Colville tribal citizen carrying abuse issues to pope’s doorstep

The Yakima Herald Republic reports today that a Colville Tribal citizen, Clara Vargas, will tell her story of childhood sexual abuse before the Italian Parliament.

She is traveling to Rome as part of a crusade by abuse victims to pressure the Vatican into taking more responsibility for the child sex abuse scandal that is closing in on the church and Pope Benedict XVI.

Putting pressure on elected officials is a way to force the Pope to take responsibility, said Vargas, who was a student at St. Mary’s Mission near Omak from second through eighth grade.

She and several Yakama tribal citizens are part of a lawsuit filed two years ago in U.S. District Court against the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, which operated St. Mary’s in Okanogan County.

The case was dismissed because the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus filed for bankruptcy, but other claimants have recently won settlements from bankruptcy court, including one for 16 claimants worth $4.8 million.

The trip is the brainchild of the Rev. Kevin Annett, a Canadian minister who has championed the cause of native peoples harmed in Catholic boarding schools.

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