Diocese of Sacramento once again quietly removes priest for 'inappropriate conduct.' SNAP Responds

(For Immediate Release May 22, 2023) 

On May 19th, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento once again quietly announced on its website the removal of a cleric for “inappropriate conduct.” Bishop Jaime Soto said that  Fr. Sijo Chirayath was found to have “violated diocesan policy regarding clergy conduct” with an adult man.  The priest no longer has an assignment nor does he have faculties in the Diocese, and he was asked to return to his order, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI) in India, on Friday.

We applaud the Diocese for removing Fr. Chirayath and for posting this information on its website. We hope that the parents of students at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, where the priest worked as a chaplain, was immediately alerted when the accusations were first received on April 26th, and have now been apprised of the outcome of the investigation.

However, we notice that the priest’s name does not appear on Sacramento’s list of accused clerics.  We believe that Fr. Chirayath, along with Fr. Renerio Sabuga, Jr. (Fr. Jong)Fr. Percy Singco,  Deacon James Burkett, and any other cleric who sexually abused adults over the age of 25 should be added to the Diocesan list. Fr. Chirayath brings the number of accused clerics on SNAP’s List for the Diocese of Sacramento to 104, although only 65 of those names appear on the Diocesan List. 

Sacramento area SNAP Leader and survivor Dorothy Small observed, “My abuser, Fr. Sabuga returned to ministry in his country. It isn’t an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with an adult but the abuse of spiritual power and authority where there isn’t equal power.” Dorothy continued, “The Vatican took a position to criminalize the abuse of adults, but the names of those 'credibly accused’ of abusing men and women over age 25 still haven’t made it to Bishop Soto’s list.”

We again recommend that the Bishop include those clerics who abuse older adults to his list of accused. It is not uncommon for those who are "inappropriate" with adults to exhibit the same behavior with children. We also firmly believe that any prelate who truly wants to help survivors heal and to protect all of his spiritual children would do nothing less. This is particularly true when these men come from another country and may be returned to ministry there, even if they are unable to work in the Sacramento Diocese. 

CONTACT: Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento Area Leader, ([email protected], 530-908-3676 ), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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