Diocese of Fall River MA Finally Releases List of Accused Priests
Finally, after years of refusal, Catholic officials in Fall River have followed the lead of nearly 160 other dioceses around the country and released a list of priests known to have abused children. This step is long overdue and must be followed by extensive outreach campaigns to ensure victims are informed, parishes are alerted, and the public can learn the true scope of clergy abuse within Fall River’s borders.
We appreciate that Diocesan leaders in Fall River went a step further than many of their counterparts and chose to list, from the outset, religious order priests and clergy who spent time in Fall River but abused elsewhere. Hair splitting over who had jurisdiction over these clerics is not valuable when it comes to informing the public about dangerous men, an exhaustive list of abusers and their information is.
One critical piece of information that is missing from this list, however, is when Catholic officials first learned of the allegations against each priest and what steps were taken in response. We hope that Bishop Edgar da Cunha will update his list to include those critical details. In order to fix what is broken one needs to have all the pieces first, and a clear look at how Diocesan leaders handled each allegation is an important piece.
This is especially critical given that nearly 25% of the priests on this list are abusers who had not previously been known to the public or associated with the Diocese of Fall River. It is critical to know who knew about the allegations, when they knew, and what they chose to do with that information. Removing perpetrators is critical, but identifying and removing enablers is just as important.
Now that this list has been released, Bishop da Cunha has a lot of work to do. First, he should personally visit each and every parish in his diocese, sharing the list with parishioners and answering questions from parents and others in the pews. Next, he should send all of the information uncovered during this process to local police, prosecuting attorneys, and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. In order for there to be real change, transparency, and accountability, secular authorities must be involved.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, firstname.lastname@example.org)
(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)