Group Demands That Priest Face Charges in U.S.
Sexual abuse victims knocked on the door of a religious order near St. Peter’s Square on Friday seeking a priest who is wanted in the United States in connection with allegations that he molested minors.
But leaders of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests were politely told the priest was not home. Barbara Blaine, president of the group, handed the greeter a letter urging the priest’s superiors to send him back to the U.S. to face charges.
The group was looking for Father Joseph Henn of the Salvatorian fathers, who is wanted in Phoenix.
Standing at the door of the Salvatorian fathers residence, across the street from the Vatican press office, Blaine told a woman and two guards that the religious order should choose the moral course and send Henn back to the U.S. Henn was indicted in 2003 on 13 molestation charges involving three Phoenix boys. Prosecutors sought extradition after he refused to return voluntarily.
“There are victims in the United States who are waiting for their day in court,” Blaine said. “He should not be allowed to escape criminal prosecution under the protection of their Salvatorian community here in Rome.”
The charges were filed after he arrived in Rome.
The group also stopped at the door of a priest who had pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct charges for an incident involving three boys in 1992 in Milwaukee.
Letters to the priests’ superiors said: “We speak with one voice, worldwide, as the survivors of sex abuse by priests who are sexual predators operating within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church.”
Earlier, the victims support group said it listed five cardinals who it hoped would not be elected pope.
The group cited statements by the cardinals, who Blaine said either downplayed the sexual abuse crisis, blamed it on the media, sought to squelch a civil lawsuit naming the Vatican, or said they would not betray their priests.
The five listed were Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of State; Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos of Colombia and Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile.
“They have indicated, in essence, that they will protect pedophile priests and do not understand or will not take the sexual abuse crisis seriously,” the group said.
Blaine said she hoped for a pope who was compassionate, willing to listen and understand the pain and suffering of sex abuse victims and their families.