Archbishop Sanchez: I Did 'What I Thought Was Best'
Santa Fe New Mexican (New Mexico)
September 19, 1996
The following are excerpts from the Jan. 12, 1994, deposition of former Archbishop Robert F. Sanchez by Bruce Pasternack, attorney for plaintiffs in lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests.
On sexual abuse by priests
Question: On the occasions when allegations were brought to your attention of priests having sex with parishioners or with children, did you feel that you had an obligation to help those parishioners or children?
Answer: Yes. I certainly felt within my own heart a concern for them. I wasn't aware totally of what damage could be suffered from a person who has been abused. I wasn't aware of that in the '70s. I'm only becoming more and more aware of it today as all our sciences increase. But our concern was there for the people to see that whatever need that they may have expressed would be met. The first thing, of course, was to remove the priest who would have been alleged to have done something wrong, to remove him from the situation so that there would not be that fear any longer.
Question: I realize that you do not have children, and I accept that proposition. But you do have, I know, many nieces and nephews.
Question: And I'm sure that you were present at their various stages of growth and that you loved them as any uncle loves nieces and nephews.
Answer: Very much.
Question: In view of that experience, are you saying that it comes as a surprise to you that children who are sexually molested by adults are damaged?
Answer: The extent of the damage, Mr. Pasternack, is known to very few people. It's more known today than was known in the '70s. I believe anyone present here today would be able to give testimony to that same fact. School teachers may be instructed, and there, very little perhaps. But I think the common person, the ordinary person, would not be aware of the severe damage or lasting damage that could occur depending on what transpired with the child.
Question: Are you saying then, sir, that in the 1970s, you didn't have an intuitive knowledge that for a child to be sexually molested by an adult was a terribly damaging event?
Answer: No, I am not saying that. What I am saying is that I was unaware of any lasting type of damage that a child might suffer, how long that might be with them. I believe that any child who had been offended was severely offended, and that child needed to be cared for; and the best care that was necessary, especially as expressed by the parents, should be provided for.
Question: Let me ask it a different way. Did you then, in fact, know even in the '70s that a child who was sexually molested by an adult would likely be severely emotionally injured by that event?
Answer: The word "severely" is a relative term, and I could not accept that word. I was aware that they were hurt, but how severe that would be was not known to me.
Question: Are you able to put yourself in this situation: Hypothetically, if some grown man had sexually molested one of your nieces when they were 10 years old, what would your reaction to that have been? Are you able to form an opinion about that?
Answer: I would have been very angry, very upset, concerned for her, and making certain that she would be able to adjust after the event had occurred, that she could recapture her the natural life that she had been living prior to the event that we're referring to.
Question: Even as a Godly man and a Holy man, which we all know you are, wouldn't you have just wanted to kill the guy?
Answer: I don't know. I would have been very angry. I cannot say that I would want to kill that person. That's a very severe feeling that a person has inside themselves. That would include hate, and I've always tried to avoid hate of any kind. I would have been very angry, very upset. I don't think I would have taken it to that point.
Question: Doesn't your intuition tell you and didn't it always tell you that for an adult to force themselves sexually on a child is going to injure that child?
Question: Did you feel, as archbishop, any particular and distinct obligation to the Catholic children of New Mexico?
Answer: I felt an obligation to everyone, Mr. Pasternack. Children are a very essential part of our community, and I've always reached out to children, have been concerned about children. But I don't think my concern was limited only to Catholic children in New Mexico. I think it was to all children and to all people. I wouldn't limit it to that one category.
On pedophilia and hindsight
Question: Do you have any opinions, archbishop, looking back in retrospect as you see what has happened to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, as you see what's happened to all with all the people who have come forward?
Question: As to whether you performed adequately by not more diligently investigating when these matters were originally coming up?
