Jefferson City Catholic officials release the names of accused priests, SNAP responds
Jefferson City Catholic officials today released the names of 33 priests and religious brothers who have been "credibly accused" of acts which violate the Dallas Charter. This is a long overdue but inadequate first step.
We are grateful that Bishop Shawn McKnight has made this list public, particularly since 11 of those named* have never previously been publicly identified as having allegations against them. We are also glad the bishop included the names of accused religious order brothers. However, we question why he did not release this list immediately after he took over the diocese. It appears that this belated disclosure comes only now because of tremendous public and parishioner pressure.
The list on the diocesan website is also irresponsibly and painfully short on details. The diocese should have disclosed where each of these men worked, when they were accused, when those allegations were deemed credible, and where they are now. Catholics and citizens need and deserve to know information like this.
To follow up on this first step, Jeff City church staff should do aggressive outreach:
- post this list permanently and prominently on the diocesan website and publish it in the diocesan newspaper.
- put notices about the accused predators in every parish bulletin across the diocese, begging victims and witnesses to come forward to law enforcement,
- make similar pulpit announcements in every church at every mass,
- 'come clean' about any other secret settlements or allegations involving other priests and church employees, and
- disclose the identities of all accused clergy, not just those where the allegations have been found "credible," and include those who have changed their names, who came here from other states/dioceses, were only here briefly, and who lived but didn't work here.
We hope Bishop McKnight will follow through on his new policy and insist that in the future, religious orders must commit to the release of names of all their credibly accused members in order to continue serving in the diocese. However, we wish it was effective immediately, not in January of 2020.
CONTACT: David Clohessy of St. Louis leader and victim of childhood sexual abuse by a Jeff City priest, Fr. John Whiteley (314 566 9790, firstname.lastname@example.org) , Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, email@example.com)
(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)