Padre Don't Preach

San Antonio Current
March 4, 2009

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been stepping up its efforts to expose what it says is a Texas pattern of coddling credibly accused sex offenders. Last week, the local chapter attempted to hand-deliver a letter of complaint to San Antonio Catholic Archbishop Josť Gomez urging him to explain why two accused sex offenders are in his archdiocese and disclose the names and whereabouts of any other alleged child-molesting clergymen in the area.

San Antonio SNAP Director Barbara Garcia-Boehland says the archdiocese knows of some 20 alleged offenders.

"What [the Church] will tell you is that some of the 20 have been moved and no longer work in San Antonio," said Garcia Boehland. "Well why aren't they in jail or being tracked?"

Deacon Pat Rodgers, communications director for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, says the 20-odd names are a historical list of all "credible" allegations since 1950 that the Church compiled as part of national research directed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "None of them are in the ministry," said Rodgers.

SNAP has asked the archdiocese to take further action in two specific cases. Brother Richard Suttle, who was ousted last year from an Arizona elementary school, now lives at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in downtown San Antonio. And long-time St. Mary's University professor Father Charles Miller was suspended last year for molesting a teenaged girl in San Antonio in 1980, yet received a transfer of sorts to Rome.

Rodgers says that Miller and Suttle are under the jurisdictions of their orders, with no current connection to the San Antonio Archdiocese.

But SNAP says that Gomez and Rodgers are "splitting hairs." Garcia-Boehland argues that Catholic canon law holds that each bishop is responsible for the well-being of every Catholic in his diocese, and she questions why Gomez didn't make the matters public record once he knew the allegations were credible. "It's just very scary that these people are allowed to run around here in Texas."


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