Answer: I would say this, in all honesty, I think every one of us, hindsight is 20/20 vision. When you look back, we can always see things much clearer than we could when we first looked at them. We have many Monday-morning quarterbacks who would call a play differently, so that a team might have won on Saturday. I think all of us, then, in one way or another, know that we can improve on our procedures, on our actions, on our programs, whatever it may be. Even parents know that they can improve their parental guidance of children once they've gained experience. And I would say the same is true about me in these cases. I was inexperienced with pedophilia. I did not know what allegations entailed. I was unaware of any extensive and continued damage that a child might suffer from that. These were not issues that were public in the 1960s or '70s and perhaps even early '80s. And so I acted and this is the bottom line to your question I acted according to what I knew and what I thought was best. The information that we have now would lead me to take a different course of action, so as to offer greater protection to our children, because that is the greatest concern of our church is the common good of the people whom we serve. And we have to continually look out for that common good. And so today, with knowledge that I have, I would want to do things more effectively, more thoroughly, and perhaps with greater continual follow-up, so that all children would be protected.
Question: Do you have an opinion, now, looking back in retrospect, as to whether that prudence and caution didn't allow a terrible problem to fester secretly?
Answer: What I have learned now in 1994 is that confirmed pedophiles, as we have looked at them, unless it is their first occasion that they have molested a child, that there is a possibility that they have molested others, that is one of the characteristics that seems to accompany pedophilia. And with that knowledge now, I would be more thorough in any investigation that I would make with any allegation that would be brought to me, so as to make certain that we would cover as much of the field as possible, both for the child that has been hurt and providing for that child and for the family, but also to inquire from the family about any possible other cases, asking also the psychiatrist who might be helping the child to question whether the child would know others, and to try to investigate any other circumstances that could lead to possible victims. I would try to be more thorough.
Question: All right. In the eyes of the church, is it more important to prevent scandal than to prevent the rape of children?
Answer: No. I think that you're excluding any possibilities of in-betweens. The church has a great concern for all of its people. Its children are God's gift to us. We have to protect them. We're not going to do something that would endanger the children. That is not the church's action. I know that you're saying that if we don't announce something publicly that this is going to endanger the children. The church's policy has always been not to make public announcements about things that could lead to people being divided one against the other, of this type of public scandal, as you would want to call it. It does not exclude the church's concern for any other victims who may be present in that community.
Question: In retrospect, archbishop, and perhaps engaging in Monday-morning quarterbacking, do you feel you were careless?
Answer: I feel, sir, that I did the best job I could at that time with what I knew and what procedures I was aware of. If you're asking whether I would do things differently today, perhaps I would.
Question: Could you describe in your own words what motivated you to tender your resignation?
Answer: I reached the decision to tender my resignation due to the fact that three women had come to yourself and had offered information to you and subsequently went to 60 Minutes, a national television program, where they stated that we had had a relationship in the 1970s, and they felt that this should be published. Once that became public knowledge, I felt that it would become an issue with the people of the archdiocese, that there would be those who would feel that they could still accept me as their archbishop, but there would be others who would probably feel they couldn't. And I have always felt that unity within any church group is essential, just as unity within a country is essential. And if I could no longer effectively lead the church as their archbishop, uniting them together, then it would be best for me to submit my resignation and allow another person to be appointed in my place.
Question: When you say chastity is a virtue, does that mean that when a priest takes a promise or a vow of chastity, it's a goal rather than a necessity to comply with that vow or promise?
Answer: It's not a vow of chastity that the diocesan priests take, but let's use the word "promise." I think that would be easy to understand. Whenever a promise is taken, it is taken, looking at chastity, as the goal, as the ideal. And we strive to live a chaste life as perfectly as possible, and that living out of a chaste life is encouraged by surrounding yourself with what we call a spiritual life, a spiritual structure, which involves regular prayer, which involves frequent confession, which involves a support group of other individuals who can talk with you and share encouragement to be faithful to your life of chastity or religious.
Question: When you use words like "encourage" and "goal," that suggests to me and I'd like to ask you if my interpretation is wrong that a breach of the promise of chastity is sort of optional if you find it too difficult to comply with?
Answer: No, I am not trying to indicate that. I'm saying that given human nature, the vow of chastity or just the life a chaste life for any individual will be fraught with difficulties throughout their life because of human nature, just as the promise or the virtue of honesty is difficult throughout a person's life. But we're obliged to live those virtues as perfectly as we can.
