US cardinal summonses priests to listen to abuse victims

Hundreds of Philadelphia priests listened to shocking testimony from two adults who as children had been molested by priests at a meeting on Friday called by the Philadelphia's archbishop, Cardinal Justin Rigali.

According to a Reuters report, Cardinal Rigali told the overnight hearing that learning about the abuse through the media was no substitute for hearing the victims' accounts of it firsthand.

"It's extremely important for us to hear the stories rather than simply reading words on the printed page," he said.

At the meeting, victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy described how years of exploitation led to anger, self-loathing and long-term emotional damage.

The victims were joined by a woman whose two sons were abused. All three speakers said they came from Catholic families, and that it was hard for them to report the abuse.

"There are few people who want to hear my story - it's just too hard to hear," Victoria Cubberly said, adding that she "wanted so badly to be the good little Catholic girl who was supposed to please the priests."

She described being anally raped when she was a teenager by Fr Richard D Dolan in his office while she looked up at a crucifix. "He kept repeating that I was raping God," Ms Cubberley, who was also abused by her father, said.

"How did I not know? How did I not see it?" said Grace, who was not required to give her last name and was not fully identified by the archdiocese. "I will carry these questions until I die."

The hands the priest used to consecrate wine and bread, she said, were "the same hands he used to violate my son."

The priests were riveted by the speakers, who challenged the Cardinal to offer victims more help, including financial compensation, an Associated Press report adds.

"I think everyone's going to have to absorb the impact of what they just heard," archdiocesan spokeswoman Donna Farrell said.

"We're hoping that as they witness this, they'll be able to take some action to actually help survivors," said Pat Clancy, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The session, which was broadcast live on the Internet, follows a 500-page report by Philadelphia prosecutors in August 2005 detailing decades of assaults on children by more than 50 Catholic priests. It accused the church of an "immoral" cover-up.

Defrocked American youth minister found dead

In another story, a well known former Catholic priest and youth minister, Donald Wren Kimball, who had been convicted of child molestation and later of assaulting a press photographer outside a courtroom was found dead early Friday, according to a Bay City Newswire report.

Kimball ultimately escaped serving the seven-year prison term for committing two lewd acts with a girl in the St John's rectory in Healdsburg in 1981, when the US Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the California law that was used to convict him and other sex offenders of decades-old offenses.

Kimball was acquitted of raping another underage girl at the Resurrection Church in Santa Rosa in 1977.

Kimball, a popular youth minister in the 1970s who had a radio program, was accused by other underage parishioners of sexual misconduct and was the target of civil suits.

The Santa Rosa Diocese settled one of those suits filed by a Sacramento woman for $3.3 million.

An autopsy into Kimball's death will be conducted.

Sex abuse victims confront clergy (Sunday Mail, 17/9/06)
Priests hear from sex abuse victims (Leading the Charge, 17/9/06)
Defrocked priest found dead at home (San Francisco Chronicle, 16/9/06)
Saturday News Roundup (Bay City Newsire, 16/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Philadelphia | Cardinal Rigali

Californian bishop faces prosecution over failure to report (CathNews, 29/8/06)
Indian Archbishop becomes first tribal Cardinal (CathNews, 30/9/03)

18 Sep 2006