Vatican taps Seattle archbishop for reform effort, SNAP responds

Today the Vatican has announced a new “reform effort,” coming in the form of the renewal of the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR). The Vatican has tapped Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain to lead this effort. We argue that Archbishop Sartain is a poor choice.

Before coming to Seattle, Sartain was the bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, IL, where he had a terrible record on clergy sex abuse.

In one especially egregious case, Sartain hid allegations against two Joliet priests for five months, and only disclosed the allegations and suspended the priests after SNAP publicly “outed” them. Months after the priests were suspended, Sartain kept silent on their fate and refused to disclose to his parishioners and the public the results of the investigation.

He also ordained Fr. Alejandro Flores despite Flores having been caught with young porn. Yet barely six months after he was ordained, Flores was accused by parents of molesting their son for five years, dating back to when Flores was in seminary. Flores was later found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison.

Sartain ignored the obvious warning signs that were present while Flores was in seminary. Compounding the issue, Sartain claimed to be keeping a close watch on Flores, yet the priest was able to attempt suicide after being told of the allegations against him.

These actions were a direct defiance of the official USCCB abuse policy that says accused clergy are to be suspended promptly. Now, that same organization he defied is honoring him again.

If the USCCB wants to maintain an image of authority and respect, they should choose a different bishop to head this panel as opposed to one who has defied them repeatedly. A bishop like Bishop John Quinn of Winona or Bishop Peter Christensen, both of whom have acted responsibly in terms of recent child sex abuse cases, would be much better picks.


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