DIOCESE OF GALLUP NM
To the Priests, Deacons, Men and Women Religious, Lay Ministers and all the Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Gallup,
+November 30, 2003
My Dear Friends in Christ,
Having recently returned from the Fall meeting of the United States Catholic Conference in Washington, D.C. I am once again very much aware of the pain and suffering the sexual abuse crisis has caused. Each of us has been touched by this tragedy in his or her own way. I am particularly mindful of the victims. I am truly grieved by the harm done to children by the actions of some priests and unfortunate decisions made by some bishops.
As much as all of us would like to put this behind us, the healing process and the development of policies and procedures to prevent it in the future require more attention. We have publicly committed ourselves not to return to “business as usual” but to make every effort to reform and move forward. I, as your bishop, commit myself and my staff to transparency and to the protection of all our children and youth.
As you know, the Bishops of the United States approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth and the associated Norms at their meeting in Dallas, Texas in June 2002. The Charter and Norms were subsequently approved by the Holy See for the 194 dioceses of the United States effective July 1, 2003. One of the requirements of the Charter was to conduct a study of the sexual abuse crisis over the last fifty years. It is hoped that this study will assist the Church to develop ways to deal effectively with this issue from now on.
The results of the study done by The John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York are due to be completed and released in late February and probably will produce “startling” numbers for the U.S. Church. The John Jay study has no intention to give specific information about individual dioceses. Accordingly, I feel the need to provide the statistics reported by the Diocese of Gallup for this study. I am asking all of our pastors to share this information with all of our people in an appropriate manner.
Of the 494 bishops, priests and permanent deacons that are known to have served in the Diocese of Gallup from 1950 to 2002, there were 8 known individuals who had credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors made against them. This translates to 1.6% of all clergy who served in the Diocese of Gallup were accused of sexual misconduct with juveniles. In this same period of time there was a total of 11 known victims. A total of $190,000 has been paid in settlements as a result of sexual abuse of minors with $15,000 paid directly by the diocese, $40,000.00 by our insurance carrier and $135,000.00 by the associated local institute, St. Bonaventur Indian School in Thoreau, NM. None of the money paid by the diocese came from our parishes and missions, nor were any services or programs curtailed as a result. As you process these numbers, please keep in mind that from 1939 to 1969, before the creation of the Diocese of Phoenix, all of Northern Arizona was part of the Diocese of Gallup. This included all of Coconino, Mohave and Yavapai counties as well as all of Navajo and Apache counties which are still part of the Diocese. The New Mexico portion of the Diocese of Gallup has remained unchanged since the establishment of the Diocese in 1939.
Even one single case of sexual abuse of a child is a tragedy. Nonetheless, I submit to you that during the same period of time many dedicated men and women – clergy, religious and lay – have contributed significantly to the increase of the human condition and the improvement of human dignity in the name of Christ - in the name of the Catholic Church in Northeastern Arizona and Northwestern New Mexico. This has been accomplished through our parishes, missions, schools and charitable agencies. Countless men, women and children have been fed, clothed, cared for when sick, consoled when sorrowful, educated, heard the Good News and nourished by the Sacraments. St. Katharine Drexel and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta personally established ministries of charity here for our people. In 2002, our annual budget for Catholic Charities was $931,000.00. The total budget for the 12 schools for the 2002-2003 school year was $5,707,000.00. 451 new people were received into the Church in this diocese through R.C.I.A. in 2002.
We currently have 4 seminarians, 8 deacon candidates and 7 lay ministry students. In 2003 alone, 4 new permanent deacons were ordained for service to the Church. Since 2001 we have dedicated two new churches and re-dedicated one remodeled church. In 2002 1,165 people participated in the Disciples in Mission Evangelization Initiative. Clearly, the Catholic Faith is alive and vibrant in our local Church, the Diocese of Gallup. The good does not make up for the bad, but neither does the bad wipe out the good. The Apostles fulfilled their mission despite their own human weaknesses.
The support of the Catholic lay faithful for the Church and especially for our dedicated, loving and devoted priests has been overwhelming. I applaud and thank you all for this. I ask each and every one of you to join me in prayer and thanksgiving for our priests. I also ask you to join me in prayer as we commit ourselves to the protection of all vulnerable people in our midst, especially our children.
Fraternally in Christ,
This letter is to be made available to the people of the Diocese of Gallup
the weekend of November 29-30, 2003 – The First Sunday in Advent.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.