Historic abuse lawsuit filed against Diocese of San Diego

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Letter to the diocese from the Rt. Rev. Susan Brown Snook of 22 June 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing to you today with some difficult news.

We learned last week that the diocese has been named in a lawsuit filed by a man alleging he was sexually abused as a teenaged minor in 1974-1975 by Francis Alan Papworth, who was rector of All Saints’ Vista at the time. All Saints’ has also been named in the suit.

Papworth, who is now deceased, was later convicted of abusing minors outside our diocese in 1987. He was deposed from the priesthood in 1988, and served several years in prison in California.

This is a painful chapter in the church’s history. But as Christians, we are called to hold our institutions to account and learn where they have failed. We also believe that we must be committed to healing for those who may have been harmed. I invite and encourage anyone in our congregations or in the community who might be able to share information about Mr. Papworth or any related situation to contact either Ms. Dawn Stary, dawnstary11@gmail.com, 619-446-7932, or The Rev. Willy Crespo, frcrespo92@gmail.com, 858-354-6799. Information received will be handled sensitively and will help us gain a fuller understanding of this matter.

Please know that in the Diocese of San Diego, the safety of our children, the members of our congregations, and the members of our community is paramount. Today, candidates for ordination are thoroughly screened for psychological and personality disorders. Every clergy person, staff member, and volunteer who works with children must complete training in the protection of children and youth using the Safe Church, Safe Communities program. This training is renewed every three years. Training in the protection of vulnerable adults is also required. If allegations of child abuse were reported to any member of the clergy or any church employee today, we would immediately contact civil authorities.

We will soon have a better understanding of the allegations in this lawsuit, and I will write to you again when we have updates that can be shared. Please join me in praying for the plaintiff, for all victims of Mr. Papworth’s abuse and their families, and for all who are affected by this circumstance.

In Christ, Susan Brown Snook