Examining Nm’s Problem with Pedophile Priests
By Dave Marash
November 15, 2017
The role of a priest, in the Catholic Church and other religions is that of a mediator, a connector, a communicator of that state of grace known as the Holy Spirit that puts man in touch with God. He is a kind of religious middle man, if you will, between the laity, the ordinary believers of a Churchly congregation and God.
Thus, when a priest abuses members of his congregation, he is committing, simultaneously, 2 betrayals…first, of his sacred relationship to God and his Church, — a breach of faith, and second, of his human relationship to the person he has abused – a breach of trust.
Both of these betrayals seem especially heinous when the victim of abuse is a child.
Compounding these offenses against God and humanity is when a priest’s abuses are covered up by his superiors in the hierarchy of the Church.
In the middle of September of this year, 2017, the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Santa Fe, NM, declared a decades long cover-up of abusive priests was being ended with the public naming of 74 “credibly accused” pedophile priests. Accusations against dozens of priests in New Mexico parishes have dogged the Church for more than 2 decades.
Many of the accusations were settled with payments that totaled in the tens of millions of dollars, but many of those settlements also reinforced the cover-up. Archbishop John Wester’s public declaration and apology to “My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, [expressed] “sadness and shame over the betrayal of trust” by priests and other churchmen “who were supposed to love and protect our children,” was a dramatic step in what the victims’ advocacy group the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) called “the right direction.”
But SNAP noted, the naming of 74 “credibly accused” abusers came only under pressure from a new state law empowering victims to name their alleged abusers in civil suits. And although the 74 names included more than 20 never made public before, it may not be complete. And the evidentiary record, more than 1000 documents from Church files, pertaining to 3 former priests, Jason Sigler, Sabine Griego and Arthur Perrault was released only after a court order
Ellen Berkovitch leads the Special Projects Reporting team of herself, Hannah Colton and Rita Daniels, reporting “Dark Canyon: Sexual Abuse and Secrecy in the Archdiocse of Santa Fe.” She was KSFR News Director from August 2016 to September 2017. In spring 2017 she was awarded the Large Market Radio Excellence in Journalism prize from the New Mexico Association of Broadcasters for continuing coverage. The four-part series, Vulnerable Adults, was produced and hosted by Ellen Berkovitch, with one-part being contributed by News contributor Derrick Toledo.
After relocating to New Mexico in 1993, she spent seven years as a freelance art critic for Albuquerque Journal North, and then became a staff writer at Santa Fe New Mexican’s Pasatiempo from 1999-2001.
In 2000, Berkovitch won an Associated Press investigative journalism award for her series on art dealer Gerald Peters’ sale of paintings attributed to Georgia O’Keeffe that experts later determined were fakes. She spent the next decade contributing to national publications including Artforum, Art&Auction, Art and Antiques, The New York Times, Los Angeles Weekly and other newspapers and magazines. She was editor-in-chief of Santa Fe Trend from 2007 to 2009.
In 2009, inspired by the digital revolution in journalism, Berkovitch became a journalism entrepreneur, founding the online art magazine of AdobeAirstream.com now in its eighth year of publication.