Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
AP Exclusive: A Reckoning Underway in US Catholic Church
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 5 years ago on
January 6, 2019

Share

PHILADELPHIA — Over the past four months, Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of more than 1,000 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children in an unprecedented public reckoning spurred at least in part by a shocking grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania, an Associated Press review has found.

“People saw what happened in these parishes in Pennsylvania and said, ‘That happened in my parish too.’ They could see the immediate connection, and they are demanding the same accounting.” — Tim Lennon, national president of the board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Nearly 50 dioceses and religious orders have publicly identified child-molesting priests in the wake of the Pennsylvania report issued in mid-August, and 55 more have announced plans to do the same over the next few months, the AP found. Together they account for more than half of the nation’s 187 dioceses.
The review also found that nearly 20 local, state or federal investigations, either criminal or civil, have been launched since the release of the grand jury findings.
Those investigations could lead to more names and more damning accusations, as well as fines against dioceses and court-ordered safety measures.
“People saw what happened in these parishes in Pennsylvania and said, ‘That happened in my parish too.’ They could see the immediate connection, and they are demanding the same accounting,” said Tim Lennon, national president of the board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Accusations Date Back Six or Seven Decades

The recently disclosed accusations date back six or seven decades in some cases, with the oldest from the 1910s in Louisiana. Most of the priests were long ago removed from ministry. An AP examination found that more than 60 percent are dead. In most cases, the statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges or suing has run out.
Nevertheless, advocates say exposing molesters nearly two decades after the scandal first erupted in Boston in 2002 is an encouraging step, in part because it gives some victims a sense of vindication after decades of official silence or denials. Also, it could increase pressure on dioceses to set up victims’ compensation funds, as the church has done in Pennsylvania already. And it could result in the removal of molesters from positions outside the church that give them access to children.
“This is a milestone. We are getting closer and closer to what this ought to be, the true coming to terms that would have to be at a national level,” said Joe McLean, who filed a lawsuit with other victims seeking to compel the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to release files on alleged abusers nationwide.
The Pennsylvania investigation, led by state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, identified nearly 300 “predator priests” dating back seven decades and accused church leaders of covering up for the abuses, in some cases by returning priests to duty after short stays in treatment centers or reassigning them. Advocates said the report had big impact because it was the largest to date in scope, encompassing most of the state.
Victims’ advocates and others, including some church officials, said the report was largely responsible for the urgency now being shown by the church. Many bishops cited those findings and other scandals — including the resignation over the summer of Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, accused of groping an altar boy in the 1970s — in their letters to their congregations.

U.S. Bishops Have Adopted New Reporting Procedures

The biggest list of names has come from the Jesuits West Province, a religious order that encompasses nine Western states. It identified 111 priests. The New Orleans Archdiocese and the Diocese of Syracuse, New York, named 61 and 57 respectively. The Great Falls-Billings, Montana, Diocese disclosed 47 names, including those of a few nuns, while the Los Angeles Archdiocese reported more than 50 from the past decade or so.
Some dioceses, like Peoria, Illinois, released only names with no information on the allegations or the church’s response. Others detailed such things as parish assignments, numbers and dates of allegations — including an Omaha priest with 20 to 35 accusations against him — and attempts at treatment, restriction and punishment.
And more names could be coming in places where attorneys general have launched statewide investigations such as New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, Florida and Delaware, or in cities like Houston or Cheyenne, Wyoming, where local prosecutors are looking into individual priests.
In his Christmas address last month, Pope Francis made an unprecedented call for priests who had abused children to turn themselves in and vowed the church will “never again” hide their crimes. The world’s bishops will hold a summit at the Vatican next month to forge a comprehensive response to the crisis.
The U.S. bishops adopted new reporting procedures and other reforms after the furor in Boston but held off on any further measures recently at the direction of the Vatican. The bishops are holding a retreat outside Chicago starting Wednesday for “prayer and reflection” upon the scandal. Messages left by the AP seeking comment from conference officials were not returned.

