Group Takes Case to Church

By Melissa Vargas
Fort Worth Star-Telegram [North Richland Hills TX]
December 3, 2006

A neon green poster reading "Actions protect kids, not words" greeted parishioners gathering Saturday for a 5 p.m. Mass at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in North Richland Hills.

Mary Grant and Kristopher Galland of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, stood outside the church handing out pink fliers. They were later told by the parish priest, the Rev. Tim Thompson, to leave.

The national victims' group has criticized Thompson and former leaders of the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese over their handling of information about the Rev. Philip Magaldi, who was accused of sexual abuse of a minor in the late 1990s.

Mary Grant of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests carries a stack of fliers at the church Saturday.
Photo by The Star-Telegram / Stewart F. House

Thompson "never once picked up the phone" to call police about what he knew, said Grant, SNAP's western regional director. She flew in from California to help hand out the fliers with Galland, who leads the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter.

The group is angered over reports that Thompson learned in 2001 of possible "pedophilic material" on Magaldi's personal computer but didn't report it to police.

Thompson said last week that he thought he had acted appropriately by informing Bishop Joseph P. Delaney of what he had heard.

SNAP has asked that Thompson be disciplined by Bishop Kevin Vann, Delaney's successor. On Friday, Vann said that while he won't reprimand Thompson, he would remind the cleric of his duty to report allegations to police.

Grant and Galland said they were at the church Saturday to ask anyone who had been abused by a priest to go to the authorities.

"We believe there might be a child or adult survivor in the pew right now that is too afraid to come forward," Grant said.

Magaldi, who has said he is innocent, served at St. John the Apostle from 1993 to 1998. He was removed from ministry in 1999 after a second accusation of sexual abuse of minors.

Parishioners began to file into the church about 4:30 p.m., and many shooed the fliers away.

"I don't want to see that," one woman said as she shook her head.

Thompson emerged from the church about 10 minutes later.

"I don't really think you should be on the property," he told them. "Leave now."

Grant and Galland moved onto the sidewalk and offered fliers to people arriving at church.

About 4:45 p.m. a North Richland Hills police officer rolled up, alerted to the "protesters" by someone at the church. The officer asked them to keep out of the street, took a flier and wished the protestors luck before he left.

Father Thompson drove away from the church just before Mass was scheduled to begin, and accepted a flier. Asked why he didn't want SNAP to hand out fliers, he simply smiled. "I don't want it here," he told Grant.

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