Archbishop Cordileone Conducts Exorcism to Drive Out Evil, but Refuses to Act to Drive Out Clergy Abuse
The Archbishop of San Francisco recently performed an exorcism at an historic California mission where a statue representing Saint Junipero Serra was toppled during a protest in support of indigenous people.
Archbishop Cordileone’s spokesperson said that “the idea is that there is evil present, either during the event or because of that event, so he’s driving that away with prayer.” Yet while the Archbishop conducts rituals aimed at driving away evil, he refuses to take simple, straightforward steps that can combat a different kind of evil.
According to the Marin Independent Journal, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said: “This kind of behavior (the protest) has no place in civilized society”. He went on to say: "that such incidents should not be treated as small property crimes”. To be clear, SNAP does not support vandalism nor trespassing on private property. We also can acknowledge the frustration that Archbishop Cordileone is feeling over this situation. At the same time, however, we feel the archbishop’s outrage is outsized and misplaced.
If the archbishop can perform an exorcism over a perception of his that “evil” was visited upon a sacred place by protesters, then we believe some similar ritual should be performed wherever a priest sexually abused a child. This is another clear kind of evil that has affected the entirety of Archbishop Cordileone’s diocese, yet he is one of only a handful of prelates in the country who have refused to be transparent about the scope of clergy abuse in his diocese and refuses to lift a finger to inform parents and parishioners about dangerous abusers living within their communities. That Archbishop Cordileone can conduct an extensive ritual on behalf of a statute but stays silent and idle on the issue of clergy abuse is a clear mishandling of priorities.
It is a fact that rape and other forms of sexual abuse have occurred on Catholic properties – churches, schools, rectories, seminaries and more. And despite Archbishop Cordileone’s refusal to produce a list of abusive priests, we are confident that their number is in the hundreds, some of whom are alive and still dangerous.
We call on Archbishop Cordileone to act now to protect children and help victims heal. He should immediately publish a list of accused priests, nuns, staffers and more, as well as inventory the crimes, visit every church where children or the vulnerable were molested and raped, and urge silent victims to come forward.
The least he can do is offer these victims the same solace he attempts to offer to Junipero Serra, a long-dead priest.
(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)