Bishop Accountability


Credibly Accused Priests: 44 (23 diocesan, 14 extern, 7 reigious order; of the 23 diocesan, 17 were ordained in Santa Fe and 6 were ordained elsewhere but later incardinated in Santa Fe; 2 credibly accused deacons are not included in this count of 44)
Total Priests: NA
Received Counseling: 193 (not clear whether this figure includes accused priests; it presumably does not include all victims who have come forward)
Cost: $30,800,000 (of which $25,300,000 in settlements, $4,700,000 in attorney fees and investigation costs, and $1,100,000 in counseling)
Sources of Funds: the $25,300,000 in settlements came from two sources - $7,700,000 from the Archdiocese and $17,600,000 from insurers

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Archbishop Michael Sheehan. The June 2002 database examined the records of bishops and identified those who had allowed accused priests to continue working or had otherwise protected priests accused of sexual abuse. The database is relevant to the bishops' "Nature and Scope" study because the bishops who prepared the surveys for the study are in many cases responsible for the "scope" of the problem.

Report on the Archdiocese’s Compliance and Implementation
of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People


My Dear People,

As we begin a new year, I want to bring you all up to date on several issues.

On December 20, 2003, Bishop Thomas Olmsted was installed as Bishop of Phoenix. With his installation my duties and responsibilities as Apostolic Administrator ceased. It has been a challenge keeping two very busy Dioceses on course but with God’s grace all things are possible.

Last July, two auditors (retired FBI Agents) were assigned by the Gavin Group to perform an audit to see if the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was in compliance with the Charter that had been approved at the June 2002 Bishops’ meeting in Dallas (all Dioceses are being audited). After spending the week in the Archdiocese reviewing files and records and meeting with clergy, laity and Diocesan staff we were given two commendations, one for an excellent communications policy that reflects a commitment to transparency and openness and a second for ongoing demonstrated commitment to developing educational programs and workshops to ensure that acts of sexual misconduct will not occur. Several recommendations were made which were immediately attended to and on July 22, 2003 we received a letter notifying us that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was in complete compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth.

In addition to the audit, very extensive research was completed on each perpetrator and victim from 1950 to 2002. This study was developed by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York at the direction of the National Review Board. That was a monumental task. Our number of perpetrators was high, due in part, to priests who had come to the Archdiocese for treatment at Jemez Springs. While the Paraclete Fathers provided a needed ministry to men who had deviated from their commitment, in all honesty little was known about pedophilia and how best to treat it. On the advice of psychologists at Jemez Springs, men were often returned to ministry. Today, we know that that should never have happened.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe took seriously guidelines from the Bishops’ Conference in the early 1990's. All priests and deacons with credible allegations of sexual misconduct have long been removed from ministry. Thousands of priests, religious, laity, paid staff, volunteers, and parents have participated in our Sexual Abuse Prevention Workshops. Safe Environment Programs for Children and Youth are in place. Background checks of employees and volunteers are in compliance with the Charter and our Permanent Review Board continues to be made up of qualified and capable people. We have provided counseling to victims and as an Archdiocese we have twice participated in the RENEW Program which focused on healing and reconciliation.

At the Bishops’ meeting last November, it was reported that on January 6, 2004 the Audit Report and in February the John Jay Report will be made public. The John Jay study gathered information from all the U.S. Dioceses. The names of the Dioceses, perpetrator, and victims will be anonymous in the report, however, the information may be startling to many. But keep in mind that no other professional group, that is attorneys, doctors etc. have ever been so carefully scrutinized nor has there ever been such a thorough study been conducted on priests in the United States, or elsewhere.

Here in the Archdiocese, over the past 50 years, a total of 44 priests and two Deacons had credible allegations made against them prior to 2002. Twenty-three were priests of the Archdiocese (of the twenty-three, seventeen were ordained for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Six were ordained for other dioceses, but later were incardinated into the Archdiocese of Santa Fe). Of the twenty-three, nine are now deceased. Fourteen were priests from other Dioceses and 7 were Religious Order priests. None of these priests or Deacons are in active ministry today. A total of $25,300,000 has been paid in settlements as a result of sexual abuse of minors; $7,700,000 was paid directly by the Archdiocese and $17,600,000 by our insurance carriers. An additional $4,700,000 has been paid in attorney fees, and investigations costs. One hundred ninety three (193) individuals have received counseling totaling $1,100,000. We used funds mostly from the sale of property and special grants, not from ACA or parish assessments. These are staggering figures, but because everyone worked together, we were able to do our part to resolve this terrible situation and avoid bankruptcy.

We have come a long way. Our evangelization efforts continue. Our numbers of registered parishioners have grown over the last ten years, by thirty thousand families. I’ve ordained 30 men to the priesthood and 21 are currently studying for the priesthood. Five new churches have been built, and I’ve recently announced a proposed new Regional School in Santa Fe which hopefully will be completed in the next three years.

Let us continue in our resolve. Even one case of abuse of a child is a tragedy and this must not happen again. We are resolved to provide a place where children will be safe. Let us also take steps in our homes, in the workplace, everywhere to assure safety for all and an end to all abuses.

Sincerely Yours in the Risen Lord,
Most Reverend Michael J. Sheehan
Archbishop of Santa Fe



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