The Diocese of Columbus Releases a List of Accused Priests
Today, the Diocese of Columbus publicly named 34 priests that have been removed from their duties due to “credible” allegations of sexual abuse.
We’re glad that Bishop Frederick Campbell and Columbus church officials have taken this first step towards transparency. The releasing of names is an important step for the protection of children, prevention of future cases of abuse and the healing of survivors today. Still, it is only the first step.
First, Bishop Campbell and other church officials should amend their list by adding critical information that has currently been left off the list. Most importantly, church officials should include information on when the allegation against each priest was first received, what action was taken upon receiving the allegation, and when the priest was finally removed. Similarly, church officials should include on this list the work history of each cleric and aggressively seek out victims, witnesses, or whistleblowers in each location staffed by these abusive men.
Then, Bishop Capmbell should contact his local prosecuting attorney and the state attorney general to urge an independent investigation that will do a full review of all personnel files and abuse records. Only independent law enforcement professionals can truly determine the extent of these crimes. As we have seen recently in places like the Diocese of Buffalo, we cannot count on church officials to release all records they have.
Finally, Bishop Campbell should publicize this list permanently on the diocesan website and run it at least quarterly in every parish bulletin. It should include every single proven, admitted and credibly accused church employee: bishops, priests, seminarians, brothers, nuns and lay people, no matter who supervised or ordained them, and no matter where they originated.
We are glad that Columbus church officials have started on the road towards transparency today, but the first step is the easiest one to take. We hope that Bishop Campbell will continue to do the right thing and be open and honest with Ohio Catholics about the extent of clergy abuse in his diocese.
(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)