TX--Archbishop lets suspended priest work again
For immediate release, Friday, August 19, 2016
San Antonio's archbishop is letting a priest who was suspended for sexual misconduct quietly work in his archdiocese. He should reverse this reckless decision.
Last year, Fr. Marco Mercado was stopped from working in the Chicago archdiocese because of "an inappropriate adult relationship." These are the words used by Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich. Note he didn't say "ALLEGED relationship." Nor did he say "one time incident." http://www.archchicago.org/
This was, we strongly suspect, a repeated series of selfish, hurtful violations of a vulnerable young person, one who was likely taught since birth to revere and trust priests. And every sexual contact between a Catholic cleric and a Catholic parishioner is, by definition, improper and unhealthy, in part because of the huge power differential between the two.
Cupich and San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller are doing what bishops have done for decades: splitting hairs and making excuses instead of protecting parishioners.
García-Siller, who was a bishop in Chicago, is putting his flock in harm's way. He is protecting a colleague's career and pretending to have "investigated" when we strongly suspect he hasn't even contacted Fr. Mercado's victim.
Cupich pretending to be powerless instead of acting with courage. He's shrugging his shoulders when he should be aggressively speaking out.
Adults have a simple choice: we can make it easier or harder for victims of sexual violence and manipulation to speak up. Cupich and Garcia-Siller are making it harder. We can back the often-powerful accused or the usually-powerless accuser. Cupich, by essentially doing nothing, is backing the powerful. Garcia-Siller, by putting Fr. Mercado on the job, is actively backing with a powerful accused wrongdoer over one or more of his wounded victims.
Somewhere in Garcia-Siller'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 her archbishop letting a publicly accused priest work in San Antonio. She thinks “My perpetrator’s probably right. There’s no sense telling anyone. No one will believe me.”
Is that what Garcia-Siller want – to intimidate and depress victims of sexual violence and manipulation into staying silent? How will Garcia-Siller 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 and Garcia-Siller 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 is the world’s oldest and largest support group for sexual abuse victims. Despite the word “priest” in its name, the group has members who suffered harm in all types of institutional settings, including schools, scouting and the military. Their website is SNAPnetwork.org.