Seven Names to be Added to Archdiocese of New Orleans List of Accused
The Archdiocese of New Orleans is bowing under pressure and will be adding the names of 7 religious order priests who worked and abused in New Orleans to their list of accused priests. This is a long overdue move that speaks to need for intervention from secular law enforcement to get to the bottom of what has really gone on in New Orleans.
On its face, someone uninformed about the machinations of the archdiocese and its archbishop might view the additions of these names as welcome transparency. It is not. The fact is, these names have been known to the public for at least several years, and some much longer. We can only wonder what else Archbishop Gregory Aymond has in his treasure trove of clergy sex abuse secrets over on Walmsley Avenue. The addition of seven Franciscan Friars to the original paltry list of 57 credibly accused clerics has now grown to 70.
This trickle-truthing in New Orleans has gone on long enough. We demand law enforcement follow the footsteps of police in places like Dallas and seize the secret archives held under lock and key by this archbishop. We know that secular involvement is the only way that the public will learn the true scope of the existence and coverup of clergy sex crimes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is clear that church officials and religious orders will never willingly turn over evidence unless they are threatened with a lawsuit.
This decision is one that should have been made long ago, but the church policy of hair-splitting is alive and well in New Orleans. For years, Archbishop Aymond and his colleagues refused to name these men for the simple reason that they were religious order priests, not diocesan ones. This is a distinction without a difference when it comes to the protection of children. Parents do not care what entity signs the checks for these men, they care whether or not they represent a danger to children.
More to the point, by refusing to add these names to his list of accused, Archbishop Aymond denied their victims a certain level of recognition and validation, both of which are crucial elements for a person’s healing journey. If church officials in New Orleans truly want to protect children and help survivors heal, this move is too-little, too-late.
We need intervention from local district attorneys to get to the bottom of the situation in New Orleans. This scandal is out of control. Clergy sexual abuse survivors now send out a clarion call to law enforcement to investigate and incarcerate the men who have violated minors and arrogantly flouted the law for generations.
Finally, as more and more names are added to this list – and we are confident that New Orleans’ list remains deficient and will have more names added – we can only wonder what kind of PR advice church officials received from the New Orleans Saints and Gayle Benson. Did they advise against the inclusion of these names, or was that a decision Archbishop Aymond made on his own? Parishioners and parents in New Orleans deserve the truth.
(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)