PUEBLO, Colo. — Of the 19 priests mentioned in the Attorney Generals report only 5 of them are living and are no longer in active ministry.
One of the priests named in the report, Father Leo Bonfadini who now lives in Denver, denied the allegation against him on Friday to a Denver station.
The church currently has 1,751 trained mandatory reporters, and every year approximately 2,793 children are taught how to keep themselves safe.
The Church admits they have not completely fixed the issue of clergy sexual abuse of minors and that the report is a stark reminder of what happened when the issue was not taken seriously.
Many of the at least 36 victims in the Pueblo area didn’t report the allegations until (on average) three decades later.
The Pueblo Diocese said they will work to understand the recommendations of the report, most of which deal with how they investigate historical allegations and respond to survivors who are now adults.
“Last summer, 2018, we began a review of the historical files and this is still a work in progress. Thus far I can share that the procedures of the Charter, virtually in place now over 20 years, have been followed and our directives to achieve a safe environment for children have been successful. However, I once again reiterate my apology and express my sorrow to all victims of childhood sexual abuse. I again remind everyone that when it comes to any instance of this crime, the Diocese of Pueblo has a zero-tolerance policy. I urge any victims of clergy sexual abuse to notify the police, and also [Monsignor Edward Nuñez] and Nancy Martinez at (719) 544-9861.Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg, D.D.
If we are to truly reform the Church we must begin again and always with our unique and primary mission as Catholics to proclaim Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. […] Let us be thankful for all who have worked over years to protect and heal the Little Ones among us. In purposeful outreach to those innocent victims who have been grievously harmed, let us pray for our Church leadership to firmly take the next steps to end all facets of this tragedy.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus hear our prayers and lead us to victory over Satan, the Adversary, the Enemy of Christ and humankind. May we more deeply journey through the Heart of Jesus in the year ahead, to proclaim the Gospel in our diocese, always mindful of the most precious gift with which we have been entrusted: the safety, future and faith of our children.”
Bishop of Pueblo
Bishop Stephen Berg gave a video statement on healing and transparency on August 27, 2019 prior to the Attorney Generals report published.
FOX21 News has requested an interview with Bishop Stephen Berg since the report has been published but that request has not be granted yet.
According to the Pueblo Diocese, these are 5 things for Catholics to keep in mind regarding the independent review: 1. It’s appropriate to feel hurt or anger. No one in the current Church is making any excuses for what happened back then. The pain caused to the innocent can never be forgotten no matter how long ago it occurred in the past. 2. Our hearts are with the survivors. While no apology is sufficient, we are truly sorry on behalf of the Church and hope that we can assist in the healing process. 3. We can always do better and must never get complacent. 4. Our culture has changed – thanks to many of you. 5. Support your priests. It’s important for everyone to know that the report found no substantiated allegations against any of our diocesan priests currently in the ministry. Together we will persevere, rebuild trust within our community, and become stronger as we love and serve the Kingdom of God.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Pueblo in Colorado. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact (888) 283-9922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.