For immediate release: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A controversial Catholic official who once compared media coverage of clergy sex scandals to “Stalin and Hitler” will speak today in Los Angeles at a Catholic Religious Education Congress.
He's Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez-Maradiaga, one of Pope Francis' top hand-picked advisors. In 2002, he claimed that The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe as ''protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the church,'' He also claimed that the media covered the abuse scandal with ''a fury which reminds me of the times of Diocletian and Nero and more recently, Stalin and Hitler.''
Maradiaga also opposed proposals that local bishops turn allegations of clerical sex crimes over to civil authorities for investigation and possible prosecution.
"I would be willing to go to jail before harming one of my priests ," he said. "I am a priest, a bishop."
But it's not just what Maradiaga says. His actions are even more alarming.
He repeatedly moved a known child molester, Fr. Enrique Vasquez, to various assignments around the world despite knowing about the priest's criminal behavior. He kept Fr. Vasquez in parishes until March 2004, when Fr. Vasquez fled the village of Guinope days ahead of police. Fr. Vasquez had escaped criminal prosecutions in Costa Rica in 1998 before arriving in the US and fleeing again.
Fr. Vasquez was profiled in a Dallas Morning News series (“Predator priests: Hiding in plain sight”) and was assigned to the New York Archdiocese starting in 1998. Fr. Vasquez spent time in South Carolina leading retreats for Hispanic catholics and also was assigned in Connecticut. While in the US, he spent time at a church-operated treatment facility in New Mexico.
Ever wonder why clergy child sex crimes keep happening and being hidden in the Catholic church? In part, it's because wrongdoers like Maradiaga keep getting praised and promoted, instead of being denounced and demoted.
Shame on LA Archbishop Jose Gomez for inviting such an extreme, insensitive and callous cleric into his archdiocese.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, email@example.com)