Catholic Officials in New Mexico Sue over SBA Funding, SNAP Responds
The largest Catholic diocese in New Mexico is suing the federal government over the disbursement process for SBA funds. The archdiocese has been refused help because they initiated bankruptcy proceedings prior to their request for assistance. We find it ironic that an institution that uses technicalities at every turn is upset that the law is not working in their favor this time.
If Archbishop John Wester wants a taxpayer-funded bailout, we believe that he and his institution should be required to immediately dismiss their claims of bankruptcy and re-enter good faith negotiations with the hundreds of victims who have sued them over cases of clergy sexual abuse. We also believe that it was their actions and secrecy, not COVID-19, that has left the archdiocese in a place of distrust and financial challenge. Their contributions were plummeting well before this crisis because of how they have handled cases of clergy sexual abuse, and this duplicity was uncovered well before COVID-19 devastated New Mexico.
For years, Catholic officials have used bankruptcy filings to protect their secrets, prevent justice and thwart healing. These disingenuous actions keep information about abusers and their enablers hidden, endangering more children today and into the future.
We hope that the government will not cave to this lawsuit. However, if a lifeline is provided then we believe the SBA should attach conditions that insist on complete, audited disclosure of child sex abuse and cover up in the archdiocese. If the government can impose an equity sharing arrangement on the airline industry, then it can also impose transparency rules here. In this way, community members, advocates, donors and law enforcement can know how the bailout money is being used. If it is being used to fund lawyers opposing survivors, or to enable the hiding of assets that legitimately should be used to compensate victims, our elected representatives should move aggressively and immediately to prevent such expenditures.
(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)