El Paso Catholic Bishop responds to U.N. Report

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 1:08am

The leader of El Paso's Catholic Diocese responds to a United Nations report - claiming the church isn't doing enough in alleged child sexual abuse cases. While the church said they have made leaps and bounds from how they've handled these cases decades ago. A survivor group said that's simply not enough.

Bishop Mark Seitz inherited his fair share of challenges when he became the El Paso diocese's leader.

"We've had to find whole new ways to deal with this terrible plague in our society,” Bishop Mark Seitz said. In the six months he's been Bishop he’s had to deal with the shock waves of two alleged sexual abuse cases in the diocese -- both involving the former priest of sacred heart church who allegedly sexually abused two boys in the 70's.

Fast forward to 2014 and the Bishop said he hasn't heard of any new claims against clergy members."I'm not aware of any case in the diocese of El Paso that has come forward since about the mid-90s."

But the Executive Director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, an organization with members throughout the U.S. said, that's not necessarily the case.

"According to one independent source there are at least 14 proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting in El Paso, TX,” David Clohessy, the Executive Director of SNAP said. "Almost always, victims find the strength to speak up decades later."

Clohessy knows all too well about speaking up against alleged abusers because he explained, he was a victim. "I myself was abused for a period of about four years as a child in Missouri by my parish priest."

Now an advocate for those abused by clergy members his group is urging the bishop to do more than what he calls 'the bare minimum.’ "30 Catholic bishops across America have posted on their website the names of predator priests. El Paso's Bishop has not done so. "

The Bishop admits the church has made mistakes but told us, progress is being made and acknowledges they have more work to do. ”We make available our counseling services,” Bishop Seitz said, "We really want to be a source of healing for people who have suffered those terrible abuses."

SNAP is also hoping the Bishop will personally reach out to the parishes where suspected abuse occurred and urge people to speak up if anything suspicious has happened there.

That’s not the only issue the Bishop is dealing with he also told us priests in El Paso are hard to come by. And he may be looking to other countries to fill the void.


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