BISHOP’S STATEMENT ON SEXUAL ABUSE
On Jan. 31, the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo released the names of all clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor during their time serving the diocese.
The Diocese of San Angelo was created in 1961. From its foundation until today, there have been a total of 445 priests and 147 permanent deacons who have served in this diocese. Of those 592 clerics who served in this diocese since 1961, 13 have had credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Of these:
• 4 were priests of the Diocese of San Angelo;
• 8 were priests from other dioceses or religious orders ministering in the diocese;
• 1 was a permanent deacon.
The four Abilene priests named are:
► Rev. Miguez Esquivel – Served at St. Francis and Sacred Heart, Sts. Joachim and Ann in Clyde (a mission of Sacred Heart in Abilene) and other locations; removed from ministry in May 2002.
► Rev. John Fernz – Served at Sacred Heart, Sts. Joachim and Ann in Clyde and in San Angelo; removed from ministry in April 1987; deceased.
► Rev. David Holley – Served at Holy Family, Sacred Heart and St. Francis and Sts. Joachim and Ann in Clyde and other locations; removed from ministry in June 1984; died in prison.
► Rev. Vince Wiggins – Served at St. Vincent Pallotti and Sacred Heart, Sts. Joachim and Ann in Clyde and other locations; laicized (no longer has the rights of the cleric) in 1995.
A Message from Bishop Sis
The sin of sexual abuse is an offense before God that causes emotional, spiritual, and physical trauma to the victim. In a spirit of transparency and accountability, for the care of souls, and to assist survivors of child sexual abuse, we have chosen to disclose to our people a list of all priests, deacons, and religious who have had a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in our diocese.
The decision to release this list was reached in order to further live up to our commitment to provide a safe environment for young people in all church activities within the Diocese of San Angelo. We know that the scourge of sexual abuse within the Church has caused pain, mistrust, and feelings of betrayal. We pledge to remain resolute in protecting the most vulnerable among us by continuing to remove offenders from ministry whenever we become aware of credible allegations.
By far, the majority of our priests and deacons have served with honor, dignity, and virtue. While trust has been compromised by the serious misconduct of a few, I publicly affirm the goodness and the fidelity of the many.
On behalf of the entire Church, I express my deep sorrow and repentance for any sins and harm that has been caused by any form of abuse by the Church’s ministers. I also apologize to all people for whom this scandal has led to disillusionment, discouragement or desolation, even if they have not had direct experience of the abuse.
I pledge my personal acts of prayer and fasting in response to the sins that have been committed by ministers of the Church, and I am very grateful to anyone who offers prayers and sacrifices for healing and reparation. To all victims and your families, I am deeply sorry for the pain, betrayal, and suffering you have experienced.
I make this report praying that those who are suffering from sexual abuse by a minister of the Church will be able to hear this as a sincere apology. Reading this report will possibly be painful. Those who choose to read this report after being sexually abused by a minister of the Church may find wounds opened and need additional counseling or therapeutic support. We want to help you through our Victim Assistance Coordinator.
Our Church and our entire society are currently going through a time of necessary purification and conversion for the sin of sexual abuse and the way it has been handled by those in authority. May God grant us wisdom, fortitude, vigilance, and perseverance to attain the highest standards of behavior in all our churches, schools, and institutions.
Please pray for the healing of all victims of the sin of sexual abuse.