Another Priest Arrested for Abuse in New Orleans
A priest assigned to the Archdiocese of New Orleans has been convicted of abuse-related charges. Now, Catholic officials must use every resource at their disposal to ensure that parishioners at each parish and facility where this cleric was assigned are aware of the conviction and to urge others who may have seen or suspected abuse to come forward and make a report to law enforcement.
Fr. Michael Mulenga was arrested and charged for groping a grieving woman mourning the loss of her husband early last year. Although not incardinated into the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Fr. Mulenga was working in the area after being sent there from the Diocese of Ndola, Zambia, as part of a program to bring “lukewarm” Catholics back into the fold. Given the fact that Fr. Mulenga was working with a vulnerable population of low-income seniors, we worry that there may be others who were hurt. We are glad that Archbishop Aymond suspended Fr. Mulenga when he learned of the allegations and we hope that he will publicize the conviction, particularly at Roquette Lodge where the assault occurred, so that any other victims are encouraged to come forward.
Fr. Mulenga, Fr. Patrick Wattigny and Fr. Travis Clark were all priests working in the New Orleans area who were arrested last year. Additionally, Deacon V.M. Wheeler was removed and is currently under investigation by Jefferson Parish law enforcement. Most recently, Fr. John Asare-Dankwah who is also assigned to the Archdiocese, is currently being investigated by law enforcement.
In 2020 more than two dozen active Catholic clergy or staffers were arrested around the country on abuse-related charges. We hope that parents and parishioners who read about these stories will demand answers from their Church leaders about what is being done to protect their children and other vulnerable populations.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)