Dear Archbishop Gregory:
Your obituary will no doubt prominently mention that in 2002, you shepherded to adoption the Catholic church's first nation-wide 'zero tolerance' policy on child sexual abuse.
We now urge you to fully abide by that policy - which mandates 'openness and transparency' in abuse cases - by posting on your website the names of dozens more credibly accused child molesting clerics who are or were in your archdiocese. (We also urge you to provide more information about all these clerics, including their photos, their work histories, their last known whereabouts and similar details, following the example of the Sacramento Diocese and the Philadelphia Archdiocese).
We in SNAP are largely volunteers. We aren't skilled internet sleuths. We are not trained investigators. We have access to no sophisticated or massive databases.
Still, by simply using publicly accessible and reputable sources (court records, church documents, mainstream news accounts and the like), we have found dozens and dozens of proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests and other church personnel whose names should be on - but are not on - your official archdiocesan ‘credibly accused’ clerics list.
This is reckless, callous and self-serving. Parents can best protect their kids if they know who and where the child molesters are. That’s why virtually every state has a sex offender registry. Police and prosecutors can best protect kids if they also have this information. And parishioners have been promised – and deserve – this information.
You are no doubt familiar with all the ways Catholic officials parse words, split hairs and make excuses so they can justify disclosing fewer names of credibly accused child molesters. We ask you to be better than this.
(Just three months ago, for instance, the attorney general in your home state, Illinois, concluded a nearly five year investigation and issued a 696 page report on clergy sex crimes and cover ups. He disclosed the identities of 149 clerics who were or are in Illinois, have been deemed “credibly accused” of abuse by their bishop or other church supervisors, yet are listed on no Illinois Catholic website as “credibly accused.” Just this week, The Guardian disclosed that fewer than ¼ of all the accused child molesting clerics in the New Orleans archdiocese are listed on its website.)
Please understand Cardinal, when the public sees bishops claiming their ‘credibly accused’ lists are complete when in fact they are not, it deepens the already profound pain and betrayal that millions of current and former Catholics already and still feel thanks to decades of deceit by the church hierarchy.
Parishioners and the public rightly assume that if bishops are being less-than-fully honest about the most simple and most important fact – who and where the predators are and have been – many understandably assume that it’s very likely bishops are also violating other promises they’ve made, about better screening, more psychological testing, paying for victims’ counseling, and truly cooperating with law enforcement.
Think of it this way: The truth not only sets us free, it safeguards kids and also helps victims. Many current and former rank-and-file Catholics would submit that it also begins to restore some confidence in the higher echelons of the institution.
Here are other reasons why our members have found that publicly naming child molesting clerics is just and helpful.
Archbishop Gregory, by adding these names and taking take these steps, you may increase the chances that your obituary will also include a line like this: "Shortly before his retirement, Archbishop Gregory vastly expanded and improved his list of credibly accused clerics list, winning the approval and gratitude of both victims and parishioners."
More importantly, by taking these steps, you will more effectively protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.
And because of your past leadership and current prominence, by taking these steps, you may also help prod your colleagues across the country, once again, to do more than the bare minimum to safeguard kids and assist victims.
We hope you will act quickly. We hope to hear from you soon.