Sex Abuse Victims Call for Online Registry of Abuser Priests

Boston Herald
April 15, 2010

Bill Nash, spokesperson for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) speaks to reporters in Springfield, Mass. today following an investigation that found 30 cases of priests accused of abuse who were transferred or moved abroad.

SPRINGFIELD — An activist on behalf of clergy sex abuse victims called on the Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield today to publish a list of past abusers in the western Massachusetts diocese.

Bill Nash and other members of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests held a news conference on Thursday in response to an Associated Press story that detailed 30 cases worldwide in which priests accused of abuse were transferred or moved abroad, including one case from the Worcester area.

Nash said outside the Diocese offices that the church needs to stop abusive priests, who he called criminals, from "jetsetting across the world." The group also called on the pope to set up an international online registry of priests credibly accused of abuse.

Mark Dupont, a spokesman for Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell, said the diocese has made public credible allegations against priests and lay people.

"It certainly exceeds what any other institution does," he said.

Nash, 45, of Ashfield, Mass., said he was abused while at a Xaverian seminary in Milwaukee, Wis., when he was in his early 20s. Joe Callander, whose abuse was detailed in the AP story, said he was 14 when he was raped and otherwise abused at the now-closed Xaverian Missionary Faith High School in Holliston, Mass., in the Worcester area.

Nash said he met Callander at a Survivors Network support group meeting in Boston eight years ago.

"Yesterday, he spoke out and told the truth," he said Thursday. "He’s had a pretty difficult life. I’d say he’s relieved to speak up."

Nash, who said he went public with his allegations of abuse a few years ago, said McDonnell has in the past been helpful, and he called on him to do so again. He made public a June 26, 2008, letter he received from McDonnell saying he had written to the "appropriate authority in Rome" about his allegations of abuse.

Dupont said the priest, who was not in the Springfield diocese, was defrocked at his own request.

The AP investigation spanned 21 countries across six continents. Some of the priests escaped police investigations. Others, including former Massachusetts priest The Rev. Mario Pezzotti, had access to children in another country.

Pezzotti abused Joe Callander at Xaverian Missionary Faith High School in Holliston in 1959 when Callander was 14. The Xaverians settled the case for $175,000 in 1993, the same year Callander received a note of apology from Pezzotti.

Meanwhile, Pezzotti moved to Brazil in 1970 and lived there until 2003 before moving back to Brazil in 2008. Callander complained to church officials after seeing a picture in a Roman Catholic newsletter of Pezzotti holding Amazon Indian children.

There’s no evidence Pezzotti abused any children in Brazil.

Pope Benedict XVI broke his recent silence on the clerical abuse scandal Thursday, complaining that the church was under attack but saying that "we Christians" must repent for sins and recognize mistakes.

The main U.S. victims group immediately dismissed his comments, saying they are meaningless unless Benedict takes concrete steps to safeguard children from pedophile priest.

Nash said he approves of recent comments by the Vatican that bishops must report allegations of abuse to civil authorities. But he is skeptical about plans by the survivors network urging Roman Catholic officials to house abusive priests in treatment facilities to keep them away from children.

"They’d need a continent at this point," he said. "There’s so many out there."


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