My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Sept. 12 the Archdiocese of Santa Fe released a list of 74 priests, deacons and religious who have been accused of sexual abuse of children. The vast majority of these abuses occurred over 25 years ago. Since then, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has implemented a number of strict measures, including removing perpetrators from ministry, terminating employment of perpetrators, instituting a zero tolerance policy, and implementing Safe Environment and Victim’s Assistance Programs throughout the Archdiocese. As a result, since 1993 the Archdiocese has received only two reports of clergy sexual misconduct with a minor where the incident was reported to have occurred later than 1993.
On Oct. 18, Judge Alan Malott, a district court judge in Albuquerque, ordered the public release of approximately 1,000 pages of documents related to three of the most prolific child abusers to have ever served in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe: 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.
It is difficult to put into words my sadness and shame over the betrayal of trust by members of the clergy who were supposed to love and protect our children and young people, and for the pain and suffering endured by victims of this abuse. 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. Jesus said “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Lk 18:16). It is at the heart of the church’s mission, therefore, to protect, nurture and care for our children. Indeed, the church and any society can be judged on how well it cares for the vulnerable in its midst. When the church fails in this sacred responsibility, we betray the trust Christ has given us and the trust of those we have a responsibility to look out for and safeguard.
I firmly believe that actions speak louder than words. What is often lost or relegated to a footnote in the media’s coverage of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in New Mexico are the many steps this Archdiocese has taken over the past 25 years to prevent sexual abuse of children. First of all, since 1993, the Archdiocese has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy with respect to clergy credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors. 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.