Kansas City’s List of Accused Priests Quietly Updated but Remains Deficient
Another victim has been vindicated by the Kansas City, Missouri, diocese. But a hard look at the list released by Catholic officials in Kansas City shows that they continue to split hairs and obscure the truth.
The list put out by church leaders in Kansas City last September was updated quietly this week to include another allegation against former Msgr. Thomas Reardon. Fr. Reardon was removed from ministry years ago after facts came to light showing he had abused multiple children. While this latest update is hopefully a small validation for this brave victim, it also highlights how Catholic officials in Kansas City try to obfuscate the truth about the scope of clergy abuse in Missouri.
According to the John Jay study, about 45% of priests nationwide are accused of abusing multiple children. We believe the John Jay study is flawed, and this list by the bishop helps us demonstrate that fact.
Out of the 38 names on his list, Bishop James Johnston only identifies victim counts for 30 - of those. If you read carefully, 21, or approximately 70% - are multiple abusers. This leads to the assumption that the remaining 9 only abused once, but even if they all were accused once, the percentage of multiple abusers with ties to the diocese would be nearly 56% - much higher than the national average. Truthfully, we wonder why Bishop Johnston does not note victim counts for all abusers?
We believe that there is another reason this list is deficient. The diocese lists two priests who eventually became bishops, and both have multiple allegations of abuse against them – Bishop Joseph Hart and Bishop Joseph Sullivan. Powerful priests have a way of suppressing information wherever they are and wherever in the past they worked - the Catholic "playbook" as exposed by A.G. Shapiro has helped expose this fact.
According to SNAP's mapping of abusive bishops, it is rare for a small diocese such as Kansas City to have even one abusive cleric who rose to such power, much less two. What this says to us is that information was kept quiet and hidden, mostly to protect the reputations of those men and the treasure of the diocese.
In order for this list to be useful to victims and society, it needs to contain much more information. Bishop Johnston can start by adding, at a minimum;
- headshots of the abusers,
- complete work histories, and
- when each allegation was first reported to the diocese and the diocese's response to each.
In addition, we know from our work nationwide that abuse within a Catholic diocese is not limited to just priests and brothers. Every single diocese that has been investigated by a secular authority or which has undergone bankruptcy also contains nuns, teachers, and volunteers who abused children. We believe that if those names are added to Bishop Johnston’s list, it would grow significantly. Abuse thrives in secrecy and in order to protect children and the vulnerable, the Kansas City list must be updated.
(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)