The Catholic archdiocese in Baltimore on Wednesday published the names of 23 dead priests and religious brothers who it says were credibly accused of child sex abuse after their deaths.
The release of the names marks a revision to an archdiocese policy that once prohibited the naming of priests and brothers who were no longer alive when they were accused of abusing youngsters.
“It is hoped that this step will demonstrate the archdiocese’s commitment to transparency and provide encouragement and healing for victim-survivors of abuse,” archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said in an email.
Baltimore’s archdiocese — home to the country’s first bishop, first cathedral, and first diocese — has now publicly named and listed 126 clergy members accused of child sex abuse, with incidents dating back as far as 80 years.
It began releasing the names more than 16 years ago as Catholic bishops across the country adopted widespread reforms as clergy abuse became a national crisis for the church in the U.S. But a Pennsylvania grand jury last year made very clear that more changes are needed.
In a nearly 900-page report released in August, the grand jury in Pennsylvania alleged that more than 300 Roman Catholic priests had abused at least 1,000 children over the past seven decades in six dioceses. It also accused senior church officials of systematically covering up complaints.
Following the turmoil of 2018 — which included the pope’s removal of U.S. church leader Theodore McCarrick as a cardinal amid various allegations — Archbishop William E. Lori and members of the Baltimore archdiocese’s independent review board asked that the policy prohibiting the naming of priests and brothers who were no longer alive be revisited with an eye toward greater transparency.
Here’s what’s changed: The archdiocese will add the names of priests and brothers accused after their deaths if church investigators received an allegation of child sexual abuse from more than one victim, if a single allegation of child sex abuse is substantiated through external information that corroborates sex abuse, or if the name of the priest or brother was already published elsewhere in connection with an abuse allegation.
In some cases, the information about the newly named priests and brothers came from Pennsylvania’s grand jury report. Baltimore church leaders noted that many of the men whose names were released Wednesday also served outside of the archdiocese.
The list released Wednesday hardly makes up all outstanding allegations brought to the Baltimore archdiocese. In a statement posted on its website, the archdiocese made clear that it is aware of “numerous additional allegations against individuals who are not named here.” It says it plans to update its list of child sex abusers as it receives additional information.
Earlier this year, church leaders in Baltimore’s Catholic archdiocese said they had delivered over 50,000 internal files to Maryland’s top law enforcement official amid an investigation into child sex abuse and were in the process of handing over more. At the time, Lori described the clergy sex abuse scourge that’s been rocking the church as a “genuine crisis” and said Baltimore’s archdiocese was working hard to cooperate with Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s investigation.
SOURCE: The Associated Press, David McFadden