Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests speaks out in Scranton

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests speak out in Scranton

SCRANTON (WOLF) -- "I buried my memories for 30 years... and when someone else stood in front of a church like I'm doing today, I thought, 'that happened to me,'" said 71-year-old Tim Lennon.

Outside the Scranton Diocese Monday he recalled what happened to him over half a century ago.

"I was abused when I was 12. At the time I didn't say anything, I froze, I didn't do anything. Now I have an opportunity to fight back."

Watching Attorney General Josh Shapiro address the world on the Pennsylvania Grand Jury's findings on sexual abuse by over 300 members of the Catholic Church, brought feelings of sadness and anger.

It was a reminder of his alleged abuse by an Iowa Bishop.

"So many of them could have been prevented if church hierarchy had done the right thing and reported these predator priests to authorities," he said.

Lennon now works with 'SNAP' - the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"Many victims of child abuse never step forward. So we want to make sure that victims who are suffering alone in the dark now have the ability to come forward, that society accepts their stories, that there's support within the community as a whole."

Monday he spoke alongside Heather Hogan-Spencer, who was raised Catholic in Wilkes-Barre and stopped practicing when she heard rumors of abuse.

The report's findings on Bishop James Timlin's allegations of dozens of cover-ups has enraged her.

"Why is there a bishop who is still able to be a member of this church, let alone be a power holder of this church, who I just read this morning, knew about priests who had viciously raped and abused children, were found credible by their people, and moved them to new dioceses and gave them a fresh crop of prey?" she said.

Specer wants everyone, Catholic and non-Catholic to read the report.

She says if she could, she'd wallpaper all nearly 1,400 pages on the outside of the church.

"I'm tired of hearing 'I'm sorry'. I'm tired of hearing prayers and penance. This is criminal. If you hurt a child, you are a criminal. If you perpetuate the abuse of children, you are a criminal. If you look the other way, you're a criminal. And I don't want to be a part of a criminal organization, and I want to see the whole thing come down."

But devout Catholic Theresa Scaccia believes there's power in prayer.

She hasn't missed a mass in 20 years, and says she feels bad for the victims and is praying for everyone involved.

"Whatever the priests do, they do. Whatever happens, happens, but I will never leave my faith, and I want everyone to know this: this is the sacrament of the holy mass that gives us graces that are unbelievable. This is where my peace lies," shared Scaccia.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro. says hundreds more survivors have come forward since the reports initial release last week.

They also have a clergy abuse hotline: 888-538-8541

SNAP says they're hoping to eliminate the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases.

Pope Francis responded to the report Monday.

When asked what he thought about it, Lennon said: "Words, words words. They're nothing without action."

Heather Hogan-Spencer was asked the same question: "Worthless," she said.

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