Why Does the San Jose Diocese’s List of Abusive Clergy Members Come Up So Short?

On Oct. 18, 2018, Bishop Patrick McGrath of the San Jose Diocese released a public list of “priests with credible allegations of sex abuse” in the Diocese. That list contained only 15 names. In comparison, other dioceses in the U.S. this past year released lists of clergy abusers with much higher numbers.

The disparity left parishioners, public, and media in San Jose scratching their heads. Was the San Jose Diocese uncommonly less prone to child sex abuse reports than the rest of the country? Or did Bishop McGrath and his consultants arbitrarily pick and choose what priests they wanted on the list?

According to newly released documents and testimony from clergy abuse victims, the list appears to be 440 percent short.

Ever since the Pennsylvania Attorney General and grand jury released their scathing report of clergy abusers in August 2018, dioceses across the U.S. have been releasing their own voluntary lists of abusers. Abuse victims and their advocates say this voluntary action is an attempt at damage control, and an effort to beat other state attorneys general to the punch. Some say it’s also an attempt at minimizing the numbers beforehand.

Why the purportedly low numbers in San Jose?

Perhaps an insight into the process of information, and the exclusion of certain Catholic institutions on the “list” can shine light on the discrepancy.

Many dioceses include “religious order” priests into the equation when considering how many clergy abusers were in their jurisdiction, but some do not. Religious order priests, such as Jesuits, Salesians, Dominicans, Franciscans, and so on, are Catholic priests that belong to communities and organizations within a church. Some Catholics believe that religious order priests are not under jurisdiction of the bishop of a diocese. But this conflict may be cleared up, accor...

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