Gallup Diocese Checks Backgrounds on Priests

May 13, 2009

[with video]

Checks Prompted After Past Allegations Of Cuba Priest

GALLUP, N.M. -- The Catholic Church launches a new probe into the backgrounds of 400 New Mexico priests.

The Diocese of Gallup said it wants to know whether any of its clergy, might have a history of sexual abuse.

Bishop James Wall called for the evaluation of those serving the Diocese of Gallup.

Priests who are serving or have served will go through a complete background check.

If any wrong doing is exposed, the diocese said that priest will be removed and there will a full explanation as to why.

"First and foremost, I wanted to say thank you to the lord for calling me to this ministry," Wall said.

New to his post in Gallup, the bishop took a bold step calling for a review of all priests active, retired, formerly served or deceased.

The review was prompted by an investigation into Father John Boland -- a priest at a Cuba church.

The diocese said Boland was accused of child sexual abuse in 1983 while a priest in Arizona.

Those charges were reportedly dropped and Boland later came to Cuba. But the allegation was buried in his file and the diocese of Gallup said it wasn't fully aware.

Boland has since been put on administrative leave, pending an investigation.

"I plan to get out to all the parishes," Wall said.

Wanting to avoid another surprise Wall said he wants all files reviewed and any credible and verifiable accusations of child sexual abuse investigated.

"There needs to be accountability because of the horrendous crime that being committed against children and vulnerable youth," said sexual abuse advocate Steve Rabi.

Rabi said he's a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and is an advocate for others who have experienced the same.

Rabi said this inquiry is necessary and hopes Wall will remove any priests guilty of any wrongdoing.

"I think it's a step, a positive step in the right direction and I can only hope and pray, he will follow through," Rabi said.

The diocese said this review is a way to restore confidence in the faithful and to reaffirm the integrity of priests in good standing with the diocese.

Officials said it is not a witch hunt.

The dioceses said it's only a third of the way through the records of active priests.

The findings will be released in the fall.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.