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Archbishop: Focus should be on victims’ assistance

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Archbishop John Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe says rather than using the tragedy of clerical sexual abuse to promote an agenda, the focus should remain on assisting the victims (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In the wake of the recent revelations of a Pennsylvania grand jury concerning clergy child abuse, Archbishop John Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe on Friday issued a statement saying he was concerned that many people were “using these tragedies to further an agenda.”

Wester cautioned people “to be on guard and not give in to the temptation to blame.”

In his statement, Wester refers to the alleged sexual abuse of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, previously the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and among the highest-ranking Vatican officials in America forced to resign.

Wester also mentions Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ³, the former chief Vatican diplomat in the United States, who penned an 11-page letter in which he called for the resignation of Pope Francis for allegedly covering up abuse charges against McCarrick, and for giving comfort to what ViganĂ³ described as a “homosexual current” in the Vatican.

ViganĂ³ “needs to show greater care in helping us to discern God’s will in these tragic times,” said Wester. “I am disturbed by this, and other attempts to promote a certain agenda, for two principal reasons.”

First, he said, “when the discussion turns to ecclesial politics and the typical flash points between conservatives and liberals,” it distracts from where the focus ought to be, which is assisting the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

The second reason is the attack on Pope Francis, who “has shown himself to be a man of integrity, compassion and love,” Wester said. “In the short five years of his pontificate, he has demonstrated again and again his truthfulness and his love for the vulnerable, even in the midst of strong and painful criticism.”

The pope, Wester said, “has led the Catholic Church with a clear vision that is formed by the Gospel and grounded in our sacred tradition,” and has never wavered in his dedication to the poor and marginalized.

Just this week, a local law firm that has represented more than 100 survivors of clerical sexual abuse requested that New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas follow the lead of the AG’s Office in Pennsylvania and impanel a grand jury to investigate “the institutional cover-up” of child sexual abuse by clergy in New Mexico.

The Journal has repeatedly and unsuccessfully sought comment from Wester to ask him if he would support the impaneling of a grand jury.

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