Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Credibly Acused

This a list of 48 clergy that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has acknowledged through their response to complaints that have been credibly accused of improper sexual contact.

Role First Name Last Name ADSF Confirmation Based on Response to This Complaint
Priest Lionel Abeywickrema D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Marvin Archuleta D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Paul Baca D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Donald Bean D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Earl Bierman D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Bernard Bissonette D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Laurence Brett D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Ronald Bruckner D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Walter Cassidy D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Henry Clark D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Leo Courcy D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Edward Donelan D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest John Esquibel D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Anthony Gallegos D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Ruben Garcia D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Sabine Griego D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest David Holley D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Theodore Isaias D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Phillip James D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest James Kemper D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Robert Kirsch D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Irving Klister D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Laurier Labreche D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Vincent Lipinski D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Humbertus Lomme D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Clive Lynn D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Robert Malloy D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Roger Martinez D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Armando Martinez D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Luis Martinez D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Diego Mazon D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Michael O'Brien D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Philip Peralta D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Arthur Perrault D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest James Porter D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest John Rodriguez D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Ronald Roth D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Charles Rourke D-202-CV-2015-05745
Priest Lorenzo Ruiz D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Edward Rutowski D-202-CV-2014-03331
Deacon Julian Sanchez D-202-CV-2014-03331
Archbishop Robert Sanchez D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Clarence Schoeppner D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Jason Sigler D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest George Silva D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Robert Smith D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest Ignacio Tafoya D-202-CV-2014-03331
Priest George Weisenborn D-202-CV-2014-03331

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why Was I 'Chosen' to be Abused?

Why was I ‘chosen’ to be abused? This is the first question I wanted answered. The fact is that I was not chosen for whom I was, but for the opportunity, I presented. This perpetrator did not go to find me on the street or break into my house, but unfortunately, due to my Catholic upbringing and the trust it fostered in me for all things Catholic, I delivered myself to his literal doorstep. In most priest-abuse cases, there is a proper and trusting relationship that develops before the abuse. In my case, I made contact with my abuser because I was eager to learn about the priesthood, since it was vocation that I was seriously considering. He did not abuse me the first or second time we met. It took a number of interactions where I now realize that he was grooming me for that ‘perfect’ opportunity. He leveraged the fact that I had spent a significant portion of my childhood listening to him every Sunday morning delivering mass on the radio and that I believed he was a priest that represented the values that I believed were universally Catholic and had been instilled in me through my weekly attendance of mass in the various parishes of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe I had belonged to. I thought him to be the ideal person to confide with in reference to my aspirations of following the Sacrament of Holy Orders. In fact, because of the years that I had heard him on the radio, when I first met him in person, it was as if I already knew him. As is with every crime, there needs to be a victim, a perpetrator, and the necessary circumstances so that the crime can occur. In my case, because I was an altar boy since the age of seven and had great trust and faith in the church, I was the perfect victim. I created the opportunity because I had translated that trust and faith of the Catholic Church and Archdiocese of Santa Fe to a priest whom I hardly knew and he seized on the opportunity to exploit it for his own perverse pursuits.

Why was I chosen? Simply put, this long-time perpetrator could not pass up on abusing a child who he knew was indoctrinated to trust the actions of a holy priest without question. Even more significantly was that he knew that there would be no consequences for his actions, after having abused so many others before me. Even when his superiors became aware of his reprehensible behavior, he knew that he would not suffer any retribution because silence and secrecy was how the Catholic Church operated and unfortunately how they still operate today. That is why I was ‘chosen’.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Will the New Pope End the Secrecy?

Falling to Sentimentality

Because I spent so many years as a Catholic, I can still fall prey to the sentimentality that a symbolic event such as a Pope visit can illicit. As an altar boy, I had dreamed of becoming the Archbishop or maybe even the Pope, so those childhood dreams are still rattling around in my my memory banks. I caught myself watching the feel-good Pope coverage and listening to testimonials by the faithful, so it did cause me to me to feel a bit nostalgic for my Catholic roots. This had happened to me before about the time when the Pope was originally installed.

