A priest at a Catholic high school was removed from ministry after confessing he had abused a child in 2013. Another priest was arrested after allegedly engaging in sexual acts with two women on the altar of his small-town church. And seven new names were added to the list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
All of this happened within two weeks in the New Orleans Archdiocese.
Partly in response to these events, on Oct. 9, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, wrote a letter to Pope Franciscalling for the removal of New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond.
The letter, which SNAP also sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., said Aymond has refused to be honest with parishioners, has not pursued accountability for abuse and has “lost control of his priests.”
“We implore you to send Vatican investigators to New Orleans so that you may arrive at the same truth for yourself that we already know — Catholics in New Orleans deserve a better leader than Gregory Aymond,” the letter said.
Kevin Bourgeois, a SNAP leader in New Orleans, and Zach Hiner, SNAP’s executive director, said the archdiocese — which also filed for bankruptcyin May, citing the financial burdens of abuse lawsuits — is experiencing a crisis that will require Vatican and secular intervention to rectify.
“It has been … an absolute debacle of infinite proportions,” Bourgeois said.
The sexual abuse crisis in the Archdiocese of New Orleans stretches back decades. With the latest addition — to include members of the Franciscan Friars’ order, according to Nola.com — there will be over 70 names on the official list of priests and clergy credibly accused of abusing children.