April 11, 2006

Man looking for church justice

The Daily Iowan

By: Mason Kerns - The Daily Iowan
Issue date: 4/7/06 Section: Metro

As a 9-year-old at Holy Trinity Sacred Heart school in Dubuque, Steve Theisen said Catholic nun Sister Mary Philip, the teacher of his fourth-grade class, would frequently ask him to stay after the bell.

"At first, she said she was going to teach me how the Eskimos kiss, and she'd rub noses with me," the 54-year-old said during a Concerned Catholics of the Davenport Diocese meeting last week in Iowa City. "Later, she showed me how the Americans kiss, and then the French, waiting a few weeks in between each to see if I'd tell anybody."

As the state director for the support group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Theisen is working with groups, such as Concerned Catholics, to not only counsel clerical-abuse victims but prevent further incidents and demand accountability from the Catholic Church. Both Theisen and the Concerned Catholics expressed disillusionment with what they deem the church's opaque bureaucratic tendencies and reluctance to reveal its abusive clergy.

Theisen was one of numerous clerical-abuse advocates who at the Concerned Catholics meeting on March 31 openly decried what they labeled the church's non-forthcoming attitude regarding Bishop Lawrence Soens. Soens was accused in June 2005 of making wrongful sexual contact with a student at Iowa City Regina, where he served as principal from 1959-67.

Posted by kshaw at April 11, 2006 07:53 AM