Diocese of Belleville Quietly Adds Names to its List of Abusive Clergy
Belleville Catholic officials have quietly - without notifying the public - added a dozen more names to their list of those with “credible allegations” of abusing children. Given that the entire point of these lists is to ensure that diocesan leaders are accountable to their parishioners and the public, we are disturbed that these updates were made without any sort of notice.
The original list of abusive clergy put out by Catholic officials in Belleville in late 2019 contained the names of 17 priests who diocesan leaders determined had been “credibly” accused of abuse but it was woefully lacking in information about these men. Sometime since then, Catholic officials updated the list to include the names of 12 more men, as well as additional information about the diocesan clerics. The original list was limited to diocesan clergy, but the majority of the new names are religious order and extern priests who lived and worked within the diocese and who were determined by their own orders and dioceses to have been “credibly accused” of abuse. All of these changes were made without saying a word to anyone, either Catholic or non-Catholic.
Abusive clergy, nuns, brothers and lay employees do not just work and socialize with Catholics, and they do not just molest Catholic children. That is why it is critical for Catholic officials to announce publicly those who are accused of abuse, not just quietly add names and information in tiny print on obscure pages on a diocesan website. To us, this update from Catholic officials in Belleville shows they care more about checking a box than they do being truly transparent to parishioners, parents, and the public.
The twelve names that have been added to the list in Belleville are:
- Fr. Thomas W. Miller
- Fr. Arthur W. Niemeyer
- Michael Charland, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Central Province
- James V. Fitzgerald, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Central Province
- Charles E. Gaiter, Jesuits U.S. Central & Southern Province
- Paul Kabat, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Central Province
- Larry Lorenzoni, Salesians of St. John Bosco
- Thomas G. Meyer, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Central Province
- Orville L. Munie, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Central Province
- Kenneth Roberts, Diocese of Dallas, Texas
- Francis Skube, Brothers of Christ the King
- Emil Twardochleb, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Central Province
The Diocese of Belleville is set to get a new bishop soon. We hope that when Bishop-elect Michael McGovern formally takes over that he will immediately show he is dedicated to transparency and accountability. He can do this by adding photos for each name on the accused list. For diocesan priests, he can also include the dates of each parish assignment, as well as information on when the diocese learned about each allegation and what action was taken in response. For the non-diocesan priests, the list should be updated to include their local assignments and the dates of those postings.
The new bishop must also make sure that parishioners and the public are aware of each and every update to the list. Any prelate who truly wants to help survivors heal and to protect today’s children would do nothing less.
(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)