Diocese of Alexandria Gets New Bishop, SNAP Calls for Immediate Action
A new bishop has been chosen to lead a Louisiana diocese. We call on him to make the protection of children and prevention of abuse his number one priority now that he is officially a bishop.
Rev. Robert W. Marshall, Jr., a pastor from the Diocese of Memphis, has been chosen by Pope Francis to lead the Diocese of Alexandria, LA. He has his work cut out for him as he heads to a diocese that has a troubling history with transparency and is in need of reform. To us, Bishop-elect Marshall’s first priority is simple: be as transparent as possible to ensure that the vulnerable are protected. In order to demonstrate commitment to this priority, we call on him to take two immediate steps.
First, he should add much needed detail to the list of accused clerics that the Diocese of Alexandria released in 2019. The list released by Catholic officials in Alexandria is among the least transparent lists in the state, largely because of the decision to omit work histories from it. This information is critical so that communities where abusers worked know that they likely have survivors among them and can take steps to help survivors come forward. In doing so, parishioners can learn information that can help protect children in the future, and can also ensure victims get the help they need now. Bishop-elect Marshall should immediately add this critical information to his list of accused clerics.
Second, Bishop-elect Marshall should immediately turn over all files related to abuse allegations in the Diocese of Alexandria to local prosecutors and the attorney general and urge them to conduct an independent investigation. As a new bishop, he should recognize that the best way for him to protect children is allow trained professionals from secular law enforcement to review files and ensure there are no cover-ups or quietly dismissed staffers who could still pose a threat to boys and girls. By turning over these files to law enforcement, Bishop-elect Marshall can demonstrate his commitment to transparency and change.
These are simple and straightforward steps that Bishop-elect Marshall can take to demonstrate his commitment to keeping children and vulnerable adults safe. We hope he will take them immediately.
(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)