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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Clergy sex victims blast new Austin Catholic bishop
Statement by Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688)
We’re disappointed that Rome has promoted a Houston auxiliary bishop to head the Austin diocese. Bishop Vasquez’ record with clergy sex abuse and cover up cases is very troubling.
As a high ranking official in the Houston archdiocese, Vasquez stayed silent and did nothing in each of these instances:
- He did nothing when clergy sex abuse victims repeatedly urged he and his Houston colleagues to post on the archdiocesan website the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused pedophile priests. (Roughly 20 Catholic dioceses have done this. Houston does not.)
- He did nothing when, in November 2007, a victim reported having been sexually abused by Fr. Stephen Horn between 1989 and 1993. Houston church officials found him credible and suspended Horn. However, they kept the allegation and their determination secret from parishioners, police and the public for two months, despite US bishops’ repeated pledges to act quickly and openly with credibly sex abuse allegations. Finally, two months later, Houston officials disclosed their action. (The delay gave Horn, a credibly accused molester, ample opportunity to fabricate alibis, destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, or even flee the country, as some pedophile priests have done.)
- Weeks later, he did nothing. SNAP wrote Houston church officials, urging them to explain and apologize for their secrecy. SNAP urged them to visit parishes where Horn worked and emphatically beg victims and witnesses to come forward, get help and call the police. Houston church officials rebuffed our requests.
- He did nothing when, several years ago, we urged he and his colleagues to warn Houston citizens and Catholics about a notorious, convicted serial child molesting cleric, Fr. Lane Fontenot, who was discovered living and working in Houston.
- He did nothing when, in 2007, the Houston Archdiocesan officials were “sued by four victims of an admitted child-molesting seminarian whom the Archdiocese allegedly spirited back to his native Colombia, instead of alerting the police.”
Some may claim that Vasquez was powerless in these cases because Cardinal Daniel DiNardo was actually the head of Houston’s church. That’s nonsense. Every church employee has the duty to speak out, even above the wishes of his or her boss, when wrongdoing happens, especially wrongdoing that is egregious, potentially criminal and affects vulnerable children or wounded adults. (In Dallas, for instance, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Gallante openly contradicted his boss, Bishop Charles Grahmann in a child sex abuse case.)
Keep in mind too that during his long history as a priest and key church official, SNAP members have seen Vasquez take no noteworthy or positive steps regarding the on-going child sex abuse and cover up crisis that might distinguish himself from his largely corrupt colleagues and show a real concern for vulnerable kids, wounded adults or betrayed Catholics.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 21 years and have more than 9,000 members across the country. 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)
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests