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  Victim Advocacy Group Pushes Religious Orders to Return Accused Priests to United States

Associated Press
April 15, 2005

Advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse pressed a religious order in Rome on Friday to send one of its priests back to the United States to face child molestation charges.

Three leaders of the U.S.-based group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests walked from their hotel to the Salvatorian headquarters, just yards from St. Peter's Square, to deliver a letter saying the order should expel the Rev. Joseph Henn, who is wanted in Arizona on child molestation charges.

"The victims are not asking for anything more than their day in court," said Barbara Blaine, the group's founder, who has spent the past week in Rome to highlight the problem of abuse ahead of the papal election. The conclave is set to begin Monday.

A man who identified himself as a Salvatorian priest met Blaine at the door of the order's office. When he protested that news cameras were filming their conversation, she offered to speak with him privately, but he laughed and said no. He promised to give the network's letter to the head of the religious order, then went back inside. "I'm not authorized to do anything," he said.

No one answered the phone at the religious order later Friday.

Henn, who had worked in the Diocese of Phoenix, was indicted on child molestation charges in 2003 in Arizona's Maricopa County. Soon after, County Attorney Rick Romley sent a letter to the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, asking that church officials order Henn to surrender. Romley said the letter was returned with a note saying the addressee refused the package.

Last year, in a written statement to the Dallas Morning News, Salvatorian officials said they had told Henn to return and face authorities, but he would not.

Also Friday, Blaine went to the offices of the Xavier Missionary Fathers order and delivered a letter asking their leader to send the Rev. James Tully back to Milwaukee to face allegations he molested boys while working there. Tully did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Tully was moved to Rome more than two years ago, about a month after he was accused of inappropriately touching a boy several decades earlier. Tully had pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct in 1992 for giving alcohol to three boys and grabbing one of them.

The Survivors Network claims 5,600 members and has spent more than a decade pressing U.S. bishops to acknowledge the scope of abuse in dioceses.

On Friday, Blaine released names of five cardinals mentioned as possible candidates for pope who the network said would be "morally unacceptable" - because they had made statements that Blaine said minimized the abuse problem or did not make the issue a priority.

Among them were Sodano and Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who in 2002 said U.S. media coverage of the abuse crisis was anti-Catholic and reminded him of "Stalin and Hitler."

The others on the list were Mexican Cardinal Norberta Rivera Carrera, Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos and Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa. The cardinals could not be reached for comment because they halted media interviews as they prepared for the conclave.

 
 

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