SNAP applauds a courageous Catholic survivor, demands that her abuser be included on Diocesan lists
Along with three other survivors, Rose Wiseman accused Fr. Joaquin Resma of child sexual abuse in a lawsuit. That case was settled out of court, but another one has recently been filed alleging abuse by the priest. Rose's parish, Our Lady of Health in Las Cruces, New Mexico, belonged to the Diocese of El Paso at the time, but became a part of the Diocese of Las Cruces in 1982. Fr. Resma is not included on the lists of "credibly accused" clergy from either Diocese.
We know that at least five survivors have now gone public with accusations against Fr. Resma. Others may have reported to Catholic officials, or may still be suffering alone and in silence. We also know that false allegations of child sexual abuse are extremely rare, and multiple false allegations are even rarer. We stand with the victims. How many survivors does it take to make an allegation against a cleric "credible?" We demand that both the Diocese of El Paso and the Diocese Las Cruces place the name Fr. Resma, who is now deceased, on their list of "credibly accused" clergy.
It is disheartening and disingenuous for Diocesan leaders, no doubt reaching for reputation life rafts, to say, "we can’t list that man until a lawsuit is resolved" or to argue over which Diocese should include his name. To us, this is both prolonging the victim’s pain and shedding even more doubt on the Church's commitment to true transparency.
It is validating for survivors to see their perpetrator named and acknowledged by the Church. It also encourages others to find the same strength Rose has found to come forward. As this brave survivor told the Las Cruces Sun-News, "This will provide some closure. That's really all I've wanted — for the church to acknowledge that this happened. And I hope that other victims will come forward. I know there are many more, and you're not alone."
Rose was only 7 when Fr. Resma, a new priest from the Philippines, arrived at Our Lady of Health. The clergyman was noted for engaging children with his magic tricks. Rose also describes other classic grooming techniques used by abusive clerics, such as taking children out for dinner or to play tennis. Fr. Resma was even so daring as to host sleepovers for girls in the parish rectory. Although the priest had already begun to sexually abuse Rose, it was on one of these sleepovers that she was raped at age 10.
Our hearts go out to Rose and any other victims of Fr. Resma. We hope that her story does indeed encourage those who may have fallen prey to this priest or any others to come forward and make a report directly to law enforcement.