 A Bit of History

Coincidentally, a short time after that Pope Francis was named, I realized that the life-long emotional issues I had experienced were most likely related to the trauma of childhood sexual abuse by a priest. Given my fragile emotional state, I deferred to what was familiar and decided to visit the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and discuss my abuse with their Victim's Coordinator. For the first time ever,  I disclosed to her that I was the victim of a priest who I had gone to in search of vocational counseling since I believed that I might want to pursue the priesthood. The result of that meeting was that the Victims Coordinator told me that the priest that had raped me had died and that I should pursue spiritual counseling, which she would be glad to provide. Being curious about the priest's death, I searched the internet and found that the perpetrator priest had in reality not died and because of this fabrication, once again I felt victimized by an official of the Catholic church who I had gone to seek advice from. I had been hopeful that a 'new' Catholic Church would magically be awaiting for me, with the installation of a new Pope, but I was definitely wrong.

Resisting that Which is Comfortable and Familiar

The Catholic religion is full of ceremony and ritual and if you are indoctrinated in it, there is always a danger of falling back into its clutches because it's what you know and what you grew up with, even if you have been victimized by it. The Pope's visit was exactly that: one big performance of rituals and symbolic gestures that were mostly meant to persuade the millions of Catholics that have now become dormant to return to their roots and his charisma and humble charm even worked on me for a bit. He understands how powerful symbolism is and he used it at every opportunity during his visit to imply that the Catholic church was changing and that he would be a progressive leader, but unfortunately his symbolism does not match his actions. It is becoming clear to me that he is trying to use his stature and reputation to increase the number of total Catholics, since their numbers in America are decreasing according to a 2015 Pew Survey. He is doing little to to change those things that he could change, which is well documented in a National Catholic Reporter article from October 1, 2015. It reads in part:
  "In matters of child sexual abuse, Pope Francis has no constitution, no Congress, no Senate and no Supreme Court that could restrain him from changing canon law. He has no obligation even to consult anyone. He is the last of the absolute monarchs.
He can take out his pen at breakfast, and write on his napkin an instruction to abolish the pontifical secret in cases of child sexual abuse and to order mandatory reporting everywhere. He can instruct it to be translated into Latin and to have it published on the Acta Apostolicae Sedis. It then becomes canon law."

What I Have Realized..Again

In short, the Pope's visit validated something that I already knew, but had forgotten: the Catholic Church is built on a two thousand-year-old tradition of secrecy and one pope is not going to change that. In fact, it is unlikely that any pope will change that. It is important that I use data and results and not pomp and circumstance to judge the Catholic Church, which I already know buries its dirty laundry and refuses to air it out. Given that realization, about the only thing that can force the Catholic Church, and more specifically, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, to be more transparent about their problem with child sex abuse is the utilization of civil authority in the form of a jury trial. See you in court come August of 2016!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Why Was the Archdiocese of Santa Fe So Secretive About Child Sexual Abuse by Priests?

Thank you to a very well-informed fellow survivor for giving me a quick lesson on Catholic Canon law relating to the oath of secrecy that essentially forbids anyone in the Catholic Church from talking publicly about a priest accused of child sex abuse. Given my research, I have come to the conclusion that the fundamental reason that priests, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals have not been able to effectively address the issue of sexual abuse of children is because they were commanded to maintain all aspects of sexual deviance of priests a secret, unless they wanted to be excommunicated almost instantaneously. Crimen Solicitationis is the name of a document that was issued by the Vatican to all bishops that was supposed to explain the process of dealing with the sexual deviance of priests inside and outside of the confessional. Unfortunately, the majority of the discussion in the document focuses on the mandate to maintain all information relating to the sexual deviance of a priest absolutely secret. This means that it would be highly unlikely for this information to be shared with civil authorities, and therefore highly unlikely that any priest be charged criminally. Crimen Solicitationis also mentions that victims, investigators, family members, or anyone who knows anything about the abuse also need to hide, bury, destroy, and forget everything about it and essentially never speak of it again, or also face the consequence of instantaneous excommunication. This very formal and engrained "culture of secrecy" has been the norm for almost two millennia in the Catholic Church, so it is not surprising that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe followed in the dogma of its mother church and never exposed its errant priests, at least not voluntarily. 