Question: Is it considered by the church, as you interpret church law and doctrine, to be a sin for a priest to breach the promise of chastity?
Answer: It is.
Question: Is there a degree of sin that you could classify it as?
Answer: Yes. There is what we call venial sin or mortal sin. That is a less serious offense against that virtue, or a more serious offense against that virtue. Generally speaking, in dealing with actions in reference to the Sixth Commandment, or the vow of chastity, they would be considered serious, unless there are circumstances which might affect the full willful action by that individual. Just to give you an example would an example be in order? ... I think the easiest example that I could use for a general understanding would be a person who's intoxicated. A person who is intoxicated, I think even civilly, is considered not to be in full control of their own faculties or their full will. And therefore, actions committed under those circumstances would have to be looked at individually and perhaps differently than from similar actions committed by someone else. Objectively, they're the same actions, but subjectively, there's been a change for the individual because he was not in total possession of his faculties of mind or of will. The same thing pertains to a contract. We know that if two people are to get married, they're entering into a contract. If one feels forced, then the free will of that individual has been impeded, and he's not entering or she's not entering into the will totally free. And so subjectively, it's not the same. So I'm saying that there are circumstances for any situation, any moral situation, which can mitigate the culpability of an individual regarding whatever action it may be that he has taken.
On other priests violating vows of chastity
Question: Did the fact that you had succumbed on occasion to the temptations of the flesh give you a greater sensitivity to similar failings by your brother priests?
Answer: What do you mean by "sensitivity?"
Question: When you found out that other priests had violated their promises of chastity, did it occur to you, "I too have known the temptations of the flesh. I too have been weak," and did you thereby tend to be more forgiving of them than you otherwise would have been?...
Answer: I would say offhand that I have always been a compassionate person, and that aside from any personal failures. And I think I've learned my compassion both from the example of my family, friends, as well as seminary training, because part of the church's training, our theology, is to follow the compassion of the Christ. Christ did not come into the world to save those who were saints but, in his own words, to save those who are in need of the physician, those who have sinned. And he even spoke to the woman caught in adultery to those who surrounded her, "Let those who are without sin cast the first stone." And he said this not to justify evil or to justify sin, but rather to emphasize the need for compassion, because, "There for but the grace of God go I." I had always been steeped in that concept of compassion. I cannot say honestly whether I was more compassionate to any man who admitted guilt to me because of my own sin. I would like to believe that I would have been as compassionate if I had never sinned, because that is how I was trained, and that is part of my character. I would say this, that knowing my own failure, I would have been able to speak directly to them perhaps with more serious admonition about the care for their own spirituality and their spiritual life, how to improve their own life and to be honest before God.
I suppose it would be like well, maybe like a parent, a parent who was imperfect and recognizes their own failure as a parent, and then they catch their son or their daughter in whatever, and they have to correct them. And they are sensitive to the failure of the son or daughter, but I think that they would probably correct them just as sternly to encourage them not to repeat that in the future. I think they would show sensitivity or compassion is the word that I would use. At the same time, I don't think they would be approving of the sin, in other words, of the son or the daughter, and that's why I use the example of Christ.
On fathering children
Question: I apologize for asking this question. Have you ever had any children?
Answer: No, sir, I have never had any children. Now, I want to repeat that, so that it's very clear. I have never had any children. And I understand it's difficult to ask a question like that.
On priests and homosexuality
Question: Did Father (name deleted) admit that he frequented the Ranch (a gay bar) but just say that he'd gone there for a drink?
Answer: He said he had been to I don't know the name of the place, but he'd been to this so-called gay bar, and he had gone there for a drink and wondered why that was so wrong, if people go to other bars. I said, "It's not the same, and you will not visit that again, because it's not the place for any Roman Catholic priest, period."
Question: Did you ever, archbishop, issue a memo or letter to the priests of the archdiocese telling them not to frequent gay bars?
Answer: To the best of my recollection, I never issued any memo. I can't recall that. I was very strong in voicing my opinion after confronting these men. And I took occasion to mention it to a meeting of one I think it was a personnel board meeting, and I was quite upset over it. But I don't recall issuing a memo.
