|Victims' Group Brings Message to WW Church
By Michelle A. Carrier-Migliozzi
Kent County Times
November 30, 2007
WEST WARWICK — A group representing clergy sexual abuse survivors plans to bring its message to the parishioners of Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick this weekend.
The group, including clergy sexual abuse survivors, loved ones of survivors and concerned Catholics, was organized by Bishopaccountability.org, the online library documenting the crisis in the church, said Co-Director Anne Barrett Doyle.
The group will be distributing informational leaflets at the church tomorrow after the 9 a.m. Mass and before and after the 11:15 a.m. Mass, Doyle said.
Over the years, she said, only 26 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse in Rhode Island have been named in the press. Four priests who served at Sacred Heart, according to Bishopaccountability.org, have been credibly accused of molesting children. Among them, Doyle said, are the Rev. Robert A. Marcantonio, the Rev. Richard Meglio, the Rev. Edmund Micarelli and the Rev. Msgr. Anthony DeAngelis. Suits naming Marcantonio, Meglio and Micarelli were settled as part of the diocese's mass settlement with clergy sexual abuse victims, according to the Bishopaccountability.org Web site. Accusations against DeAngelis were brought after his death, Doyle said.
The main purpose of the group's effort on Sunday, according to Doyle, is to reach victims who haven't yet come forward and let them know how to take the first step toward recovery. It is also to inform parishioners and let them know how they can help by creating an environment in which victims feel safe coming forward.
There is especially an issue at Sacred Heart, Doyle said, where a full-length portrait of DeAngelis continues to hang in the church vestibule.
Dr. Ann Hagan Webb, a psychologist and director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in New England, is a former parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in West Warwick and said she still has a large extended family in the area.
She brought her accusations about DeAngelis to the diocese in 1993, after DeAngelis' death, Webb said, having only begun to recover memories of the abuse during therapy in 1992.
She went to the diocese because it had been in the newspaper that the diocese was helping people with their therapy and was trying to make things right, Webb said. She met with the person in charge of clergy sexual abuse investigations, she said.
"I did not get any pastoral response at all," Webb said. "They roadblocked paying for my therapy for a couple of years."
Close to the time the three year statute of limitations on her case was going to expire, she said, the diocese agreed to pay for her therapy but she had to sign a legal document that she would not sue for more money.
"They have actually paid for more therapy, but I have never sued," Webb said.
She has, however, been in contact with the Rev. Richard Bucci, current pastor of Sacred Heart Church, asking him to remove the portrait of DeAngelis from the church, she said.
Bucci essentially told her to take her request to the diocese, said Webb.
"It seemed like he was passing the buck and I lost my energy and said I wasn't going to go fight the diocese over that," she said. "I have lots of things that I fight all the dioceses about as the SNAP leader for New England; sometimes it's harder to do it on your own behalf. There are more pressing issues in terms of priests that are still in service and that sort of thing that I fight for."
"Father Bucci, I believe, is not correct," Doyle said. "He has the power to remove that portrait."
"We are looking to erase the insult that his [DeAngelis'] portrait gives to victims," Doyle said, an insult that is also perpetuated by the names on nearby apartment complexes.
"We will ask them [parishioners] to join us in asking the pastor to remove the portrait and the name from the nearby buildings," Doyle said.
"We know that Father Bucci is capable of doing the right thing because he has done it in the past," she said. "So we are just calling on him to do the right thing again."
She will not be at the church tomorrow, Webb said, although her husband will.
"I just can't bring myself to be out there on Sunday," Webb said. "I have a strong voice; I can feel my power and get out there and give speeches, but, when it's about yourself, a different side comes out; it's upsetting."
The group that will be there tomorrow will be asking parishioners to add their voices to the request for the portrait's removal, she said. But, more important, Webb said, they will be there to help encourage those who may have been abused but have not yet come forward to do so.
"Often, almost always, someone else comes forward and says they were abused, too," Webb said of such efforts.
There is good reason for wanting to inform local parishioners, she said.
"We know the names of 26 perpetrators out of a possible 125 in Rhode Island," Webb said. "We are anxious to find out those names. Even if they're taken out of service, they could live right next door and children could be in danger, and, because the names have never been published and they haven't been brought to trial, we don't know that."
There is something else Webb said she thinks people should be more aware of.
"Most people think that it was all altar boys, that it was like 99 percent boys and very few girls, and that simply isn't true," she said. "SNAP estimates are that at least 35 percent of people who were abused as children were girls."
No one from the Diocese of Providence could be reached for comment on this matter yesterday.
More information about Bishopaccountability.org can be found at that Web address.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.