Think of an analogous situation in current secular life. A recently hired assistant superintendent for the Albuquerque Public Schools was found to be facing charges for sexual assault of a child. This story was circulated quickly by the media and within days he was fired. Within about a week of that, the superintendent who hired the accused pedophile was also gone. If all of this information would have been kept private, it is unlikely that the powers at be would have been so motivated to act so swiftly and decisively. They may have opted to quietly move the beleaguered employees into other positions so as to preserve the reputation of the school district, as a whole. Although the ramifications are not over for the school district itself, it has demonstrated a level of transparency that will allow them to move on with finding replacements and there is no doubt that the vetting process for the replacements will be quite rigorous because of the public scrutiny that the process is sure to receive. On the other hand for many decades, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has kept anything that might damage their reputation, like priest abuse of children, completely buried, even when public disclosure of the information might have stopped future abuse from occurring. Given what I know about my perpetrator priest and his multitude of victims before me, I honestly believe that if there would have been just one courageous soul who would have publicly disclosed the level of abuse that was occurring at the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, my abuse may have never happened, which makes me both very sad and very angry.

What did all of this mean to an altar boy who had aspirations to become a priest and possibly even the Archbishop some day? It meant that a perpetrator priest knew all about the "culture of secrecy" and used it to cloak his deviant compulsions. This priest thought that these evil secrets would remain buried in the psyche of his victim, perhaps forever, and by exercising the sacrament of confession and absolution with other priests who were bound by the seal of confession, he was able to clear his own conscience. This leaves the altar boy having to deal with the complete collapse his faith which up until the time of his abuse was simple, pure and child-like. As a consequence, the abuse leads to a lifetime of rage and self-loathing which would eventually manifest itself in various types of self-harm and the inability to lead a normal life. No amount of confession and absolution cured these ills for the the altar boy and unfortunately there was not a section in Crimen Solicitationis that dealt with fixing broken children. It's main focus was on protecting the image, sanctity, and purity of the Catholic Church, whatever the cost, including altar boys.

For those of you who want to learn more about the document Crimen Solicitationis, here is a link to a more academic explanation: Crimen Solicitationis.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: A Conspiracy of Silence?

In the last couple weeks two victims of sexual abuse by Archdiocese of Santa Fe priests have filed claims that provide further insight into the culture that facilitated decades of abuse. In the case of Sabine Griego, his elevated status with the Archdiocese and his close relationship with the late Archbishop Robert Sanchez allowed him to act with no fear of retribution from the Archdiocese and, as a consequence, no fear of criminal prosecution from civil authorities. His methods involved targeting boys who came from families that were deeply rooted in the Catholic faith and using alcohol and other substances to gain control of their wills and their bodies. He knew that either because of fear, embarrassment, or pure disgust, these boys would not tell their parents and even if they did, it would be their word against the priest who to their families was considered the direct carnal representative of Jesus on earth.

Given all that has been revealed and so much more that should be revealed, it is clear that there was conspiracy of silence among so many in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. I doubt that the Archbishop sent a memo out to the parish priests to tell them to ignore sexual abuse of children by their peers, but he did something that was equally as effective: name one of the most prolific sexual abusers in the Archdiocese as head of their personnel board. This board was empowered to assign and reassign priests and held all the administrative power to reward and punish priests of the Archdiocese as they saw fit. Additionally, the Archbishop had his own issues with young women that could have easily been used as leverage to influence his behavior. Sabine Griego held the title of Chairman of the Personnel board for many years and if all the relevant records from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe were released, it would be clear that pedophile priests were moved around strategically when allegations were made in an attempt to hide those allegations.

I have included Martin Salazar's recent article in the Las Vegas Optic where he did a good job of summarizing the latest victim's accounts.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

From the Faith of a Child to the Faith of Recovery

I have decided to use this as a forum to document the origins (and later disintegration) of my Catholic faith. This journey has taken up more than 40 years of my life and I want to share my story because it is important to me that this ordeal was not in vain and that it might possibly help someone to understand that there is hope for those who have suffered the same fate. I am also doing this so that I can fully understand the extent that that the sexual abuse perpetrated by a Catholic priest upon me had on my faith, my relationships, and ultimately on my soul. Lastly, this narrative is also about how I have been helped by therapeutic methods including counseling, my own research into the history of priest abuse in New Mexico, and a passionate pursuit of justice. I am hoping others will join with me to share their stories so that there can be power and safety in numbers. This has led to my current faith: faith in recovery.