Question: Were there any other priests beyond and whom you personally confronted and said, "Don't go to gay bars anymore?"
Answer: I confronted about four or five that you had on that list.
Question: What was your policy when you found out that a priest of your archdiocese was gay? Was it just to simply tell them to stay out of gay bars or was it more strong than that?
Answer: Well, I think to understand any reaction on my part towards any person accused of being a homosexual, the church looks at homosexuality from a double point of view. The first point is that people who are homosexual in their orientation, you cannot blame them. In some instances, this is part of their own nature. It's not an acquired orientation. But if that individual is acting on his orientation, acting out his homosexuality, those actions are forbidden as contrary to the virtue of the chastity, and considered immoral. So my reaction to these men was to bring this to their attention. I did not ask them directly if they were a homosexual or not, but I used the occasion to make it clear to them what their responsibility is before God.
On priests being sexually active
Question: Did the fact that (some) ... priests had at one time or another been presented to you as being sexually active in one way or another cause you any concern?
Answer: I think that a person tries to deal with the illness of an individual as it surfaces, and we try to deal with any allegation or illness, if you want to call it, of the priest, his spiritual illness, as it surfaced over those 17 years. It wasn't like a plague had suddenly descended upon the Archdiocese of Santa Fe at one time. It was people at differing times being alleged to have broken their promise of celibacy or the promise of chastity.
Question: And forgive me again, but there would be one more that we really should add to that list that you knew of before August of '91?
Question: Namely yourself?
On sin and absolution
Question: Are there any sins for which absolution is not available?
Answer: There are what they call reserved sins. One reserved sin has been the sin of abortion, because it is significantly a serious sin. However, because of the prevalence of abortion in our society in America today priests in I would say probably every diocese of our country have been granted that permission to absolve from that sin, but they do it with counseling for the penitent. Another grave reserved sin would be that of striking the priest or attempting to kill or harm the man physically. They would want to know what took place, so that it doesn't just it's not just a confession, but what has precipitated this. Another reserved sin, very serious, would be if the priest breaks the sacrament of the seal of confession, that he has made public somebody's confession. Then he is not granted absolution from that action, if, in fact, that had happened, until permission from the Holy Father is granted. So that's considered very serious.
Question: If a priest has forced sex with a child, is that a sin for which absolution is available?
Answer: That is a sin for which absolution is available provided the priest is properly disposed and recognizes his own sin.
Question: And who makes the determination as to whether the priest is properly disposed and recognizes his own sin?
Answer: It has to be the priest confessor, whoever he has gone to confession with.
Question: Would it be correct to say, then, that striking a priest or having an abortion are greater sins than for a priest to have sex with a child?
Answer: It's not judging which one is greater, but a potential harm that continues after that. Abortion is the destruction we believe it's the destruction of a human being, of an innocent human being who has no defense. And that act, unless properly counseled, can become repetitive. The sacrament of confession is a very sacred sacrament and demands absolute trust; and therefore, anyone who violates the secrecy of that confession does great harm to the sacrament itself, because it injures the trust that people may have in the sacrament. So these are actions that have been taken by the church in establishing the reserved sins for reasons that have occurred over the years, perhaps for centuries, that have lead to the determination of reserved sins. It's not to it is not to judge one action as more offensive or less offensive than another. All sin is ugly. All sin is dirty.
Question: But the abortion, if I understand you correctly, is less forgivable than the forcible rape?
Answer: It is forgivable. It was it's listed as a reserved sin unless the bishop grants permission to his priest to grant absolution for the sin of abortion.
Question: But did you ever direct your priests in this archdiocese at any point, "If you learn, if you receive confession from a priest who has raped a child, you are not to grant absolution unless that priest presents himself to the DA?"
Answer: I did not direct that to the priests because I cannot direct that. A priest confessor has to be his own judge within that tribunal. That's why it's called an internal forum. He has to be able to make those judgments there.
