SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said he is fasting and praying for the victims and for God’s forgiveness in the wake of the release last week of the explosive grand jury report in Pennsylvania.
The report alleges 1,000 children were sexually abused by 300 priests over seven decades.
Jordan McMorrough, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, said the archbishop discussed the ongoing scandal during the liturgy at each of the four parishes where he celebrated Mass over the weekend.
“The archbishop spoke of the sense of shame that these horrific acts have been perpetrated by clergy and hierarchy,” McMorrough said.
“We are working to ensure that these crimes are never committed again,” the archbishop said, stressing “victims first.”
McMorrough said the archbishop also strongly encouraged victims and anyone with knowledge of incidents involving sexual abuse to call police.
The archdiocese also has an Office of Victim Assistance and Safe Environment that was created as an initial point of contact, and procedures for how to report clergy abuse.
“The Catholic Church has shown us over 30 years that they can’t police themselves, and the last thing you want to do is go to the church,” said Mike Norris, a national board member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
Abused at age 10 at a church camp, Norris is now an engineer in Houston. He said the church did little to help in his situation.
Norris said Kentucky State Police only had his word against that of a priest who wasn’t cooperating in the investigation. He said that, several years later, another victim of the same priest at the same camp stepped forward.
Norris said that, because there is no statute of limitations in Kentucky, the priest was sentenced to seven years in his case and then pleaded guilty to the second case.
In a statement after the Pennsylvania report was issued, the Archdiocese of San Antonio said that, since 2002, when the U.S. Conference of Bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, two local priests have been accused of sexual abuse. Both served jail time.
The statement said: “No priests of the Archdiocese of San Antonio against whom a single verifiable allegation has ever been made, are serving in the ministry anywhere.”
Norris said he remains skeptical of such claims. He urges anyone whose memories have been triggered by the Pennsylvania scandal to call the national SNAP hotline at 877-762-7432.