The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Releases Names of Accused Priests
We appreciate this move by church officials in West Virginia, especially for including the names of priests who served in West Virginia but were accused of abuse in dioceses outside Wheeling-Charleston. However, we cannot help but note the omission of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, who has been accused of abusing at least one minor and resigned in September over allegations that he had sexually harassed a number of adults.
The omission of Bishop Bransfield has us wondering what other claims were deemed by the diocese to not be “credible.” Only independent law enforcement professionals can truly determine when an allegation is “credible” or not, especially given that we have seen church officials deem accusations not credible only to be proven horribly wrong later.
For that reason, if Archbishop Lori is confident in the veracity of his list, we believe he should urge an independent investigation into the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey that has full access to diocesan records and would do a full review of all personnel files and abuse records.
We also believe that Archbishop Lori should publicize this list permanently on the diocesan website and run it at least quarterly in every parish bulletin. It should include every single proven, admitted and accused church employee: bishops, priests, seminarians, brothers, nuns and lay people, no matter who supervised or ordained them, and no matter where they originated. In this list, Archbishop Lori should also put by each name the date when he or his staff first learned of the allegation against that person, and when they removed from their position. It is important for accountability to find out who knew what, when they knew it, and what they chose to do with that information.
Finally, we encourage anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered abuse at the hands of church officials to contact law enforcement to make a report and not the Diocese directly.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
SNAP will be Representing Clergy Abuse Survivors in Rome!
We are taking the fight to Rome and are standing up for all survivors on a world stage! From February 19-25, Board President Tim Lennon, Seattle Leader Mary Dispenza, Los Angeles Leader Esther Hatfield Miller and Austin Leader Carol Midboe will be traveling to Rome for Pope Francis' Papal Abuse Summit.
If you are a member of the media and looking to get in touch with these survivors while in Rome, click here for our media advisory and contact information. If you are interested in connecting with a survivor in the US from your area of coverage, please contact one of the SNAP leaders in the US listed below:
- East Coast/DC: Becky Ianni (SNAPvirginia@cox.net, 703-801-6044)
- Midwest/Chicago: Zach Hiner (email@example.com, 517-974-9009)
- Midwest/St. Louis: David Clohessy (firstname.lastname@example.org, 314314-566-9790)
- West Coast / San Francisco: Melanie Sakoda (email@example.com, 925-708-6175)
If you are looking to help spread the word about the importance of this summit and for survivors to be heard, add your voice to the conversation on social media using the hashtag #PBC2019. Be sure to follow SNAP on twitter and Facebook and share our posts, add your comments, and let the world know that we are watching!Learn More