Question: So the confessor, absent the agreement of the penitent, can't tell you that the penitent admitted raping a child, can't tell the DA that the penitent admitted raping a child, I presume can't even tell the parents of the child that their child has been raped by the penitent; is that true?
Answer: That's true.
Question: Are you comfortable with that as a structure of the church?
Answer: As we speak about a spiritual reality, I have to be I have to accept that. That's a spiritual reality. The sacrament of confession is not meant to be a place of simple counseling where an individual would come to share their concern about an event that's happened. If they come to confession, it is presumed that they are coming because of remorse within their conscience and their desire, then, to make themselves right with God. And that remorse should be of such a degree that they would want to make things right, also, with the community, with those civil obligations.
Question: Do you know, Archbishop Sanchez, if any priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was absolved in the confession for sexually abusing children?
Answer: I have no knowledge of absolution of any person in the confessional, priest or laity. That is why the confessional is a closed quarter, and it's confidential to the person making the confession and to the confessor.
Question: Let me ask this, archbishop: Isn't it a fact that you have seen, over the last two years, people coming forward to whom this rape had happened in the '60s, in the '70s, who in fact did not report it to their parents then?
Answer: This is their statement, that they had not reported it to their parents. I cannot answer for them. But I can say that in families, in our Northern New Mexico families that you've been using as examples, those families are so closely knit and so close to one another that there is not only parents, but there's grandparents and uncles and aunts or brothers or sisters to whom they could very well relate this incident. I don't unless it's their own feeling of shame that would prohibit them from that. But it's not as though they are denied that because their parents might get mad at them or something of that nature.
Question: Can you appreciate that a child who was raped by a priest might feel shamed by that, might wonder why God had done that to them?
Answer: Yes, absolutely, yes. Yes, a child would certainly feel shamed.
Question: And then not report that because of those feelings of shame?
Answer: I don't know what their action or inaction would be, but the shame certainly would be there.
Question: Are you saying, archbishop, then, that it is not the responsibility of the confessor to report the priest-rapist, but it is the responsibility of the child who was raped to report the priest rapist?
Answer: I'm saying that the priest confessor cannot, in his conscience, report anything that he hears in confession because that is the teaching of the church and the promise that he has taken when he is granted the faculties to hear confessions, that he keeps absolutely secret all and everything that comes to him in the confession.
Question: Then do you see that if the child is too shamed or too afraid, then you have no mechanism in the church to report the misconduct at all?
Answer: The child is not denied an opportunity to report it to the child's family or to anyone else.
Question: Let me ask you this, archbishop: Are you comfortable with the situation of confessors knowing that their brother priests have raped children and not being able to report it themselves to civil authorities?
Answer: I'm not comfortable with any type of sin or abuse of other individuals, and I am not comfortable in knowing that priests have to hear the confessions of people and not been able to report anything. But I know that the people coming to that confessional are coming precisely because they know that Father is going to keep to his heart all that they confess. Because their confession pertains to themself and their God. The consequences of any action that people have committed has to be done outside of that confessional.
Question: And what you have described forgive me this afternoon is an example of a shroud of secrecy that has been imposed on child abuse by the church, isn't it?
Answer: No, it's not a shroud of child abuse.
Question: Shroud of secrecy.
Answer: Or a shroud of secrecy. It is an opportunity for people to make a confession without fear that that whatever they say in that confession is going to be revealed. That has been going on in the Roman Catholic Church for nearly 2,000 years and regardless of the kinds of sins that have been confessed. Many have been confessed which involved murders and all kinds of awful offenses against people. But at the same time, the integrity of confession must be maintained.
On reporting rape by priests
Question: OK. Now, you do believe, do you not, that the rape of a child by a priest should have civil consequences?
Answer: That's the law of the state.
Question: And were you to learn about the rape of a child in a setting that did not involve the confessional, do you feel that you would have a duty to report that rape?
Answer: The law of the state of New Mexico so states that. In a former deposition, you asked me that question. In fact, you asked when did you become aware of the statute. And I believe I mentioned to you that my awareness came when we were preparing the policy on sexual misconduct for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, which was promulgated on July 1, 1990. You indicated that the statute had become effective sometime in the 1970s. I was unaware of such a statute or even the date when it became effective. I'm not too certain how many people were aware of it in the '70s. It had not become a major issue among the legal profession or even among the teaching profession, people dealing with children, etc.
