December 18, 2004
Dear Cardinal Mahony:
Because you were questioned about them in a newly-released trial deposition, last week for the first time, the names of two potentially predatory California Catholic priests were disclosed publicly. Now, it is your duty to aggressively reach out to anyone who may have witnessed or experienced molestation by the two clerics.
It's especially important because the two, according to media reports, are now living in Mexico and could well be molesting kids even today.
In the 1980s, you dealt with Fr. Antonio Munoz and Fr. Antonio Camacho. Both were accused of sexually assaulting minors. Until recently, you claim to have "forgotten" about them.
Regardless of your memory problems or management failures in Stockton, you now have an obligation to reach out to others who may have been hurt by these two men.
It is not our intention to focus now on what you did or didn't do then. Rather, we want to urge you to do what you can today to ameliorate the harm your inaction and secrecy caused already and reduce the risk your inaction and secrecy causes even now.
Because of your inaction and secrecy regarding these potentially dangerous men, apparently no one has filed criminal or civil charges against them. They have not, until last week, ever been publicly exposed as possible child molesters. Therefore, they walk free today, while anyone they've hurt are likely still trapped in silence, shame and self-blame.
In light of this, we respectfully ask that you:
- put notices in all your church bulletins, your archdiocesan newspaper, and on your archdiocesan web sites encouraging victims to contact law enforcement and to seek therapy.
- prod your colleague in Stockton to do likewise.
- personally visit each parish where the alleged abusers worked, and make strong personal appeals to witnesses and victims to come forward.
The goal is simple: to help ensure that those already wounded can heal and that those still at risk can be protected.
The fact that these potentially dangerous men are now presumably around even more vulnerable children should weigh heavily on your conscience. Had you done the right thing years ago, kids might be safer today, these two priests might be behind bars, and their victims might be far down the road to recovery. You must take courageous, prompt steps now to try and undo some of the pain your earlier secrecy and inaction has no doubt caused and the risk your secrecy and inaction still causes.
We suspect, Cardinal, that you will be tempted to split hairs and remind us that Bishop Blaire now heads the Stockton Diocese and that any outreach to possible victims there is his responsibility.
At the same time, however, you realize that you are the metropolitan bishop over California. You realize that anyone they may have hurt in Stockton is ultimately your moral responsibility. And you realize that no matter what Bishop Blaire does or doesn't do, you can take steps in your own archdiocese with your own resources to help reach victims. (This might be a less-than-ideal option. Still some outreach is better than none at all.)
We look forward to hearing from you. As the New Year approaches, we hope you will break from the failed policies of the past and walk a new path toward genuinely healing current wounds and effectively preventing future wounds by abusive clergy.
David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP National Director (314) 566 9790
Mary Grant of Long Beach, SNAP Southwest Regional Director (626) 419-2930 cell
Steven Sanchez of Glendale, SNAP Los Angeles Director (818) 262-6540 cell
Lee Bashforth, SNAP Leader (949) 735-8347 cell