The archival project with which I am associated, BishopAccountability, is collecting all documents, articles, legal cases, and other material, associated with sexual abuse by clerics in the United States. We have close to a million pages of documents now, and will probaly end up with 3 to 5 million pages.
No one else is collecting this material. No one else, as far as we know, has a list of the names of every priest accused of sexual abuse in the United States, much less the documentation of the abuse and how the bishops handled or, almost always, mishandled, the abuse. No one – not the American bishops, not the Vatican, not any governmental or law enforcement agency – has the documentation that is essential to understanding how abuse flourished so long among the Catholic clergy.
The violence that drug cartels are inflicting on Mexico is also not documented. The government in Mexico can scarcely be trusted to paint a realistic picture, and no governmental agency in the United States seems to be keeping track of what is happening on our southern border – except for one librarian in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Ms. Molloy, a 54-year-old librarian at New Mexico State University here, spends most mornings sifting reports in the Mexican press to create a tally of drug-cartel-related killings in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She is striving to fill a widening information gap about these homicides in Juárez, some 50 miles southeast of Las Cruces, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
There is no official count of the people killed in Mexico’s escalating drug wars—whether the victims are drug traffickers, police or civilians. A government estimate puts the total at about 22,000 in all of Mexico since late 2006.
For Juárez, Mexico’s deadliest city, state officials keep their own tally, but the swift pace of the killings, as well as distrust of authorities, has prompted reporters and such observers as Ms. Molloy to keep their own counts.
Some Americans who attempted to count the killings were overwhelmed by the carnage and gave up. But Ms. Molloy perseveres. The death toll has risen above a thousand in Juárez so far this year, according to her count.
“I don’t think there’s a phenomenon like that in the world unless it’s a declared war,” she said.
Mexican government officials say they aren’t deliberately withholding information on the killings. They say determining which homicides are linked to criminal gangs involves lengthy investigations and a level of coordination among various agencies that isn’t automatic.
The Mexican news media, however, distinguish drug-related killings from, say, domestic violence, by using information collected by reporters at crime scenes.
Ms. Molloy tallies their reports and makes her findings available for free to anyone who wants them. Her material is used in news accounts and scholarly studies in the U.S. and beyond, as universities and some U.S. newspapers curtail travel in Mexico because of concerns about the violence.
More than 300 people subscribe to Ms. Molloy’s daily news and analysis emails, including congressional staff, U.S. and Mexican human-rights watchdogs, local and international reporters, and border observers from as far away as Norway.
Like BishopAccountability, Ms. Molloy wants her work to be of permanent value:
Ms. Molloy said her long-term plan is to build a more comprehensive archive at her university’s library to document Juárez’s bloody years. She hopes future readers will be able to track, in the news clippings, longstanding problems she and other scholars believe are contributing to today’s violence: the migration of poor workers from Mexico’s interior searching for manufacturing jobs; the growth of shanty towns; and more recently, a generation of uneducated youth lured by the gangster lifestyle.
“Ten years from now, people are going to ask ‘What happened in Juárez?’ ” Ms. Molloy said.
And ten, twenty, a hundred years from now, people will be asking “What happened in the Catholic Church?” The BishopAccountability archive will have the clues, the documents, the records, without which it will be impossible to answer that question.
(The costs are daunting. If you know anyone who has a lot of spare change, head them in our direction).