Question: Let me ask you this, archbishop: If you had received a letter from a parent where the child had, in fact, reported, and the parents said, "My child was raped by Father," would you have done anything about that in terms of revealing the incident to civil authorities?
Answer: I think the first thing I would have done would have been to meet with the family. The consequence for civil authorities would probably be made known to me by an attorney, because I would feel that that's something that I would need to have advice upon; and if that advice is given, I would ask the attorney to make it known or perhaps the parents.
Question: Well, putting aside the statutory obligation of reporting that the state of New Mexico may or may not have imposed on you, did you not feel a moral obligation to report a priest in your charge who had raped a child?
Answer: In some instances, Mr. Pasternack, in dealing with families, the family themselves would indicate that they wanted this kept very quiet. The child, as well, wanted it kept quiet and wanted us to deal with it as best we could that way. They did not want publicity. I did not speak about the legal authorities. But their own insistence seemed to have been that they simply did not want a lot of talk or publicity or to-do about which they were speaking.
Question: Forgive me, sir, but wasn't it your policy to, in fact, communicate to the families that this was a matter that should be kept within the church and not discussed with civil authorities?
Answer: No, it was not our policy that we had to keep this within the church. We never insisted that way. If any parent felt that they wanted to go to civil authorities, they had a right to go to civil authorities.
Question: So is it your belief that children without education, without maturity, are more capable of coming forward to reveal sexual misconduct than an archbishop with a wonderful education and maturity?
Answer: A child, it seems to me, if they have felt hurt by anyone, as they frequently are hurt, would share that hurt with parents. That has simply been an assumption in my mind. I don't believe it's a question of having more education or greater formation to be able to share a hurt that a person has suffered within themselves. I'm not an expert in that field, nor do I claim to be or ever have claimed to be such an expert. I certainly would listen to psychiatrists or psychologists who are skilled in sexual abuse of children, and they certainly could instruct me. They can instruct us all. ... As I said previously, Mr. Pasternack, it seems to me it seemed to me then, that in dealing with a specific allegation, I did not feel a responsibility, was not aware of such to go back to other parishes or to make public announcements, because I felt that if any child or additional child had been violated, that they would come forward.
On warning parishioners about priest molestation
Question: When Father Esquivel left his Los Lunas parish assignment, what, if anything, did you tell the people at the Los Lunas parish about the reason for his departure?
Answer: That he was that he had departed from the parish for treatment.
Question: Of ?
Answer: No specific reason was given. It is not the habit of our church to make public the weakness of any individual and say that someone is going away for alcoholism or going away for this or going away for that. He was going away for treatment at a center and asked for prayers for his success, his well-being.
Question: Did you feel any canonical or moral responsibility to advise the parishioners at his Los Lunas parish that you felt he had been a child molester?
Answer: My main concern with any allegation that is brought to me that if a priest is being accused of misconduct is to confront that priest and to remove him from the situation immediately. And I was able to do that in this case successfully and did not feel an obligation, then, to explain to the people in general the reasons for his departure.
Question: Weren't you concerned, archbishop, that there could be other victims?
Answer: There is concern. Again, as I have mentioned, parishes have a way of speaking to another and of letting any type of abuse be known. It wasn't as though they were going to keep it secret. His departure, I am sure, caused a lot of talk among the parishioners themselves, and it is simply not our tradition to make obvious statements to people about an individual, because of the situation within the parish itself. Parishioners begin to become suspicious of one another. It can become a divisive issue. They begin to wonder, "Well, who caused this, and what's involved?" So I have not made it a practice to announce to parishioners the reason for any transfer of any priest.
Question: But is it your position, sir, that it should not have been announced from the pulpit that, "We have removed this man from your midst because we believe he's a child molester?"
