SNAP reacts to perceived posturing by the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces on the critical issue of child sexual abuse
In September of 2018, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas requested documents from all three Catholic Dioceses in the state, requiring full disclosure and transparency in cases of child sexual abuse. At the time, the Diocese of Las Cruces confirmed it had received the request and indicated that it intended to cooperate.
Now, as AG Balderas is taking credit for securing this important information, the Las Cruces Diocese is denying that it had any duty to comply with the demand. A spokesperson for the Diocese stated that "it provided the documents voluntarily out of a desire to address the abhorrent crime of sex abuse, not because of a search warrant or legal obligation."
To us, this distinction is surely a public relations move on the part of the Diocese of Las Cruces. By claiming that they provided the records of their own volition, we believe that they want to separate current administrators from the "failures from the past." Yet until the AG's report is released, we have no way of knowing if Catholic officials who covered up abuse in the past are still working within the Diocese. To add to the confusion, the Gallup Diocese declined to comment on the AG's probe because it was still an "active investigation."
Whether or not the Diocese of Las Cruces provided the records because of a legal obligation or out of a desire to address the “abhorrent crime” of sex abuse, SNAP believes that every Catholic Diocese has a moral obligation to disclose to their parishioners and the community the names of all accused perpetrators. Full disclosure would mean revealing the names of all diocesan, extern, and order priests, as well as brothers, nuns, staff and volunteers, who are alleged to have hurt children within the Diocese.
We hope that Attorney General Balderas releases his findings to the public as soon as possible. When perpetrators are named and the subsequent cover-up by Catholic officials unveiled, it validates survivors who have spoken out and reassures other victims that they are not alone and that it is safe to speak out. In our view, the only way to get a fully transparent look at these heinous crimes in Catholic New Mexico is through a robust secular investigation.
We encourage anyone who was sexually abused in New Mexico, or who has information on such crimes, to please contact local law enforcement.
(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)