ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — The Roman Catholic archbishop of Santa Fe says the archdiocese has received only two allegations of clergy sexual misconduct involving children since 1993, due to the numerous strict measures aimed at preventing further abuse.
Archbishop John C. Wester published an op-ed piece in The Albuquerque Journal on Sunday expressing “sadness and shame over the betrayal of trust” by clergy “who were supposed to love and protect our children,” and for the suffering of abuse survivors.
“I offer my sincere apology on behalf of the Archdiocese to survivors and their families, and my continued commitment to support and assist you on your road to healing and recovery,” Wester wrote.
The op-ed follows the recent release by the archdiocese of a list of 74 clergy credibly accused of abuse, and documents that shed light on how the church allowed three pedophile priests to continue to prey on New Mexico children more than 20 years ago.
Psychological screening and background checks for prospective clergy and other zero-tolerance policies, such as training programs and workshops, are among steps taken that have helped to prevent abuse, Wester wrote in his op-ed.
“Of the 74 names on the Archdiocese’s list of accused clergy, those who are still living have been permanently restricted from public ministry or removed from the priesthood,” he wrote.
Last week, the archdiocese announced a series of panel discussions scheduled from Nov. 7 to Jan. 31 at five parishes around New Mexico.
The goal of the panels is “to promote further transparency and healing,” and obtain ideas about how to protect children, he wrote.
The three former archdiocesan priests whose records were among those disclosed are Arthur Perrault, Sabine Griego and Jason Sigler.
“Although their crimes were committed decades ago, it is my hope that the release of these documents to the public will further aid in the healing process for past victims and their families,” Wester wrote.