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Archdiocese of Santa Fe Releases Names of 74 Accused Priests.
Following years of criticism, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has released the names of 74 priests and religious leaders who were accused or later found guilty of sexually abusing children by state or church authorities.
Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester announced the release of the names Tuesday in a letter to parishioners after decades of pressure from victims and their family members who wanted a complete list. Some of the names of accused priests on the list had been known for years while others had been secret.
Also listed were priests and religious leaders who were publicly accused but whose criminal or canonical proceedings weren’t completed. In most cases, those accused priests died before the allegations were received, Wester said.
The Catholic Church keeps much of its Canon law proceedings secret. Wester told parishioners the archdiocese needed to publicly acknowledge and identify clergy and religious leaders accused of perpetrating child sexual abuse within the one of the nation’s oldest archdiocese.
“We must practice openness and transparency whenever possible, as this is essential for rebuilding trust and healing wounds,” Wester wrote. “While many of the accused names have already been made public or have been identified elsewhere, this is the first time the archdiocese has published such a list.”
The list does not provide details of the crimes or the convictions.
Among those on the list was Rev. John George Weisenborn. In 2012, an Albuquerque man settled a suit he filed against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and a Catholic ministry group that helps troubled priests over molestation he claims he suffered at the hands of Weisenborn beginning in the mid-1960s.
The man alleged Weisenborn sexually molested him when he was a seventh-grade altar boy at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Albuquerque beginning in 1966 or 1967.
In the 1970s, the Servants introduced professional therapy, and gradually the facility treated an increasing number of priestly molesters.
Abuse cases for years were kept secret in the state until sex abuse scandals by priests exploded in New Mexico in the early 1990s under former Santa Fe Archbishop Robert Fortune Sanchez.
Sanchez resigned in 1993 after three women accused him of being sexually involved with them in the 1970s and early 1980s when they were teenagers. Critics complained that Sanchez didn’t do enough to discipline priests who were accused of sexual misconduct and ignored pleas for help from victims.