KUAM announced today that former LA priest John Wadeson has been reinstated in the Archdiocese of Agana (Guam).
I have written about Wadeson in the past. According to the Los Angeles Archdiocese, he was twice accused of sexually abusing children and had been banned from working as a priest there.
According to a statement published in The Tidings (the Archdiocese of LA Newspaper), the LA Archdiocese did a investigation and “concluded that there is no reason to preclude Father Wadeson from serving in priestly ministry.”
This decision was based on the fact there has never been a settlement paid on an abuse case against Wadeson. According to the statement, when the allegations first arose, the Society of the Divine Word (the order to which Wadeson belonged) investigated the claims and found them “unverified.”
Here are my issues:
- According to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and every other diocese across the US, the payment of a settlement does NOT equate implied guilt on the behalf of the accused. If this were the case, former San Diego Bishop Robert Brom would have been removed years ago. (He paid a former seminarian a confidential $250,000 settlement for allegedly coercing the victim into sex)
- Why didn’t Wadeson do something immediately when the LA Archdiocese published reports that he was twice accused? If in the same position, I would do everything in my power to clear my name immediately. And I would be public about it to ensure that I was adhering to transparency.
- What does “unverified” mean? That there was only one victim? There were no witnesses? What is a “verified” allegation?
And probably the most troublesome:
- Why would Agana Archbishop Apuron publish this statement?
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has concluded that there is no reason to preclude Father Wadeson from serving in priestly ministry showing that all the rumors and alleged calumnies against him were unfounded.
Rumors and calumnies? It was not a rumor that LA had said he was twice-accused, nor was it a rumor that they had banned him. But by making such a bile-infused statement, Apuron is attempting to silence and shame victims and whistleblowers by labeling them sinners and rumor-mongers.
As I have reiterated numerous times, the clergy sex abuse scandal is not about abuse. It’s about cover-up and how bishops handle allegations of abuse, perpetrators and victims.
Whether or not Wadeson is guilty, the most troubling aspect of this case is how Apuron has used it to silence victims, divide the faithful, bully whistleblowers, and shelter secrets.