The following comes from a Jan. 14 story by The Press Democrat.
Addressing history of sexual abuse in local Catholic Church, Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa told reporters Monday that it was a source of “tremendous sadness and grief and shame and, honestly, a raging anger that these men did what they did.”
Critics have believed church leaders allowed abusive priests to take refuge in the large, semi-rural Diocese of Santa Rosa, which runs from Petaluma to the Oregon border. But on Monday Vasa said diocesan authorities, like those anywhere else, were merely willing to “give a priest another chance.”
In news conference he suggested, however, that he might have acted more promptly than his predecessors when learning of abuse accusations.
“Now, given the tenor of our times, I’m strongly inclined to do that,” he continued. “Even when I’m fairly certain that nothing untoward had occurred, I will report it to the police because that’s the route I need to take.”
Vasa met with members of the Bay Area press corps following his release of a carefully curated list of who had been credibly accused of child sex abuse.
He explained: “The release of names is made primarily for the sake of the victims — those who have come forward and those who have not yet found their voice,” he said. “I pray that those who continue to dwell in the shadows and who perhaps feel that no one will believe them will see in this moment the desire of the church to reach out to them to say to them, ‘We hear you, we believe you, and we want to help you.’ ”
The list includes four priests responsible on their own for abusing 63 of 100 known diocesan victims, he said, and 14 men whose alleged offenses occurred outside the diocese. Twenty-five of those on the list are deceased and none are in current pastoral service to the diocese.
Only four have been prosecuted criminally, with varying success. “Part of that is, sadly, the church’s fault,” Vasa said, and part of that is the function of the typical years-long delay between childhood sexual abuse and reporting, combined with the statute of limitations on criminal prosecution.