February 11, 2020

The Diocese of Phoenix is disheartened by any allegation of clergy abuse, and stands with all those who grieve and suffer because of the abuse caused by clergy. The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin, and we continue to pray for the healing of survivors and their families, and to work for truth and justice.

We are reviewing the information released today at the press conference. Information about Pecore and Henn, two former Salvatorian priests, may be found here: https://dphx.org/youth-protection/community-notification-statements.

The Diocese of Phoenix has not been served or had the opportunity to review the allegations against two of the Salvatorian priests — Fr. Donald R. Verhagen and Fr. James Bretl, both deceased — identified today during the press conference, so we cannot comment directly on the claims, but can confirm that no prior allegations against either has ever been brought to the Diocese of Phoenix. Our understanding is that the claims made in today’s press conference relate to cases that date back to the late 1970s or early 1980s.

The Diocese of Phoenix is committed to providing a safe environment where it values and honors every individual as created in the image and likeness of God. Great efforts have been made to put systems into place to keep our young people safe, and we will continue to work in close cooperation with law enforcement to uphold the principles of accountability and justice.

We encourage anyone who has been a victim of abuse to contact local law enforcement. For additional information about support services for those who have been abused, please contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection at (602) 354-2396.

Bringing to light this dark period in our history is important so that we can protect the vulnerable, bring healing to the wounded, and keep people safe and focused on Jesus Christ.