Answer: That's right, sir, and I will explain briefly. In our own moral theology, about which we spoke at length yesterday, calumny (slander) is considered a sin. That's detraction of a person, spreading false rumors about an individual. But likewise, detraction from a person is also respected, that gossip is oftentimes turned and twisted so that a person's reputation is totally destroyed. But not only the gossip against a perpetrator, but gossip against people, against other children. It becomes an opportunity to offend one another when that need not happen. So the church has not taken the position in fact, has cautioned that any investigation that is done should be done discreetly so as to preserve the rights of individuals and their own anonymity and their own preference to come forward as they choose.
Question: Are you saying, sir, that calumny (slander) is a bigger sin than raping a child?
Answer: No, sir, I'm not saying that at all.
Question: Since Father (Sabine) Griego had admitted to you abusing a child or children, would it have still been calumny to inform the parish that he was a confessed child molester?
Answer: The incident referred to by this family, the Price family, went back many years. It was not something a recent occurrence. To mention this publicly to the parish, again, would be in a sense calumnizing the parish, involving them, wondering whether this person or that person or the other person, and gossip to spread. And I think that harm is done to one another rather than good. The man had not nothing had come forth from the parish at all regarding this priest for 10 years of service. I had no reason to believe that he had in any way victimized anybody during those 10 years in that parish, and this allegation that these folks brought to my attention went back to a situation that was many years prior.
Question: Did it occur to you that someone who abuses one child may abuse others?
Answer: That's always a possibility. But once again, I would simply reiterate that no statement, no allegation had come to me from anyone in that parish in those 10 years. The people living in Albuquerque are sophisticated. They certainly would not hesitate to call or to write if they felt something had occurred which was improper.
Question: Did you feel a moral or canonical responsibility on behalf of the Catholic people to ask Father Griego whether he had done this to anyone else?
Answer: It simply did not occur to me.
Question: Did it occur to you that perhaps Father Griego, like you, did not want to discuss his sexual activities because of his feelings of shame and guilt and hypocrisy?
Answer: I was not judging him what his feelings may or may not have been. My concern was to place him in the hands of professionals where whatever had occurred in his life could be addressed and addressed properly.
Question: What I'm asking, archbishop, is, you knew you knew well that a priest who sexually offends tends to hide that. And with that knowledge, why did you not seek to draw out of him information that could help the people?
Answer: I suppose, Mr. Pasternack, it's because I don't have a suspicious nature. I am not one who is an investigator of that nature. I'm not an investigator by nature. I know that is part and parcel of your office and of many other people, but I don't do that simply by nature.
Question: Now, if I recall your testimony about Sabine Griego correctly, when he was basically found out for being a child molester in 1991, you did not put out similar word to the parish at Queen of Heaven. And the obvious question is, why not?
Answer: First of all, it didn't occur to me. And the question is, then, why didn't it occur to me. And I think that in my own mind that we were talking about an event, an issue, that had occurred some 12 or 14 years before that time. In other words, it was not a current issue. ...
Question: After you were convinced that Father (Clive) Lynn had sexually molested boys in Raton, did you make any efforts to communicate with the people in the prior parishes where he had served, either Mora or St. Therese, to find out whether any boys had been molested by him there?
Answer: No, sir, I did not.
Question: And did you not feel the responsibility as archbishop to make such an inquiry and thereby help these children, if they existed?
Answer: Making an inquiry of that nature simply did not occur to me.
Question: Would that have been calumny?
Answer: No, I'm not thinking of that. It just did not occur to me to go back to other parishes and make similar inquiries. It had not been our practice, and so it simply did not come to my mind.
On child molestation
Question: Did you know that what Jason Sigler did to the children of your parishioners was a crime?
Answer: I did not know it was a crime, sir.
Question: So you did not feel, in your own heart of hearts in 1981, that the sexual molestation of a child was a crime?
Answer: Sir, in 1981, I did not understand that to be a crime. I considered it to be a moral infraction of his own life, and it was an offense against a child.
On the vows of priesthood
Question: And at the time you made that decision (to become a priest) and commitment in 1959, did you feel that you could keep your promise of chastity and celibacy?
