Archdiocese of Santa Fe Protects Itself at the Expense of Survivors with Bankruptcy Move
As the AP points out, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees and lawyers so their cry of poverty rings hollow. This is only exacerbated by the fact that much of those fees were racked up fighting against survivors in civil court, so it’s hard to see how the move to file for bankruptcy puts survivors first, as Archbishop John Wester has claimed.
Actions speak louder than words, and given the way that bankruptcies have been handled by other dioceses, we expect the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s actions to mirror those seen in places like Milwaukee, where then-Bishop Dolan transferred more than $50 million to a cemetery fund in order to keep the assets hidden, or in St. Paul – Minneapolis, where church officials fought to use absurdly low valuations on church property.
Another reason that bankruptcy court can prove to be a good move for the church but bad for survivors is that settlements provided through bankruptcy court typically allow church officials to keep disclosures of abuse in house. Without having to report these allegations to the police or otherwise making them public, a full accounting of the number of abusers and who may have concealed or ignored those crimes would stay hidden.
Despite public rhetoric to the contrary, it is hard to see how these moves are designed to do anything but safeguard church secrets and assets and minimize further knowledge of the clergy sex abuse scandal in New Mexico. We hope Catholics, citizens and judges take ever more skeptical views of Catholic bankruptcy claims and we hope that survivors continue to fight for their day in civil court, not bankruptcy court.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
SNAP will be Representing Clergy Abuse Survivors in Rome!
We are taking the fight to Rome and are standing up for all survivors on a world stage! From February 19-25, Board President Tim Lennon, Seattle Leader Mary Dispenza, Los Angeles Leader Esther Hatfield Miller and Austin Leader Carol Midboe will be traveling to Rome for Pope Francis' Papal Abuse Summit.
If you are a member of the media and looking to get in touch with these survivors while in Rome, click here for our media advisory and contact information. If you are interested in connecting with a survivor in the US from your area of coverage, please contact one of the SNAP leaders in the US listed below:
- East Coast/DC: Becky Ianni (SNAPvirginia@cox.net, 703-801-6044)
- Midwest/Chicago: Zach Hiner (firstname.lastname@example.org, 517-974-9009)
- Midwest/St. Louis: David Clohessy (email@example.com, 314314-566-9790)
- West Coast / San Francisco: Melanie Sakoda (firstname.lastname@example.org, 925-708-6175)
If you are looking to help spread the word about the importance of this summit and for survivors to be heard, add your voice to the conversation on social media using the hashtag #PBC2019. Be sure to follow SNAP on twitter and Facebook and share our posts, add your comments, and let the world know that we are watching!Learn More