Ayala: Archdiocese of San Antonio plans to update its clergy abuse list
By Elaine Ayala
San Antonio Express-News via lmtonline.com
February 06, 2021
Two years ago, when Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller released a landmark list of priests credibly accused of sexually assaulting and abusing children, he said that apologizing once wouldn’t suffice.
Two years after that defining moment, his words torment survivors of crimes that amounted to rape.
None of the cases might have resulted in imprisonment, but they embroiled the Catholic Church in a global cover-up and scandal.
Survivors involved in SNAP San Antonio, a chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say the archdiocese hasn’t been forthcoming since.
Instead, they say the archdiocese has been managing the fallout and liability.
This week, the Archdiocese of San Antonio said in a statement that it plans to update its 2019 list.
Its statement didn’t say when or how the archdiocese plans to release new or updated information on credibly accused priests.
The archdiocese also didn’t say whether the new information would be delivered online or would be made public by the archbishop himself, as he did in 2019.
Requests for interviews with the archbishop or other archdiocesan officials were denied.
The archdiocese’s written statement said, “approximately 25 new reports have been made since the publication of the 2019 Report on Child Sexual Abuse by Clergy in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.”
Abuse survivors “did not identify any clergy not already named in the report, and involved either clergy who were already named in the report or clergy whose identities were unable to be established.”
The archdiocese and its lay-led Archdiocesan Review Board, in existence before the 2019 list was released, “is in the process of preparing an update to the 2019 report that will retain the same general format and level of detail.”
The statement downplayed liability, saying the archdiocese doesn’t “believe, in most cases, that the people of our parishes today should be responsible for financial judgments or settlements related to these reports of past abuse, (but) we have come together as a Church to offer counseling and pastoral support to all those who have brought forward allegations.”
One San Antonio survivor said this week she hasn’t been able to see her therapist, because the archdiocese has refused to continue paying for the therapy after vowing to do so in writing.
The archdiocese’s statement said that since 2019 it has helped 18 people with counseling or therapy and paid out $25,000 in legal settlements “in situations where, under legal advice, this seemed appropriate.”
At the same time, it surpassed its $60 million capital campaign goal, which will build new parishes and repair old ones. Over the years, the archdiocese also has closed schools and either closed or merged parishes.
Because I asked about a survivor who’d asked to meet with García-Siller, without success, the statement said the archbishop has met with several survivors and remains open to such encounters.
But only those “not threatening civil litigation and (who) are not communicating with us through legal counsel,” the statement said.
The 2019 report named 54 priests involving about 150 cases dating to 1941.
Zac Zepeda, co-leader of SNAP San Antonio, who was sexually assaulted at age 12 by a priest at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, said the archdiocese has been soft-pedaling the crisis and devoting less time to survivors’ healing.
He’s a deacon at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Helotes and he has served on the same altar with García-Siller, he said.
Steve Bartley, another survivor, said religious orders have behaved the same way, including the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Some of its members worked in local Catholic schools. The order also operates the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.
Bartley was in an archdiocesan high school when he was sexually assaulted by Galeb Mokarzel, an Oblate priest named on the list.
The order has paid for his counseling. “I heard nothing from the archdiocese,” Bartley added.
He and other survivors say Catholic leaders are in a hurry to move on and “wash their hands of it.”
While more accused priests die in solitude, their victims continue to experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Many are in their 70s.
Sometimes new pain is layered onto the old.
When Bartley, a retired law enforcement investigator, was getting compensated by the Oblates, he was told assistant treasurer Father Rocky Grimard would process payment.
Bartley googled him. He found that in 2015, Grimard was arrested and charged for indecent exposure and soliciting sex from two undercover officers. He got six months’ probation.