One of my earliest memories as a child is watching my mom get a small baggie full of saltines and a small Mason jar of water prepared when we were about to leave for church on a Sunday morning. I remember feeling a bit restless because church was a place where I had to do my best to stay quiet and keep myself occupied for what seemed to be many hours. A coloring book might also be involved in this excursion, but my attention span was about 5 minutes and I would polish off the water and crackers within another few minutes of that, so the rest of the time I was probably causing some mischief for someone. When the coloring book or saltines did not work, there was always the tried and true method of a hard pinch to the arm that served to remind you that there was a higher authority…Mom.

As I became older, maybe about 6, I started to become very familiar with the various rituals that took place throughout the mass and I always looked forward to certain parts which changed the activity level from just listening to the padre speak to the part where we got to turn around and shake hands with the people around us. I felt that this was really fun and I especially looked forward to the viejitos (elderly folk) who were usually always very congenial during this communal peace offering. More and more I was becoming captivated with the church and it was not long before I noticed some kids a bit older than me helping out el sagrado padre (the sacred priest) and I wanted in on becoming part of the main “show” and not just the audience.

Keep in mind where I grew up was a rural community where ranching and farming were the mainstays and there was no little league, community swimming pool, or the YMCA to keep kids occupied. About the only extra-curricular activities available to us as children were school sports and church activities. School sports were outlawed for me because my older brothers had both broken their nose playing basketball and according to mom and dad, that fate would surely follow me if I took up basketball. That left me with the choice of becoming an altar boy, un monaguillo, who I had noticed were literally and figuratively being placed on a pedestal (the altar). During my childhood, little boys who played baseball probably looked up to Reggie Jackson or Pete Rose. My heroes were Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Robert Sanchez, and later, Pope John Paul II. At the time, I remember frequently daydreaming about being a priest, and then later an archbishop, and perhaps even the pope.

To understand my mindset, I came from a home where there were frequent affirmations to God, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and a long litany of Saints on a daily and most likely hourly basis. “!Buenos días te de Dios, mi hijito!” would be a frequent greeting morning greeting from my Dad. “Gracias a tatita Dios, y a Jesús Cristo, y la Virgen” would be a phrase used frequently by my Mom to give thanks for anything that was considered good that had happened. “!Gracias a Dios que vino la luz!” would have been uttered in response to the electricity being restored, even though God most likely had nothing to do with it. I learned from observation and through specific teaching, that there were certain Catholic traditions and rules that were sacred and were to be respected. One of the weirdest ones I remember was when I was scolded by my father as a little boy for singing during holy week. He told me that it was disrespectful to show any type of joy during the most holy days of the Catholic tradition. During this holiest of seasons,  I remember going very frequently to church and I also remember asking someone, I believe my sister, to read to me a booklet called The Stations of the Cross,  since I had not yet learned to read. I remember the pictures were quite violent and then l remember sitting and listening intently to this most disturbing story. At the end, I found myself crying my eyes out after thinking how could anyone be so cruel as to nail someone to a cross. That was the day that I started listening and subsequently believing what was said by the priest and what was being said in the readings and in essence the inception of my faith given my understanding of God and the church. There was a mystical aspect to the church that was generated by this experience and it also created the impression that the priest was as close to Jesus as we mere mortals could get. At about the age of seven when I attended catechism, I was taught that the priest had an open line to God. In fact, in my catechism book there was a picture of the priest and a superimposition of the image of Jesus. From this, I surmised that if we got in good with the priest, we would surely be able to get to heaven. In my eyes, priests were somehow superhuman and I had even wondered naively if priests went to the bathroom!

