Salem
Since it's only two weeks from Halloween, I made my usual foray into Christian Right Country to find out what their plans are for this Halloween. I don't know where to be sad or......
irishwitch (0 comments)

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.