AK - Ex-New Mexico Bishop Says Mass in Alaska
For immediate release:
Monday, Feb. 16, 2004
For more information:
David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director (314) 566-9790 cell
Mark Serrano of Leesburg VA, Board Member (703) 771 9606, 703 727 4940 cell
Barbara Blaine of Chicago, President (312) 399-4747 cell
Sex Abuse Victims Charge Archdiocese Violates National Policy
Leaders of the nation's largest support group for clergy abuse victims today expressed shock and outrage that former Albuquerque bishop Robert Sanchez, who admitted molesting 18 and 19 year old girls years ago, continues to function as a priest in Alaska.
The organization, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), intends to write to a national Catholic panel of lay people asking that the archdiocese be declared in violation of the bishops' national sex abuse policy, which allegedly prohibits anyone who has molested from working in active ministry.
In a story in the Feb. 13 edition of the Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage diocese officials admit that Sanchez "comes to the Archdiocese of Anchorage at times to assist with the Hispanic community."
According to an archdiocesan report issued last week "Archbishop Sanchez resigned as Archbishop of Santa Fe as a result of his involvement with women while he was Archbishop." SNAP disuputes this characterization, since three victims were teenagers.
The report released last Friday details allegations of sexual abuse by priests and a religious brother in anticipation of a national survey on abuse in the Roman Catholic Church scheduled for Feb. 27. CNN has apparently recieved a draft and is reporting numbers from that national survey today.
"We hope this sad and shocking disclosure prompts more victims to come forward and more Catholics to stay vigilant," said Barbara Blaine of Chicago, SNAP's founder and president. "Although we have received no such reports thus far, we fear that Sanchez may have abused again in Alaska. If anyone in Alaska has experienced, witnessed or suspects abuse by Sanchez or any church leader, we beg them to contact law enforcement."
"Just over a year ago, the head of the US bishops conference promised 'Bishops will not tolerate even one act of sexual abuse of a minor. There will be severe consequences for any act of sexual abuse. No free pass. No second chances. No free strike. An abuser. . . can indeed be forgiven for his sins. He just doesn't get a second chance to do it again. Period.'
"Sadly, once again, the solemn promises of Catholic church leaders have been violated and youngsters have been put at risk," said SNAP national director David Clohessy of St. Louis. "You can parse words and split hairs all day long about when a teenaged girl is an adult. But the simple truth is that Sanchez abused his power and admitted sexually exploiting young, vulnerable, trusting devout teens. Further, he moved known and suspcted molesters from parish to parish. He should not be a priest, period."
Clohessy said SNAP would soon write to Kathleen McChesney of the Office of Youth Protection in Washington DC complaining about Sanchez' activities and urging that Anchorage's archbishop be censured for allowing Sanchez to function in his diocese.
--------------------Archdiocese reveals details of sex-abuse allegations
Some priests were banned from ministry; 2 fathered children
Anchorage Daily News
(Published: February 13, 2004)
The Archdiocese of Anchorage released a report Friday morning with details of allegations of sexual abuse by priests and a religious brother in anticipation of a national study on abuse in the Roman Catholic Church set for release in two weeks.
The report released Friday revealed that some accused priests were not allowed to return to the ministry even after lengthy treatment, two fathered children and another was involved with a 17-year-old girl.
A three-person commission formed by Archbishop Roger Schwietz last year went through records of 84 priests and revealed in October that 16 priests had allegations against them, seven of them against children. Archdiocesan officials have since gone through records of more than 200 additional priests but found no new allegations, according to the new report.
Schwietz said in a written statement that the archdiocese has sent the names of three priests accused of sexually abusing children in Alaska to the national survey. The other four accused of child molestation were visiting Anchorage and are being reported by their home dioceses, said the Rev. Donald Bramble, Anchorage's vicar general.
Only a few, including Monsignor Francis Murphy, the Rev. Timothy Crowley and the former archbishop of Santa Fe, were named in the report.
"We have used names of perpetrators in the report only when those names have otherwise been made public," Schwietz said. "The motivation in doing this is to protect victims from additional suffering. No cases of sexual abuse of minors involves clergy who are currently serving in the Archdiocese of Anchorage."