Priests-in-Training Fired After Reporting Grooming and Inappropriate Conduct by their Superior, SNAP Calls for Action from Archbishop Gomez
For immediate release: June 10, 2022
According to a report, six novices were dismissed from their order last summer after reporting that they had been groped, groomed, and manipulated by their superior. The fact that officials from the Catholic Church continue to punish those who report wrongdoing demonstrates that even in 2022, twenty years after the adoption of the Dallas Charter, they still do not understand how to respond in cases of sexual abuse.
An internal investigation by Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception cleared the accused master, Fr. Thomas Dome, of wrongdoing, but failed to involve any of the accusers as part of their fact-finding. We can only question what value any sort of “investigation” can have when investigators do not even bother to interview the victims themselves. Once again, Church officials demonstrate that they are incapable of investigating themselves. We hope that the California Attorney General will investigate this order himself and determine if any crimes were committed.
To us, the actions described in the report are clear-cut examples of grooming, and we believe the accusations of these six novices and applaud them for coming forward. We also believe that a more open, trauma-informed church would also have been able to recognize these signs as grooming as well. However, rather than actually learn about the realities of institutional power, coercive control, and sexual abuse, Church officials instead appear to have washed their hands of the sexual abuse scandal and consider it a thing of the past. Clearly, as this story demonstrates, Catholic children, seminarians, and parishioners remain at risk.
Based on what has been reported, we call for Fr. Rinaldo Guarisco, the man to whom these novices reported their behavior, should be removed from his position. His inability to even interview a single one of the accusers belies his ability to hear and adjudicate complaints properly. His actions, in this case, were entirely about self-preservation and the protection of the Church’s reputation at the expense of those it is meant to care for and support. Fr. Guarisco is unfit for his position.
CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), 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 more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org.)