Victims in Colorado Continue to Come Forward
According to reports, at least sixteen more victims of clergy abuse in Colorado have come forward since the special master’s report was released earlier this year. One of those survivors is sharing his story publicly in hopes it helps others.
We applaud Daniel Masias for speaking out and are confident that his courage and example will help others in Colorado who are still unsure about coming forward or seeking justice. As he says in his statement, he was not interviewed as part of the Special Master's report.
There is little doubt that the Colorado report naming only 43 priests is deficient. The most glaring hole in the report is the lack of order clerics who abused. The Capuchins, for example, have headquarters in Denver and one of their own, Archbishop Charles Chaput, previously worked as the Archbishop of Denver. He is currently the Archbishop of Philadelphia. We believe one reason no order priests are named in the report may be because of Archbishop Chaput’s outsized influence. The Capuchins from Denver, known as the Province of St. Conrad, have abusers who have hurt children all over their territory. Surely some were hurt in Colorado.
In addition, a former Pueblo Diocese priest, John Beno, was an elected state senator who was also identified as an abuser in the special master’s report. There is no doubt that this man had incredible power to suppress reporting and shape laws that would help keep perpetrators hidden.
Colorado's bishops have a long way to go before they reach true transparency. In the meantime, this lack of openness means children and the vulnerable are still in danger. An AP investigation confirmed that despite the rhetoric about dead abusers, nearly half of those listed are alive, and almost all of those are not sufficiently monitored unless they are incarcerated in civil institutions.
According to the Special Master's report, it took an average of 19.5 years from the first knowledge of a clergyman's abuse for a bishop to restrict his ministry. If every abuser-priest averages nine victims who come forward, that means a majority of Colorado's victims are still hidden.
We believe all three bishops in Colorado owe it to their flocks, and most importantly to the men and women who are survivors of abuse, to publish a complete list of all clerics -- diocesan, order and extern -- as well as deacons, brothers, nuns, seminarians, lay employees and volunteers who have abused children and are associated with the three dioceses of Colorado. That information is already in their files and at their fingertips. The sooner that list is published, the sooner safety measures can be put in place to protect those still vulnerable.
(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)