Vatican Orders Investigation into Bishop Oscar Cantu
Catholic officials in Rome have ordered an investigation into a San Jose bishop over his handling of cases of clergy sexual abuse. We are glad that an internal investigation is underway and we hope any evidence of wrongdoing will be turned over to law enforcement so that an independent probe can take place as well.
This investigation reportedly concerns Bishop Cantu’s actions while he oversaw the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico. While no specifics regarding the impetus for the investigation have been released, we believe that the inquiry is most likely related to hiding information about clergy abusers from the public and allowing men who had been accused of abuse – such as Fr. Roderick Nichols – to continue working despite allegations.
"We suspect that Las Cruces underreported the extent of clergy abuse in their diocese on Bishop Cantu's watch,” said Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer. “Keeping people in the dark is part of the playbook bishops use worldwide, and, if true, we have no doubt Bishop Cantu is continuing this behavior in San Jose as well. The losers here are victims and children."
The list of “credibly accused” clergy released by Bishop Cantu in Las Cruces grew by 14 in the year after he left when Las Cruces church officials added the names of 13 religious order priests and one lay teacher that had previously been excluded. Attempts at sanitizing and hair-splitting like this only serves to keep parents and parish communities in the dark and helps ensure that dangerous abusers stay hidden and can potentially hurt others.
“Any leader who splits hairs like this is a danger to children,” said McNevin. “Protecting the reputation of the Church over the safety and wellbeing of children and the vulnerable is something that must be punished harshly, especially in the wake of the McCarrick Report. Too many men have lied in the past to protect their brother clergyman and the assets of the Catholic Church, and that has been to the detriment of children nationwide.”
(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)