Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cardinal O'Malley Must Release the Names of Priests and other Religious Who Have Been Credibly Accused of Child Sexual Abuse

The Boston Globe recently wrote an op editorial in which they rightly described Cardinal O'Malley's responses to clergy sexual abuse as "a push and pull between the old forces of secrecy and the new pressure for transparency." In March 2009, the Cardinal publicly stated that "in the very near future" the Archdiocese would revise its policy on "disclosing information about accused clergy and the status of cases against them." Fifteen months later, despite urgings from child advocates and abuse victims, and the fact that two dozen other Bishops have released this information, we in Boston still wait.

The Cardinal's new Vatican assignment to help Ireland address its clergy sex scandal should prompt him to resolve unfinished business in his own Archdiocese. He must release now the names of all proven, admitted or credibly accused Archdiocesan priests, religious order priests and brothers, deacons and nuns - whether living or deceased. Included must be the allegations against them, how many children were proven or alleged victims, the names of parishes and schools to which they were assigned, their current whereabouts, and any Vatican orders regarding their laicization or restrictions in their duties. The names of credibly accused religious transferred to the Boston Archdioceses from Ireland and other foreign countries must also be included.

Limiting the release of information about old, already-known cases will not do. Release of audit records from the Diocese of Manchester last year confirms that U.S. Catholic dioceses have received many allegations in recent years. Nearly one-third of known accused priests in that Diocese were named between 2004 and 2009.

We agree with the Cardinal, that: "The Church must be unfailingly vigilant in protecting children and young people." Parents and adults also want to be vigilant against the threat of child sexual abuse. They need to know the names and whereabouts of as many as 200 Boston-area predator priests, most of whom are likely living and working among unsuspecting families and colleagues and who continue to pose an ongoing risk to our children.

Jetta Bernier, Executive Director
Massachusetts Citizens for Children
June 10, 2010