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Admitted Abusive Ex-New Mexico Bishop Says Mass In Alaska
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
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests