We are not optimistic about Bishop Oscar Cantu’s promotion. Pope Benedict has appointed a number of bishops in recent years who have terrible track records on child safety.
While Bishop Cantu was a high ranking official in the diocese of San Antonio, dangerous predators have only been exposed because of the courage of victims
-- Brother Richard Suttle recently lived in San Antonio and studied at a Catholic college. Archdiocesan officials permitted this, even though, according to the Express News, Suttle “sexually abused a teen in the early 1980s in Arizona, according to a public notice from the Phoenix diocese.”
-- Father Charles H. Miller “worked at St. Mary's University for more than two decades and was let go in 2007 after his religious order found a claim that he sexually abused a teen in 1980 to be credible. In 2008, Miller was moved to Rome,” the Express News wrote in 2009. Evidently, Miller still works for the Marianists though they have since sent him to Rome.
-- Fr. Larry Hernandez had his faculties (i.e., his ability to function as a priest) suspended in early 2008 because of credible child sex abuse allegations. San Antonio Catholic officials, including Cantu, kept it quiet until March 2009.
In each of these cases, Cantu’s silence and inaction essentially endorsed secrecy and recklessness and put local Catholics and their families at risk. He could have fought these irresponsible moves, but apparently he did not. He could have spoken out publicly about them, but apparently did not.
Also during Cantu’s tenure in San Antonio, neither he nor any other Catholic official (as best we can tell) took any real steps to seek out and help victims of other child molesting clerics, or warn families about them, including
--Fr. John Fiala, who was convicted of crimes against children (one whom he forced to have sex at gunpoint),
--Brother William Mueller, who worked and now lives - unsupervised - in San Antonio and is accused of sexually assaulting dozens of boys in three states and has been quietly transferred from school to school to school after repeated, credible abuse reports surfaced, and
--Fr. John Corapi, who was suspended for allegedly sexually violating several vulnerable adult parishioners who turned to him for spiritual guidance in times of stress.
We see no evidence whatsoever that Cantu ever said or did a single thing to prevent these dangerous men from living or working in his archdiocese or having access to innocent kids or vulnerable adults.
Much of this is relatively recent. Corapi was suspended just last year. Hernandez was suspended in 2008.
Fiala worked in San Antonio from 2005-2008. Last year, he was found guilty of trying to hire a ‘hit man’ to kill one of his victims.
(All of these cases can be found in mainstream media accounts at BishopAccountability.org)
So Cantu can’t claim this all happened “long ago” when church officials allegedly “didn’t understand” abuse. In fact, most of these cases took place years after Cantu and his brother bishops adopted a national “zero tolerance” policy mandating “openness and transparency” in clergy sex cases, a policy that has repeatedly been violated, especially by San Antonio Catholic officials.
In his new post, we hope Bishop Cantu will learn post predators' names on his website (30 US bishops have done this). We hope he begins an aggressive effort to reach out to those who are still suffering because of the heinous crimes of child molesting Catholic clerics. But we are not optimistic.
We urge New Mexico citizens and Catholics to continue reporting known and suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to secular authorities, not church authorities.