Victims’ Group Asks for Bishop Mcdonnell’s Help to Launch Apostolic Visitation on Xaverian Order

By Peggy Weber
May 14, 2010

SPRINGFIELD – William Nash and other representatives of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) delivered a letter here, May 11, to Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell seeking his help in asking the Vatican to “launch an Apostolic Visitation” on the Xaverian Missionary Fathers.

At a 2 p.m. press conference in front of the diocesan pastoral center on Elliot Street, Nash said, “the Xaverian Fathers, for half a century, have allowed three clerics in Massachusetts to abuse children. This is not acceptable.”

“Every time I thought the (abuse) problem was handled, it wasn’t,” said Nash, an Ashfield resident who said he was molested by former Xaverian priest, James Tully, in a Wisconsin seminary between 1986 and 1988.

“This past weekend, I sadly discovered that the priest who abused me, and countless others here in Massachusetts and (in) Wisconsin, also preyed upon the children of Sierra Leone where he worked as a missioner,” Nash wrote in his letter to Bishop McDonnell.

Nash said that Tully was “routinely ‘transferred’ after new allegations arose.”

An Associated Press story, published on May 8, chronicled Tully’s abuse in Africa in the 1980s, several years before Nash was abused.

He said it was the persistent attention of the media that led to the laicization of Tully a year ago.

In an interview with iobserve, Nash said that he would like the Vatican to launch an investigation that is similar to what is being done with the Legionaires of Christ. On May 3, Pope Benedict XVI named a personal delegate with authority over the Legionaries and a commission to study the order’s constitutions.

“I am concerned that this order (Xaverians) has acted recklessly,” he said.

On April 15, Nash held a press conference to call attention to Xaverian Father Mario Pezzotti, who allegedly abused a 14-year-old student in the order’s former minor seminary in Holliston, Mass. in 1959. He said Father Pezzotti was transferred to a remote area of Brazil where he worked with the Kyapo Indians and continued to have access to children.

And, in his May 11th letter, Nash names Brother Eugenio Cumerlato as an abuser who resided with the Xaverians in Massachusetts.

Nash acknowledged that none of the abusers served in the Diocese of Springfield, nor were they diocesan priests, but he came to the Springfield chancery to give the letter to Bishop McDonnell “because he is my bishop. I hope he would support me in order to protect children.”

Nash said he is, “Saddened by how this order has functioned. And I think the Vatican needs to step in.”

Another letter written by Nash and also dated May 11, was addressed to Cardinal William Levada, Prefect for the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. Nash copied the letter to Pope Benedict XVI, Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rode, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and to Msgr. Charles Sicluna, promoter of Justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

According to Nash, he tried to schedule a meeting with Cardinals Levada and Rode during a visit to Rome two years ago. “Levada never responded and Rode wrote back saying he knew nothing about the case, despite the fact that I had contacted him before this,” he said.

He told reporters that he wanted Bishop McDonnell to “pick up the hot line and contact Rome” on his behalf.

He acknowledged that “on one occasion he did contact Rome for me.” Bishop McDonnell wrote a letter on Nash’s behalf in 2008.

However, when asked if he had ever requested a personal appointment with Bishop McDonnell, Nash said no.

Diocesan spokesperson Mark Dupont said that Bishop McDonnell would “take the matter under advisement.”


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