IL -- Chicago archbishop lets suspended priest work again
For Immediate release: Friday, August 19, 2016
Statement by David Clohessy, Director, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) 314 566 9790, [email protected])
Chicago's archbishop is letting a priest he suspended for sexual misconduct quietly go back to work in another state. That's wrong and reckless.
Archbishop Blase Cupich is allowing Fr. Marco Mercado to resume priestly functions in San Antonio Texas, under an archbishop there who was once a bishop in Chicago. Just last year, Cupich stopped Fr. Mercado from working in the Chicago archdiocese because of "an inappropriate adult relationship."
Cupich is doing what bishops have done for decades: splitting hairs and making excuses instead of protecting parishioners. He's pretending to be powerless instead of acting with courage. He's shrugging his shoulders when he should be aggressively speaking out.
When Cupich ousted Fr. Mercado, archdiocesan officials did NOT say “an allegedly inappropriate relationship.” http://www.archchicago.org/
Adults have a simple choice: we can make it easier or harder for victims of sexual violence and manipulation to speak up. Cupich is making it harder. We can also back the often-powerful accused or the usually-powerless accuser. Cupich, by essentially doing nothing, is backing the powerful.
Somewhere in Cupich's archdiocese is a fifteen-year-old girl who’s being molested right now by her step dad or teacher or minister. She’s considering reporting the abuser. But he tells her “If you speak up, no one will believe you.”
Then, she hears about Cupich letting a publicly accused priest work elsewhere. She thinks “My perpetrator’s probably right. There’s no sense telling anyone. No one will believe me.”
Is that what Cupich wants – to intimidate and depress victims of sexual violence and manipulation into staying silent? How will Cupich feel and act if Fr. Mercado hurts a parishioner in Texas?
If Fr. Mercado met a non-Catholic and was honest about his status as a priest, that’s one thing. But usually, these “relationships” involving priests are “inappropriate” because they involve Catholics who have been raised since birth to respect, revere, trust and obey priests, who, according to church teachings, can get a person into heaven by forgiving sins. That’s an inherently unequal relationship, and one that invites abuse and manipulation.
But regardless of the particulars of Fr. Mercado’s wrongdoing, it’s wrong for Cupich to let an alleged wrongdoer keep working for the church knowing that this that will deter other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from stepping forward.
If you have any information or suspicions about Fr. Mercado, please speak up now. It’s possible he has done more than “inappropriate” actions. He may have done illegal acts too. And there may be several people who have been manipulated and hurt by a cleric who claims to be safe and celibate.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. 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)