The following article by Marie Coady was
published today, Feb. 4, 2005, in the Daily Times Chronicle, Woburn,
Massachusetts. The article is timely in light of the Shanley trial in MA which
is currently under jury deliberation.
Permission has been granted by the author to forward this article.
ONE EX-NUN BELIEVES SHANELY TRIAL IS TEST BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL
By Marie Coady
At the end of every e-mail ex-nun Pauline Salvucci sends winging its way across the Internet is this call to action: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
I first came in contact with Pauline Salvucci, a Sister of Divine Providence from 1961-1979, via the Voice of the Faithful message board more than 2 years ago. At the time Voice of the Faithful was a fledgling organization formed in response to the Catholic Church crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston. It was also a lone voice just beginning to rev up the volume on the church crisis. Since then that volume has reached decibels loud enough to spread its influence all over the world.
That was also just about the time that Paul Shanley was handcuffed and brought before the court to answer for unspeakable crimes. And because Salvucci had had some direct contact with Shanley between 1971 and 1977 she felt particularly vindicated by his arrest.
As she said in an interview I conducted with her back in 2002, “I had begun to see a part of Shanley that I didn't like. He and his friend Rev. Jack White were closed off, and always seemed so vague. I saw Shanley again when I lived at Warwick House in Roxbury in 1975, where Jack White was administrator. My suspicions about them were later confirmed when I read in the newspapers that White and Shanley had gone to a place in Thailand well known for a wide variety of sexual traffic, including with young children.”
For Salvucci that was the straw to break the camel’s back. Since then she has kicked her effort to right the wrongs done by the Catholic Church up a notch and formed a group called Voices of Outrage. The centerpiece of her Voices of Outrage Web site (http://www.voicesofoutrage.com) is her Campaign for Survivor Justice spearheaded by her RICO petition presented to the President of the United States and the Director of the FBI, a bold move that has made many, who otherwise support her cause, reticent to put their signature on the petition.
It is a bold step because the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) law was initiated to fight organized crime and for many Catholics, as angry as they are at the actions of the Church, it’s difficult for them to believe that the hierarchy has become a criminal enterprise.
But as Salvucci explains, “As you learn about the scope of this tragedy, ask yourself, “Where’s the Justice?” Our RICO Campaign for Survivor Justice Petition demands that the federal government open an investigation into the Roman Catholic Church in the United States and you can make a difference by just signing it.”
And so far more than 800 people have stepped boldly forward and put their signature where their heart is, with the children who have been irreparably damaged by sexual abuse. That after all is a goal everyone can stand behind.
Like Salvucci, those who have signed her RICO petition have come to agree that framing the issue by the RICO definition gets at the heart of the matter. That, as Salvucci points out “. . . the hierarchy have lied about and covered up these crimes” against children in their charge. And that, in Salvucci’s estimation, constitutes a criminal enterprise.
When I asked Salvucci why she initially launched Voices of Outrage, she explained, “I wanted to focus on the issues that the Catholic abuse scandal raise for me. Child abuse is a national and an international tragedy. The sexual abuse of kids in the United States and around the globe has got to be taken more seriously.”
And she encourages people to think globally punctuating her point with this: “Add to that the fact that war and natural disasters become a breeding ground for the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. I wanted people to be more aware of these issues, especially Roman Catholics, and I wanted to offer them a vehicle, the RICO Campaign for Survivor Justice Petition. I also wanted to highlight the fact that where there's “kiddie” porn there's sexual trafficking of kids, not just somewhere over there but here in this country as well.”
But getting people onboard has been a year long struggle by some very dedicated volunteers and in spite of contacting hundreds of organizations, sending out information packets and making phone calls, many have been frightened away by the political ramifications of supporting anything as drastic as a RICO petition.
As Salvucci explains, “The majority of those I spoke with said it was too much of a political hot potato and their boards wouldn't support the petition. Other groups — predominantly Catholic — said that they simply were not interested. Some Catholic organizations refused to talk with me. As far as individual Catholics are concerned, my sense is the majority of them, like the hierarchy, want the world to think the issue of sexual abuse has been resolved in the church. It hasn't been. Until the federal government opens an investigation into the American Catholic Church, children will continue to be abused and the cover-ups and stalling by bishops will continue.”
In light of the uphill battle she faces Pauline Salvucci fights on. She is indeed on a mission. But recently her dedication paid off when SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) agreed to join her in her battle by posting a link to her Voices of Outrage Web site and RICO Campaign for Survivor Justice petition on their Web site.
Confined now to a wheel chair as the result of a debilitating disease, Pauline Salvucci remains steadfast in her determination not to be deterred from her mission to save the children of the world from sexual abuse. She firmly believes that the battle will not be won unless the Catholic hierarchy is held accountable for their complicity in the current sexual abuse scandal.
“My mission is to help people understand that working to resolve the issue of sex abuse by priests, bishops and even nuns is going to take a concerted political effort. If the laity wants to share in the decision making in the church, they have to begin to use their voice to make things happen at the political level. The statutes of limitations have to be changed so that criminal trials can go forward. Parishioners need to report current sex crimes to the police and not the diocese. And maybe people have to be a lot less concerned with what other people in the parish think of them for taking an unpopular stand.”
Salvucci feels that if the Catholic laity will at least stay informed they will come to understand the gravity of the situation. They will also come to understand that the Church will never make things right unless their feet are held to the fire. She encourages all Catholics, whether they are true believers or merely filled with deep-seeded doubts, or fear to speak out aloud for fear of retribution or of being ostracized, that they at least keep informed.
One way to do that is to “read the National Catholic Reporter Sex Abuse Tracker (http://www.ncrnews.org/abuse/) and see what's going on in dioceses all over the country. Likewise they should read The Bishop-Accountability Web site (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/) and the Survivors First Web site (http://www.survivorsfirst.org/) “.
But for now, as she watches the Paul Shanley trial unfold, her biggest fear is that if he is found not guilty, the Church will feel they no longer have to worry that they too will be held accountable. If that happens, then evil will indeed triumph over good and good men will learn nothing.
Voices of Outrage: Where's the Justice?
Web site: http://www.voicesofoutrage.com
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke