The leader of the Diocese of Tucson is speaking out following increased scrutiny of the Catholic Church. Bishop Edward Weisenburger issued a six-page letter responding to the controversy facing the church. In an interview with Arizona 360, the bishop said the church waited to issue a response: "This is such a moving target, at the present time. That, sometimes people in our culture want us to rush out with immediate answers and I understand that. It’s the way our brains are wired in Western culture. One of the great truths about the Catholic Church is we’re probably more an aircraft carrier than a speedboat. And sometimes there’s some real prudence in letting the dust settle before you give the world your best answer."
In 2002 the Diocese of Tucson faced its own crisis with allegations of abuse dating back to the 1960s. Weisenburger said the Diocese of Tucson has improved its protocols for responding to allegations. In the last 10 years 10 people were terminated from their work in Catholic churches and schools in Southern Arizona. Since 2008, the diocese has processed about 38,000 clearance requests for churches and schools. At least 700, or about 2 percent, were denied due to allegations of sexual misconduct.
For those skeptical of the church and the current crisis, Weisenburger said: "If you look at statistics there’s no higher incidents at all of sexual acting out amongst priest than there is amongst any other identifiable group. Any other ministerial group. Any other group of men. I do sometimes feel that the world would be a much safer place when the world begins to look accurately at the phenomenal amount, the overwhelming amount of sexual abuse going on today in our world. It’s almost a collective yawn on the part of our public when we hear about one in five females today or one in 12 males today being sexually assaulted —not 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years ago — but today. And we’ve made such huge advances within the church I think our culture will be much safer when others kind of follow our suit.”
Also on this week’s program, lifelong Catholic Renée Schafer Horton is disappointed that the Diocese of Tucson hasn’t done more to communicate with parishioners about the current crisis. Plus, assistant professor Daisy Vargas from the University of Arizona College of Humanities Religious Studies & Classics provides analysis on how the current crisis impacts practicing Catholics.
A major break in the murders of two children in Tucson happened with the arrest of a sole suspect this month. Christopher Clements, 36, will be arraigned in Pima County next week for the kidnappings and killings of 6-year-old Isabel Celis and 13-year-old Maribel Gonzalez. The girls disappeared in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
Just hours after the Tucson Police Department announced Clements's indictment, the Arizona Daily Star's Caitlin Schmidt discovered the suspect had a criminal history that spanned 20 years in four states. It included offenses that required Clements to register as a sex offender when he was 16. Schmidt and Lorraine Rivera discussed what law enforcement and public records have indicated about the suspect to date.
Mexican citizens living in Arizona who need health care are getting help from their home country, without having to cross the border. Mobile health clinics operating in Arizona and several other states receive funding from the Mexican government. Nancy Montoya reports on the funding's reach in the United States and how the services provided by the clinics have proven life-saving for some.
While television and radio remain the most prominent platforms for political advertisements, more of those messages are reaching audiences on social media. Assistant professor Dam Hee Kim specializes in social media engagement at the University of Arizona Department of Communication. She explained how campaigns can effectively reach supporters online and how interactions on social media could encourage younger voters to go to the polls.