Opinion: Catholic church’s handling of abuse cases betrays core values

San Jose Mercury-News

January 31, 2020

Vatican needs to cede oversight and investigation over these claims to an independent, secular body

By John Salberg

I applaud California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for his decision to investigate the Catholic Church in California (State opens investigation into San Jose, Oakland Dioceses’ handling of sex abuse allegations). I am a clergy abuse survivor and still a practicing Catholic, but I have been fighting for this type of investigation for more than 20 years.

As a child, I suffered abuse at the hands of Father Joseph Pritchard, formerly of Saint Martin of Tours Parish. My case was first reported to the San Jose diocese by Monsignor Michael McKiernan in 2000. After the report, Linda Bearie and Monsignor Michael Mitchell, Diocesan Chancellor and Vicar General, respectively, met with me. To my shock, neither recorded anything during the meeting, rebuffed my plea for church-funded counseling and never followed up with me. I never heard from them again.

In March 2002, The Mercury News interviewed Patrick McGrath, then Bishop of San Jose. Claiming complete transparency, he was adamant that he knew of only two reported incidents of clergy sexual abuse. There was no mention of my case.

On April 25, 2002, I came forward with my story and the cover up by the diocese.

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