Answer: I did, sir. The church and its structure at the time was very strong. I had been in the seminarian formation for a number of years, as I have indicated, and I had no reason to believe that I would not be able to be a good priest. I also knew that coming back to America would pose many challenges, because the temple of America simply was not the temple of Europe that I had lived in for six years as a seminarian to study (in Rome).
On informing parents of allegedly molested children
Question: Archbishop Sanchez, at the time that you sent the Jan. 26, 1982, letter to Jason Sigler expressing your gratitude for his eight years of service and thanking him for his ministry in the archdiocese, did you, on or about that time or at any time after he molested children at St. Therese Parish, send any letters of support and comfort to the parents of the children whom he had molested at that parish?
Answer: No, sir. I do not recall having done anything of that nature.
Question: Did you ever meet with those parents personally?
Answer: I do not recall any special meeting with the parents.
Question: Why not?
Answer: No meeting was requested of me. Without that incentive, it did not occur to me that a meeting was necessary or needed to take place. The people who deal with our parishioners on a daily basis are normally our pastors, the pastors of each parish. They are the representatives of our church, of the archdiocese, and it's normally their duty to be able to bring comfort to everyone and anyone who seeks that from them in whatever capacity. On very rare occasions, do people come to me directly for that type of personal comfort. If it is requested, I certainly receive them.
On Sanchez's own sexual activity
Question: (By attorney Merit Bennett) Archbishop, with respect to Ms. A, I believe you had indicated that you had had sexual contact with Ms. A?
Answer: Yes, I indicated that there had been an embrace.
Question: And what I wanted to ask you is, at the time that embrace took place, how old was Ms. A?
Answer: I don't recall. I never asked her her age.
Question: What would be your best estimate?
Answer: Probably around I would say about 20.
Question: And how old were you at the time?
Answer: I must have been around 36, 37.
Question: With respect to Ms. B, when the first incident of sexual contact occurred with Ms. B, how old was Ms. B, to the best of your knowledge?
Answer: Probably 23.
Question: And how old were you at that time?
Answer: I would have been about 48.
Question: And subsequent to that, was there sexual contact between you two?
Answer: You mean later?
Answer: It occurred within any sexual contact that occurred between us occurred within a year's period.
Question: With respect to Ms. D, you indicated that there had been embraces; is that correct?
Answer: Not of a sexual nature.
Question: What about Ms. E was a sexual contact; is that correct?
Answer: It was an embrace with her, also, yes.
Question: And a kiss, I believe?
Answer: Yes, excuse me.
Question: And at the time that that sexual contact took place, how old was Ms. E, to the best of your knowledge?
Answer: To the best of my knowledge and recollection, Ms. E would have been, I suppose, around the same age, I believe, 21, in college, in college. In fact, I recall she was in college.
Question: And how old were you at the time?
Answer: About 44.
Question: Was there any sexual contact between you and Ms. F?
Answer: Not sexual contact, as such.
Question: There was more than one kiss, I believe you referred to?
Question: At the time that the kissing occurred, how old was Ms. F?
Answer: I would say approximately 24.
Question: And you were --?
Answer: About 55, I think it was.
Question: And the sexual contact with Ms. G, this took place over a period of time, that's my understanding; is that correct?
Answer: No. The friendship was a long friendship, but the sexual contact was not.
Question: Over what period of time did the sexual contact occur? ... In terms of time span.
Answer: Within all within a year's period.
Question: And during that time, how old was Ms. G, to the best of your knowledge?
Answer: About 28, 29.
Question: And you were --?
Answer: About 55, I guess.
Question: And with Ms. I, when did that contact with Ms. I occur, in terms of her age; how old was she?
Answer: She was about 19 or 20.
Question: And you were --?
Question: And Ms. J, how old was Ms. J when that contact occurred?
Answer: Just about the same age.
Question: 19 or 20?
Question: And you were --?
Answer: Same age, about 41.
Question: And with Ms. K, was that contact over a period of time?
Answer: Within a year's time.
Question: And how old would Ms. K have been?
Answer: At that time, I suppose about 20, 21.
Question: And you?
Answer: About 41, 42.
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