April 14, 2005

Victims: Accused priests in Rome

Philadelphia Inquirer

By Ken Dilanian
Inquirer Staff Writer

ROME - A pair of American victims of clerical sex abuse yesterday called on church officials to stop "sheltering" accused priests who have been living near the Vatican.

At a news conference a block from St. Peter's Square, Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, cited a newspaper investigation that located, here in Catholicism's world capital, six priests accused or convicted of sex abuse in the United States.

Blaine urged church leaders to use their moral authority to persuade the men to return to face justice.

"The place where these men should be is almost anywhere except Rome," she said. "It's important that no more children be abused."

One of the clerics, the Rev. Joseph Hennes, has been indicted on child sex charges in Phoenix. In September, Hennes was found living steps from St. Peter's Square at the headquarters of the Salvatorian religious order, according to the Dallas Morning News, which has been tracking dozens of accused priests living abroad.

The Maricopa County prosecutor's office is seeking to extradite Hennes, a process that could take years. A letter sent to the Vatican's secretary of state in 2003 was sent back marked "refused by the rightful addressee," Barnett Lotstein, a special assistant county prosecutor, said yesterday.

Posted by kshaw at April 14, 2005 06:25 AM