Over the years, I became more and more involved in the church, first as an altar server and then as a lector. The experiences that I had with priests up until the time that I was raped were mostly very good and very positive. The first priest I served with was pretty old and a bit grumpy. He had an elaborate intercom system set up in his church residence that in retrospect was a bit odd, but apparently did not arise any suspicions at the time that I knew of. I have subsequently found out that this priest had a female assistant who was also most likely his girlfriend, which might explain why he was a bit paranoid. Another priest I served with was from Mexico, and looked a lot like and older Austin Powers. He had an infectious laugh that was reminiscent of Santa Claus and he spoke very little English. He restored many of the traditions that had been lost in our church, like Las Posadas and Las Mañanitas a la Virgen. He was also pretty lax in enforcing some of the Catholic rules he did not agree with. For example, he did not comply with the Catholic directive of refusing communion to divorced Catholics and even encouraged them to participate in communion openly. He would also call into service random people from the congregation to serve as Eucharistic ministers without any training, which made for an entertaining communion session, especially when someone new would drop a consecrated host and I as altar boy had to scurry about on my hands and knees trying to find it. He loved to socialize and that socialization often involved drinking a bit with his “flock.” He had a ratty old car that someone had donated to him and I would often be his designated driver as we went from house to house visiting his parishioners. He was not shy about asking the “church ladies” to cook for him and asking them to share whatever cheap wine they might have left over from a previous celebration. He always insisted that they join him in “una copita,” (a little cup) as he would say. The discussions he had with his congregants were very positive and I enjoyed listening to him promote his view of the world which was could be summed up into encouraging people to celebrate life, interact with each other, and not take life so seriously. This is what people loved about him. His message was simple and easy to understand. I have come to find out that the people of Northern New Mexico, my people, like things to be simple, including their Catholicism, and his brand was exactly that: simple. He was habitually late, so one Sunday when he had not shown for about an hour, people were still waiting for him. Finally, one of the viejitas started reciting the rosary and we all left after she was done without a mass being held. We all wondered what could have happend to el padrecito, but there was no answer at his church residence. No official word ever came about his whereabouts, but the gossip going around indicated that it was due to his use of his status as a priest to bring over undocumented relatives from Mexico, which was never confirmed. I never saw him again.

The next priest that came to our parish came from back east somewhere and was a big tall “gringo” who wanted to remove all the altars from the churches and do away with the saints. He said it was improper for the priest to be on a pedestal and that the way Northern New Mexicans revered the saints was for all practical purposes idolatry. This did not sit well with the majority of the tradition-oriented parishioners and he his initiatives were quickly thwarted. This was about the time when I was starting high school and there was much personal drama taking place in my family, and therefore the majority of my parent’s attention was going to other family members who were in most need. I was pretty much self-sufficient and my grades were such that I could choose to attend any school in the state and I had settled on the University of New Mexico. I continued to be a church lector and “altar teen,” as needed, but kept my vocational aspirations of priesthood pretty much to myself. This was because after mentioning this idea to my parents, they were not supportive of this grand idea. I did not quite understand why they were opposed and their reasoning centered around the cryptic statement that “un hombre necesita una mujer” (a man needs a woman) and they pretty much left it at that. Since they were devout Catholics, I would have thought that this would have made them orgullosos (proud) that they might have a son become a priest, but I was mistaken and I kept my priestly aspirations to myself, for the time being.

The summer before I attended UNM, I went for an extended freshman orientation and immediately searched for a church that I could call my home when I moved to Albuquerque. I was familiar with a priest who was assigned to Las Vegas in my childhood and would have his Spanish mass broadcast on the radio every Sunday. Even after attending church in person, we would sit around the breakfast table and listen to mass again because the priest’s homilies were always quite inspirational. I found out that he was currently assigned to Queen of Heaven and I had a pre-ordained admiration of him because of his preaching that I had heard probably a hundred times before on the radio. To me, this was a divine coincidence and I knew that I had found my church away from home.That summer, I attended mass many times and late that summer introduced myself to this priest who I held in high esteem and who I almost felt I knew from before because of the times I had spent listening to him on the radio. What I did not know then about this priest, that was known to the powers at be in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, was that I had sought out a church with a priest that had already been accused of impropriety with children. Had this fact been communicated at his previous parish, I would have known that this “man” was no one to admire and much less to seek out. In fact, it would have been unlikely that the parishioners at Queen of Heaven would have tolerated being assigned a priest that could present a danger to their children. If someone from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe would have taken the courageous step of publicly acknowledging and warning its parishioners about this “man,” my abuse and likely the abuse of many others could have been avoided. I have no doubt that the blind faith in the Catholic Church and their priests that was indoctrinated in me over my entire childhood resulted in a predilection to blindly trust the entire Catholic institution. This institution included a multitude of predatory priests who abused this preexisting trust in ways that the lay people of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe have yet to learn. I have no doubt that what caused even more harm to me than the rape of my body was the rape of my spirit and my soul. Wounds to the body will eventually heal and even fade given enough time. Wounds to the spirit and the soul will fundamentally change an individual and what I have come to terms with is that I will likely never completely heal, but I still have faith: faith in recovery.

If you want more information on finding help, you can email me at