December 29th, 2003
COACHELLA -- Representatives from the Diocese of San Bernardino visited Our Lady of Soledad this weekend to advise parishioners that a former priest who once spent time at the church is now serving a 10-year sentence for child molestation.
ME: Still trying to minimize the story or the issue, the San Bernardino diocese responded:
“Rodrigue’s conviction stems from the molestation of a child in the 1990s, well after he had left the church” is how Rev. Howard Lincoln, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church Diocese in San Bernardino, was quoted in local press.
The first time Margaret Schettler called the diocese outreach director, “The first question out of his mouth was if I was going to file a lawsuit against the diocese of San Bernardino. I just had one goal, to find the victims."
She says she’s haunted by the idea that all those boys interacted with Rodrigue, in just the short time she worked at the church in Soledad.
“Monsignor Lopez presented himself as not knowing,” Schettler said of the outreach director. “He was just trying to throw me off. During a 10 month period, I was checking internet, reading articles and following the story and learning the pattern.
Today Margaret is Religious Education Director, which puts her in charge of Virtus, at Our Lady of Grace on White Oak and Ventura in Encino.
“We've had listening sessions, we had the survivors, quilt, my pastor has been very involved,” she said.
When asked what she thinks the church needs to do Schettler said:
“They need to move themselves out of the center. It’s not about survivors coming back to the church, if anybody needs to come back on their knees with humility it’s the church.
One of the things with the Rodrigue case I asked Msgr. Lopez shouldn't you be going to the parishes where he served for 29 years.
He was an active priest 20 years.
He admits he raped up to five young boys, usually altar boys a year.
Monsignor Lopez’s response was according to Schettler was, we've already done enough.
Shettler did what she could, leafleting with SNAP, interacting with the sheriff and DA, she even wrote a 7-page report and sent it to the San Bernardino diocese, still not sure of the name of the priest who was molesting young boys in Coachella in the 1970s.
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