Photo of Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves to faithful during the Angelus noon prayer in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Accepting the Resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl

In the 16 years between the Boston scandal and the Pennsylvania investigation, only about 30 dioceses around the country had released lists of priests they deemed credibly accused of abuse. Most of those dioceses came clean because they were forced to do so by lawsuits or bankruptcy filings. Some dioceses declined to name any deceased priests, since they could not defend themselves, and some would not identify any clergy members at all.

“The Pennsylvania grand jury report kind of helped us firm up our decision to move forward with what we were doing. It affected the timing rather than the decision.” — Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, Little Rock Diocese
Now, 13 dioceses have hired outside consultants including FBI agents and former judges to review their files, and dioceses that had previously been secretive are coordinating to release statewide lists in such places as Texas and New Jersey.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Little Rock Diocese in Arkansas disclosed the names of 12 priests in September and announced the hiring of a consultant to review diocesan files.
“The Pennsylvania grand jury report kind of helped us firm up our decision to move forward with what we were doing. It affected the timing rather than the decision,” Taylor said.
In October, the pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., after he was accused in the report of mishandling some allegations of abuse against priests and others while bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.
The report is also credited with spurring an uptick in victims contacting support networks or law enforcement. Pennsylvania’s clergy abuse hotline has received more than 1,400 new allegations since August, and Lennon said there has been a dramatic increase in victims reaching out to SNAP.

Many Experts Say Lists Are Incomplete

While praising the release of names, many experts said the lists are often incomplete. Terence McKiernan, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, which has tracked abuse for more than a decade, said many dioceses have left off names of known abusers his group has published in its online database.

“It was obvious that this type of concealment, this type of unresolved action in Pennsylvania, that we were going to find the same thing in Illinois.” — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
“It’s not enough,” Pennsylvania’s Shapiro agreed. “I do not believe that the church is capable of policing itself though. They need outside forces, ideally law enforcement, to hold them accountable.”
Shapiro said he has spoken to 45 other attorneys general since his report, and 14 have publicly acknowledged some form of investigation. Other investigations have become public because of dioceses acknowledging subpoenas, reporters documenting raids or state agencies advertising victim hotlines.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan printed a copy of the Pennsylvania report the day it came out. In mid-December, she issued a blistering preliminary report saying a review of church files showed dioceses in Illinois had withheld the names of at least 500 clergy accused of sexually abusing children.
“It was obvious that this type of concealment, this type of unresolved action in Pennsylvania, that we were going to find the same thing in Illinois,” Madigan said.

DON'T MISS

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

DON'T MISS

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

DON'T MISS

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

DON'T MISS

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

DON'T MISS

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

DON'T MISS

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

DON'T MISS

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

DON'T MISS

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

DON'T MISS

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

DON'T MISS

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

UP NEXT

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

UP NEXT

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

UP NEXT

Wall Street’s Mixed Trading Day

UP NEXT

New Recruiting Programs Put Army, Air Force on Track to Meet Enlistment Goals. Navy Will Fall Short

UP NEXT

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

11 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

12 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

12 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

13 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

13 hours ago

Savannah Bananas Dominate Social Media, Sell Out Stadiums Nationwide Including Fresno

15 hours ago

Biden is Off on Details of His Uncle’s WWII Death as He Calls Trump Unfit to Lead the Military

16 hours ago

Big Names in Rap, Christian Music, and Comedy Headline Must-See Weekend Entertainment

16 hours ago

US and UK Issue New Sanctions on Iran in Response to Tehran’s Weekend Attack on Israel

16 hours ago

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

17 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

Fresno got a $10.9 million piece of California grant money to shelter people living in encampments. The money from California’s $192 m...

10 hours ago

10 hours ago

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

10 hours ago

City Council Finally Gives New NW Fresno Costco a Green Light

10 hours ago

Prop 47 Reformers Send Nearly a Million Signatures to Sacramento

Crypto the WonderDog Show
11 hours ago

BTC Scammy Scams, Impact of Blockchain on Global Markets: Crypto The WonderDog Show

12 hours ago

US Vetoes Full United Nations Membership for Palestine

12 hours ago

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

13 hours ago

Cavinder Twins Are Returning to Miami for Their Last Season

13 hours ago

California Sets Long-Awaited Drinking Water Limit for ‘Erin Brockovich’ Contaminant

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend