Archdiocese of St. Louis Finally Releases List of Accused Priests
It's reckless and callous for Archbishop Robert Carlson to have hidden these names for so long, releasing them when it's convenient for him, instead of immediately when the allegations are made or deemed ‘credible.’
There's no excuse for hiding a likely predator's name for any length of time. In fact, every day a known or suspected abuser's identity is concealed, more kids are needlessly at risk. It's irresponsible to keep silent about a potentially dangerous child molester - or even a deceased one - and wait to disclose this knowledge in groups or bunches when it suits an employer's public relations needs.
So while this may seem like a step forward, it confirms that Catholic officials are still keeping secrets about predator priests and deliberately putting innocent children and vulnerable adults in harm’s way. This is a partial disclosure, forced on Carlson by pressure from parents, parishioners and the public. It’s a way of feigning ‘openness,’ trying to diffuse legitimate anger and turn attention back on to the predator priests and away from their complicit colleagues.
(The vast majority of the nearly 200 US bishops have posted these names, some of them 17 years ago.)
We can’t help but wonder how many other proven, admitted and credibly accused predators have been left off this list and are still living or working – in churches or elsewhere – among unsuspecting colleagues and neighbors. We strongly suspect there are dozens.
We hope this long-delayed, incomplete list of credibly accused clerics will prod those with information or suspicions about clergy sex crimes and cover ups to call police, prosecutors and independent sources of help like our group. It’s clear that Catholic officials still refuse to do all they can to safeguard the vulnerable. So that duty falls on the rest of us.
We also hope it will prod victims who are suffering in silence, shame and self-blame to share their pain with loved ones and therapists so they can begin healing. You can heal from abuse. But you can’t do it alone.
Finally, we hope this list will make parents, co-workers, neighbors and relatives of these clerics to keep their kids away from them.
Many predator priests are charming, charismatic and loveable. So even after they’ve been suspended, some Catholics believe they’re innocent and don’t protect their kids. We hope this list will cut through the dangerous denial and convince church-goers that these clerics should never be around children.
Many will assume it’s too late to prosecute or sue the clerics who committed or concealed these crimes. That’s a silly assumption. Increasingly, police and prosecutors are getting more aggressive and creative in going after even decades-old child sex crimes. Increasingly, many are being less deferential to church officials or fearful of their perceived power. Increasingly, attorneys are using innovative approaches to winning civil justice for victims. And increasingly courts are re-interpreting laws and giving victims their ‘day in court.’
So the bottom line – you owe it to kids to call law enforcement if you know or suspect any kind of misconduct by these clerics. And you owe it to yourself and your family to check out your civil legal options if you were hurt by any of them.
CONTACT: David Clohessy, SNAP Missouri (firstname.lastname@example.org, 314-566-9790)
(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)