Former Santa Fe Archbishop Dies

January 21, 2012

[with video]

SANTA FE -- New Mexicans had mixed reactions on Friday upon learning of a former Santa Fe archbishop's death.

Archbishop Robert Sanchez led the Santa Fe Archdiocese for nearly two decades.

Sanchez was forced to resign in 1993 after word leaked he was not only having relationships with women, but that more and more priests under his watch were being accused of horrific sex crimes against children.

"Whenever something from the abuse age comes back up again, it's repeated hurt for people that were victimized," said Mike Mellinger, the head of the local chapter of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Once gone from the archdiocese, Sanchez surfaced again in the Midwest and then, with the church's blessing, in Alaska.

"We're still waiting for church officials in New Mexico and Alaska to offer an explanation and apology to their flocks in both states for that," Mellinger.

Some New Mexico Catholics said they long ago forgave Sanchez.

On KOAT's Facebook page, messages of support and condolences poured in for his family.

Before the scandals, Sanchez was popular in the state. He was the first Hispanic bishop in the country and was known for reaching out to Native American tribes.

Current Archbishop Michael Sheehan removed about 20 priests suspected of abuse.

In a statement on Friday, he said, "We continue to acknowledge the good (Sanchez) did and are aware of his human failings and mourn his death today."


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