Midwest and Maryland Jesuits Release Names of Abusive Clerics, SNAP Responds
Today, officials from the Maryland region of the Jesuit order have released the names of proven, admitted and “credibly accused” child molesting clerics. Their brothers from the Midwest region have also released a list.
We are glad that Jesuit officials are taking this first step towards transparency and healing. Releasing these names publicly is crucial not only for the healing of survivors, but also to encourage victims who may be suffering in silence to come forward and to deter future clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. Still, the fact remains that Jesuit officials have held these names in secret for years: today’s move is long-overdue and prompted only by pressure from prosecutors, parishioners and the public. That is why the release of these names is only the first step.
If they are confident in the veracity of their lists and are truly committed to full transparency and healing for survivors, then Jesuit officials should follow up on this release by imploring attorneys general and law enforcement officials that serve the states in the Jesuit Maryland territory to launch independent investigations into their files. Several of the states within these provinces have already begun independent investigations by their state attorney general. We believe Jesuit officials should ask those attorneys to expand the investigation to cover their order, especially given that oversight for religious order priests is often separate from diocesan priests.
Such an investigation would be the only way to determine who knew what, when they knew it, and what they chose to do with that information. Too often, lists are released that are incomplete or carefully curated by church officials, and so by inviting an independent investigation, Jesuit officials can demonstrate to parishioners and the public their commitment to transparency and healing.
When looking at each name on the list, there are the two crucial questions:
- For how long have Jesuit officials known about the abuser and potentially endangered others by keeping his name hidden?
- Which Jesuit officials will now personally visit the places where these men worked, begging victims, witnesses and whistle blowers to call law enforcement and report their abuse?
We hope that these questions will be answered now that these lists have been released, but we suspect that it will take much more than this initial disclosure to get to the bottom of this crisis – fully independent law enforcement officials must be involved.
(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)