Diocesan Leader Reveals Ex-Pastor Had Sex Therapy; Behavior Problems Treated before Valley Stints

By Michael Clancy
Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
August 1, 2003

A former Phoenix pastor accused in a lawsuit of assaulting a youth received treatment at a New Mexico facility known for treating sexual-behavior problems before he returned to serve the Phoenix Diocese at three predominantly Hispanic parishes.

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, head of the Santa Fe Archdiocese and temporary leader of the Phoenix Diocese, revealed Thursday that the Rev. Saul Madrid was sent for treatment 15 years ago.

During the interview, Sheehan also said he has begun meeting with local victims of sexual abuse.

Madrid, who is no longer serving the diocese but is living in the Valley, and Monsignor Richard Moyer and other church officials are named in a lawsuit against the diocese filed June 20 by Victor DiGiovine. DiGiovine accuses Madrid of drugging and sexually assaulting him in 1987 while Madrid was an associate pastor at SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix.

Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, now retired, sent Madrid to Jemez Springs for treatment in 1988, Sheehan said. After treatment, "the psychologists said he could be placed again in ministry," he said.

Madrid became associate pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tempe and pastor at St. Henry in Buckeye and St. Anthony and Immaculate Heart, both in Phoenix. The latter three primarily serve Hispanic parishioners.

Neither Madrid nor his attorney, the Rev. David Myers, were available Thursday for comment. Prior to the lawsuit's filing, Madrid had not been publicly accused of sexual abuse.

A native of Mexico, Madrid resigned in 2000, citing health reasons. He quit after a mysterious fire at Immaculate Heart and after he allowed pornographic scenes for a movie to be filmed at St. Anthony.

Sheehan said lawsuits only reflect one side of a story. He said Moyer, who in 1987 was serving O'Brien as vicar general, maintains he acted appropriately in the DiGiovine case.

"I believe good-faith efforts were made by some of those named," Sheehan said.

In early June, O'Brien appointed Moyer as moderator of the Curia, specifically to oversee the diocese's handling of sex-abuse cases. Sheehan said he sees no reason why Moyer shouldn't continue in that capacity.

As interim administrator, Sheehan said he would make no administrative changes unless the matter was urgent.

Sheehan said he has spoken with seven abuse victims so far. He said he has apologized to them, encouraged them, asked them about counseling and shared his hopes for their "spiritual recovery."

Paul Pfaffenberger, president of the local chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said he met Wednesday with Jennifer O'Connor, the diocese's youth protection advocate, and was pleased with the meeting.

He said SNAP members have been most encouraged by Sheehan's order to remove the name of the late Rev. John Doran from a church hall after Doran was accused last year of sexual misconduct in a 1963 incident.

On other topics, Sheehan said that despite a "cash-flow problem" stemming from new building projects throughout the diocese, the local church is in good shape financially.

He said some building projects -- notably, permanent buildings at two new parishes and one that is moving -- have been delayed as have several school improvement projects.

Collections at churches are "flat," he said, but the annual Charity and Development Appeal set a new record. An annual audit will take place soon for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and it will be made public when finished.

He said insurance settlements have covered much of the diocese's legal costs and will pay for the defense of O'Brien, who stands accused of a felony for leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident.

O'Brien may remain in the home in north-central Phoenix he has occupied since he became bishop, at least until a new bishop decides otherwise.


On other subjects:

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan addressed several subjects in an hourlong interview Thursday. Among them:

* On national studies: Sheehan said he will make public the Phoenix responses to national studies on the sexual-abuse crisis when the studies, commissioned by the U.S. bishops conference, come out near year's end.

* On lay participation: He praised lay participation in church affairs and says he is willing to meet with Voice of the Faithful, the organization formed in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal. He said he has met with the diocese's finance board and will meet with the pastoral council.

* On a new bishop: A search for a new bishop is under way. He said the individual chosen will not be from the Phoenix Diocese and will already be a bishop. "You can put money on that," he said.

* On the future: Sheehan sees "renewed hope, a sense of restoring some trust" through his discussions with church members and employees and from letters. "I see a lot of good things happening," he said. "God can write straight out of crooked lines."


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